Red Sox Looking to Lock Up Pair of Young Stars

Oct 1, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox catcher Connor Wong (74) and pitching coach Dave
Oct 1, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox catcher Connor Wong (74) and pitching coach Dave / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the Boston Red Sox seemingly unwilling to spend to bring outside talent into the organization, perhaps they may be willing to open their checkbooks for the young talent already within the organization.

In recent days, both first baseman Triston Casas and starting pitcher Brayan Bello have been the subject of speculation regarding potential contract extensions that would keep the pair in Boston for the foreseeable future.

The 24-year-old Casas is coming off of a stand-out rookie season in which he finished third in American League Rookie of the Year voting. Casas was Boston's first-round pick in 2018, and he flourished in his first season as the Red Sox' starting first baseman, hitting .263 with 24 homers and 65 runs driven in. He finished fifth in the entire American League with an impressive .857 OPS.

For Red Sox fans, Casas' comments were music to their ears, as he reiterated that he would like to be a Red Sox for life:

"Yeah, of course. I want to be here forever. So this is not a bad place to play. It's actually the best, I think. So I'd love to be here."

Red Sox 1B Triston Casas

The Florida native opened up further about what he would be looking for in a potential extension:

"One that sets [up] me and my family for the rest of my life. I don't know what that looks like. I’m low maintenance. I don't need a lot. So I’ve got a small family. I don't need much, but something that I think would suffice [for] the work that I put into it my whole my whole life would be nice."

Red Sox 1B Triston Casas

Boston's first offer to Casas apparently wasn't breaking the bank, as he characterized the contract talks as "nothing enticing". When he was asked if the initial offer was difficult to turn down, Casas didn't leave much room for interpretation with his one-word answer: "no".

As it pertains to Bello, who is also 24 years old, the starting pitcher relayed that "his agents have been engaged in extension talks with the Red Sox in recent weeks and that a deal may be close between the sides".

Bello's ceiling is the Red Sox' ace of the future, with Boston legend Pedro Martinez (whom Bello has worked with) went as far as to say that he has the "potential to be a Cy Young type of pitcher in the future".

Bello's 2023 campaign, like many young players, lacked wire-to-wire consistency, but his 13-game stretch between April 29 and July 14 showcased the promise that both the franchise and Red Sox nation were hoping for. During that stretch, Bello worked at least five innings in each outing, never allowed more than three runs in a start, and recorded a 2.51 ERA. If he can elongate that 13-game stretch over the course of a 162-game season, then Martinez' prediction may not be too far off.

Now, there is no genuine sense of urgency per se to extend the pair, both Casas and Bello are under team control through 2028, but extending young players with significant team control remaining on their contracts has become an increasingly popular tactic amongst MLB front offices. In 2022, the Atlanta Braves inked Michael Harris II to an eight-year, $72 million contract extension, despite Harris having six years of club control remaining. In Dec. 2023, the Milwaukee Brewers signed 20-year-old prized prospect Jackson Chourio to an 8-year, $82 million deal. Chourio has only appeared in six career Triple-A games and has yet to make his MLB debut.

Such an arrangement can be mutually beneficial, as although the team is often overpaying in the players' pre-arbitration and arbitration years, they are typically receiving a discount when the player would be hitting free agency. From the players' perspective, they receive long-term security and are also protected financially in case their play falls off and they don't fulfill their expected potential. Obviously, the franchise is gambling on the players' future development, but this has demonstrably been a risk that the front offices are willing to take.

If Boston's front office pays up on the young stars, then perhaps they may earn back some goodwill from the fanbase, goodwill that they are in dire need of right now.

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