The Boston Red Sox had to sign Rafael Devers to an extension. After trading away Mookie Betts before the 2020 MLB season and losing Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez in free agency this offseason, the big four that had once powered the Red Sox’s lineup was down to Devers. Owner John Henry and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom simply had to keep the only remaining face of the franchise in town. After all, these are the Red Sox — not the A’s, not the Rays, not the Pirates. Spend the money.
And the Red Sox did just that, locking up Devers by agreeing to an 11-year, $331 million extension on Wednesday.
With Betts, the Red Sox got backed into a corner with a player who made it clear he wanted to test the free agent market and Boston had little choice but to trade him before he left in free agency. The problem for Boston is that the trade hasn’t really worked out. Alex Verdugo has been OK, but Jeter Downs, the top prospect acquired in the deal, was put on waivers in December and claimed by the Nationals. That’s a knock against the front office (although Henry was certainly happy to dump David Price’s contract in the deal).
With Bogaerts, it always kind of felt like he was gone the day they signed Trevor Story. Plus, at some point they’ll need pitching: You can’t spend $700 million on Devers, Bogaerts and Story, and have no pitching and a bad outfield — so Bogaerts ultimately became the odd man out.
As much sense as it makes to open up the wallet for Devers, especially since at 26 he’s four years younger than Bogaerts, it’s also fair to ask: Is Devers the type of player worthy of the rarified $300 million club that also includes Mike Trout, Betts, Aaron Judge, Francisco Lindor, Fernando Tatis Jr., Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Corey Seager, Manny Machado and Trea Turner?
Devers’ $331 million passes Harper’s deal as the sixth biggest in total dollars. Five of those 10 players have won MVP Awards — with Trout a three-time winner and Harper a two-time winner. Lindor had three top-10 MVP finishes when he signed his extension with the Mets (and another one in 2022). Tatis exploded on the scene and finished fourth and third in the 2020 and 2021 MVP voting. Seager had two top-10 finishes and Machado three before they signed their deals, and Turner has finished seventh, fifth and 11th the past three seasons.