The Red Sox salvaged their offseason in a big way Wednesday, signing Rafael Devers to a franchise-record, $331-million extension. Even if they overpaid, signing Devers to the sixth-largest contract in MLB history, Wednesday can only be seen as an enormous victory for Boston, locking up its franchise cornerstone for the foreseeable future.
Keeping Devers in the fold should go a long way with fans (many of whom were calling for Chaim Bloom’s job), though the Red Sox still have plenty of work to do in terms of building a winner, needing another centerpiece to pair with their All-Star third baseman. MLB Network analyst Jake Peavy, who won a World Series with Boston in 2013, spoke glowingly of Devers’ 11-year extension, a desperately-needed palette cleanser after losing Xander Bogaerts in free agency.
“This is saving Chaim Bloom’s offseason along with Chris Martin, Kenley Jansen, [Justin] Turner, [Masataka] Yoshida. Now we’ve had a good offseason and you have a figure to build around for 11 years, your David Ortiz,” said Peavy during his appearance Wednesday on MLB Tonight. “This is the best deal of the winter. This kid is 26 years old. He’s a stud in the prime of his career. He’s going to grow and now you have a cornerstone that’s healthy that you build around and you add pieces.”
Peavy, like most, was confused by the Red Sox’s tactics this winter, taking a mid-market approach to free agency by eschewing superstars in favor of cost-efficient veterans, most with ties to the Dodgers. Bogaerts’ departure had Red Sox fans fearing the worst, assuming Devers would inevitably test free agency, betting on himself just as Aaron Judge did a season ago. Now the hope is that Devers will lure other stars to Boston, including Padres outfielder Juan Soto, who has two years remaining on his current contract.
“It’s been hard to believe in what Boston’s doing. I just didn’t think there was any way they could let X walk because of what he meant organization-wise, top to bottom. This scratches that itch. I thought that if X walked, certainly Rafi was going to do the same,” said Peavy, arguing that Devers belongs in the same conversation as fellow left-handed sluggers Bryce Harper, Soto, Yordan Alvarez and Shohei Ohtani, the latter anticipating a record haul in next year’s free agency. “You put Soto in this lineup next year with this guy and Yoshida. They have that ability.”
That might be ambitious, especially considering Soto famously turned down a $440-million extension from the Nationals, which would have topped Mike Trout’s $426-million pact with Anaheim as the largest ever. Regardless of what’s next, the Red Sox, after months of penny-pinching with Band-Aid free agents on short-term deals, have successfully changed the narrative, announcing their presence as a major player capable of signing top-level talent.
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