Red Sox Rumors: Rafael Devers Contract Extension Talks Have Made 'Zero Progress'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 29, 2021

Houston - October 22: The Red Sox Rafael Devers is pictured after he made the last out of an inning. The Boston Red Sox visited the Houston Astros for Game Six of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX on Oct. 22, 2021. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox and Rafael Devers have made "zero progress" in negotiations over a long-term extension, according to MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo.

Spotrac estimates Devers will earn $10.8 million in 2022, and he has one more year of arbitration before hitting free agency in 2024.

The two sides still have time to strike an agreement, but it may not be as much time as one would think.

NBC Sports Boston's John Tomase argued Devers could serve as a bellwether for whether ownership is willing to pony up and pay market value for star players:

"So what's the holdup? It's possible that Devers is intent on reaching free agency, though if that's the case, he hasn't been nearly as explicit about it as Betts was before being traded to the Dodgers in 2020. Betts felt comfortable going year to year and setting records in arbitration, at least until signing a massive $365 million extension that will keep him in Dodgers Blue through 2032.
"We're less clear on what Devers wants, but the choice for the Red Sox should be easy. Better to pay him $200 million at age 25 than $300 million on the open market at age 27. The fact that the two sides haven't come close to a long-term agreement to this point should be a giant red flag for fans worried that ownership believes it can win with a mid-market model despite large-market resources."

The Red Sox and Mookie Betts were unable to hammer out a new contract heading into the 2020 season. Boston traded Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers rather than seeing out the final year of his deal.

It stands to reason the front office would be willing to do the same with Devers if the 25-year-old digs in his heels like Betts did.

Re-signing players before they hit free agency is a way for a team to potentially save money down the road. That's not to say Devers is likely to provide Boston with a hometown discount.

He finished with 38 home runs, 113 RBI and a .279/.352/.538 slash line en route to earning his first All-Star nod and winning a Silver Slugger. His 4.7 WAR trailed only Jose Ramirez among third basemen on FanGraphs.

The Red Sox typically had one of MLB's highest payrolls in recent years. Per Cot's Baseball Contracts, they were in the top five on Opening Day every season from 2004 to 2020.

Trading Betts followed a concerted effort from ownership to lower its financial burden. What the franchise does with Devers and Xander Bogaerts, who can opt out in 2023, will likely show if that cost-conscious approach was only a blip or a more permanent strategy.