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David Ortiz Urges Red Sox to Sign Rafael Devers to Long-Term Contract Extension

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 14, 2022

Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston Red Sox legend and soon-to-be Baseball Hall of Famer David Ortiz wants third baseman Rafael Devers to remain with the Red Sox for many years to come.

Speaking to reporters Thursday ahead of his Hall of Fame induction July 24, Ortiz said: "I hope the Red Sox make sense of the decision they need to make with him. … We've got to keep him. He's the face of the organization."

Devers, who is in the thick of the American League MVP conversation this season, is arbitration-eligible in 2023 and can become a free agent in 2024.

Ortiz, one of the Red Sox's greatest players ever and one of the most clutch hitters in MLB history, showered praise on Devers, saying he might be "one of the top three pure hitters in the game right now."

The lefty-hitting Devers is just 25 years old despite being in his sixth MLB season, and he hails from Ortiz's home country of the Dominican Republic.

Devers set a career high with 38 home runs last season and hit .311 with 115 RBI in 2019, but he is on pace for perhaps his best season yet in 2022.

Through 82 games, he is slashing .325/.381/.587 with 19 homers, 51 RBI and 59 runs for a Red Sox team squarely in the American League playoff race with a 47-42 record.

Boston is 15.5 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East, but Devers' hot hitting has helped the Red Sox overcome a slow start. He figures to play a huge role in whether they return to the playoffs after reaching the American League Championship Series last season.

No player may be more important to Boston's success this season and beyond than Devers, as the two-time All-Star, one-time Silver Slugger award winner and 2018 World Series champion is the centerpiece of the lineup.

Big Papi also expressed hope that the Red Sox will re-sign shortstop Xander Bogaerts: "I know what I'm going to get from those guys. They are the best players that can represent the Red Sox. We need to lock them in."

Bogaerts is a more experienced player than Devers at 29 years old and has been key to Boston's success as well, and he has been one of the best shortstops in MLB for most of his career.

In 10 MLB seasons, Bogaerts is a four-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger award winner and two-time World Series champion. He is enjoying another solid statistical season in 2022, hitting .314 with seven home runs, 36 RBI and 52 runs.

While the Red Sox have time to get something done with Devers, Bogaerts can opt out and become a free agent after this season.

The Red Sox lost superstar outfielder Mookie Betts two years ago when they couldn't agree on a new contract and traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers instead.

Boston can ill afford for the same to happen with Devers, but given the huge contract he is likely to command, the Red Sox may have to let Bogaerts walk in order to make it work.

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