The Boston Red Sox ensured Rafael Devers will remain with the organization for the long-term future and will reportedly turn their attention toward building a young core around him.
Now that Boston agreed to an 11-year, $331 million contract with Devers, per ESPN's Jeff Passan, Joon Lee of ESPN reported chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom plans to "build back the farm system" with players such as first baseman Triston Casas, shortstop Marcelo Mayer and outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela as expected future contributors.
Bloom would prefer to sign some of the top young players to deals prior to arbitration because he "believes giving established stars long-term deals into their 40s is simply too risky an investment."
Despite that philosophy, the front office was facing plenty of pressure to sign Devers to a long-term deal that will keep him in the fold until his late 30s.
After all, Boston was unable to reach agreements with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, which left fans feeling plenty of angst given the Red Sox's position as a valuable franchise that is always under the spotlight and expected to contend as it fills the seats at Fenway Park.
But the difference in age and the reluctance to have players in their 40s still came into play this offseason when it came to Devers and Bogaerts.
"While Bogaerts hit free agency as a 30-year-old, Devers only recently turned 26," Lee wrote. "While Bloom and his front office did not feel comfortable giving a long-term contract to a player who'd be in his 40s by the end of the deal, Devers will be just 37 when this contract is up."
Even with the new face of the franchise now in place, Boston is facing an uphill battle in a daunting American League East.
It finished in last place in 2022 and will need to battle with an expected World Series contender in the New York Yankees and legitimate challengers in the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. Throw in a young Baltimore Orioles team that turned heads last year, and the Red Sox may need to turn their attention to the future.
That is where locking up some of the younger players to deals ahead of arbitration comes in for the franchise.
While challenging for a World Series crown may not be in the cards in 2023, Devers still has years remaining in his prime and is someone who could anchor future lineups alongside the likes of Casas, Mayer, Rafaela and others.
Signing them earlier would also remove some of the pressure and urgency the front office faced with Devers, who could have gone elsewhere alongside Betts and Bogaerts as soon as next season were it not for this deal.
Instead, it seems as if there is a plan in place in Boston even if it may not result in an immediate AL East title.