January 5, 2023

Rafael Devers Agrees To 11-Year, $331 Million Extension (2023-33)

UPDATED: Scroll down to sock divider.

One day after the Red Sox and Rafael Devers avoided arbitration with a $17.5 million contract for 2023, here comes the wonderful news that the Boston third baseman has agreed to rip up that deal while the ink is still wet in favour of a massive 11-year, $331 million extension.

Devers will report to camp next month in preparation for his seventh major league season. He will be 26 years old for the entire campaign. As mentioned, this mega-deal wipes away the arb-avoiding stop-gap and so will start in 2023 and take Devers through 2033 (his age-36 season). There are no opt-outs in the contract.

The Red Sox have not officially announced the deal, so it is uncertain whether the extension will begin in 2023 or 2024. MassLive.com writer Chris Cotiilo tweeted: "For CBT purposes, Red Sox could keep Devers' 2023 hit at $17.5M (his agreed upon salary) or fold it in to larger deal ($30.09M for 11 years). It can be done both ways. Haven't gotten an answer on what the plan is (and team officials not confirming deal)."

Jen McCaffrey's article at The Athletic reveals a bit about Devers's mindset and maturity:

But this isn't just about on-field production. The organization is also investing in Devers, the person, someone who's embraced a growing leadership role. A team — especially the Red Sox — doesn't dole out a contract of this magnitude without trusting that Devers will continue to develop into the veteran leader and clubhouse presence he's shown glimpses of becoming in recent years. . . .

Devers has already shown a desire to be more of a force among his peers, something that will be crucial as a new wave of Red Sox talent arrives.

In recent years, Devers has made a concerted effort to learn more English so that he can connect more easily with his English-speaking teammates. It's not something anyone told him to do, but something he took upon himself, knowing what it would mean for his career and the unity of the team.

Devers had a breakout season in 2019, leading the majors with 359 total bases, topping the American League with 54 doubles and 90 extra-base hits, and finishing with an OPS of . 916. He belted more home runs (32) that year than he had hit in his previous two seasons combined. And despite having 212 more plate appearances than he had in 2018, he struck out two fewer times.

Devers had a down year in 2020, but roared back in both 2021 and 2022. He was one of the Red Sox's few bright spots last season, finishing fifth in the AL in slugging and OPS and tied for third in extra-base hits. Over the last four seasons (2019-22), Devers leads all MLB batters in doubles (149) and extra-base hits (264) and he leads the AL in hits (591) and total bases (1,078).

Devers's 333 extra-base hits are the most of any player in Red Sox history before his 26th birthday. He also got to 100 dongs faster (486 games) than all but two Red Sox players: Ted Williams (467) and Tony Conigliaro (469). Devers holds franchise single-season records among third basemen for most homers (38 in 2021) and doubles (54 in 2019).

On the minus side, Devers has led the AL in errors by a third baseman for five consecutive seasons. At some point, he will be a full-time DH.

Devers is the 13th player to sign a contract worth $300+ million. Nine of those contracts have been signed in the last three off-seasons.

SoSHer drbretto: "I can't believe I've lived to see a day here where an 11 year, 331 million dollar contract didn't cause a complete existential meltdown."

Jumping off something another SoSHer posted: When David Ortiz was Raffy's age right now, he was a league-average hitter with the Twins. It's a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison and it would be fool-hardy (and unfair to Devers) to expect Raffy to put up Flo-like production (Tiz had a 1.026 OPS at age 36; 2013 was his age 37 season), but . . . through age 25:

Devers: 2958 PA: .283/.342/.512, .358 wOBA, 123 wRC+
Ortiz:  1176 PA: .261/.351/.446, .345 wOBA, 101 wRC+

Dan Secatore (Oover the Monster) has published a great write-up of a game from August 13, 2017: "Rafael Devers Is The Reason We Care"
Chapman had already established himself as one of the single best relievers of the decade. He threw harder than anyone in baseball; he hadn't given up a single home run all season; and he was a lefty.

Chapman struck out Hanley on three straight fastballs at the top of the zone to begin the ninth. Then he started Devers [then 20 years old, only 14 games into his major league career] off with a 103-MPH fastball on the inside corner. Looking at the replay now, it's not clear that Devers even saw the pitch. He stepped out of the box, stared out at the mound for a moment, shook his head, and then stepped back in — just in time to watch another 103-MPH fastball barely miss outside. This was something he'd never seen before, and it's why, typically, players with only 9 AAA games under their belt aren't called upon to face All-Star closers in the middle of a pennant race.

Devers finally took the bat off his shoulder on the third pitch, a 102-MPH fastball up and out of the zone, but he didn't come close to making contact. . . . Chapman was in complete control, primed to close out the game and put the heat on the division-leading Sox down the stretch. With an unproven rookie standing 60 feet, 6 inches away, Chapman didn't mess around, going back to a 103-MPH heater up in the zone. . . .

1 comment:

FenFan said...

I cannot even fathom $331M, much less that a baseball player will collect that over the next 11 years... but it's a smart deal because (a) that's the market today for these big-name players, and (b) as noted, Devers just turned 26, and he'll be 37 when this contract ends, so theoretically it may only be the last year or two that his output doesn't match the value. That's why, as much as I hated to see him go, I wasn't keen on giving Bogaerts a mega-deal like this that has almost half of his contract coming after his age-35 year.

In fact, this is what the Red Sox may need to start doing: show some of the promising YOUNG talent bigger and better deals to keep them in Boston. A player who is 24-25 years old and has had two-three years of solid output are worth these type of contracts. Not EVERY player, but the ones for whom it makes the most sense.

I very well remember that home run off Chapman, and I totally forgot that Devers had barely begun his major league career, much less that he had essentially jumped from AA straight to Boston.

I saw someone remark that Devers will be the Big Papi of the 2020s for Boston. If you are talking offensive production, then great, but I hope that he is able to stay fit enough to remain at third base for several more years. I definitely see him moving into the DH role later in his career, and hopefully it is much, MUCH later.