Last week, Rafael Devers gave the Boston Red Sox fans some great news which had been lacking for a while.
Devers signed a whopping 11-year, $331million contract which will see the third baseman through to 2033.
Here’s a look at what impact that will have on the Red Sox for the 2023 season.
Throughout the final months of 2022, the Boston Red Sox faced the reality of finishing in last place of the American League East Division and the uncertainty of Xander Bogaerts signing a new deal (he later signed a new contract with the San Diego Padres).
This was three years after Boston dealt Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Sox fans were beginning to wonder when this uncertainty might end.
The deal for Devers will be the largest financial commitment in terms of both dollars and length of contract in the franchise’s history.
Devers displayed the kind of levels of performance that granted him his second All-Star appearance in 2022. The third baseman hit .295 with 27 home runs, 88 RBI’s and 70 extra-base hits in 141 games.
At the start of the season, Devers hit 22 home runs, but a hamstring injury curtailed his performances and appearances in the second half of 2022.
Speaking to the Boston Globe about his 2022 season, Devers said: “I’m not very happy with my season overall. I don’t really like to get injured and that’s something that happened this year, I think I can improve a lot on those numbers. That is something I’m going to work on for next year.”
Since Devers was signed out of the Dominican Republic in August 2013, the Red Sox have gone through three different major-league managers, three heads of baseball operations, they have won two World Series championships and finished in last place four times.
They have developed superstars which has enabled them to win the championships, only to let them go. The Red Sox, who are 30/1 to win the 2023 World Series, at least have managed to try and maintain some stability with the signing of Devers.
It’s not certain how much the Red Sox fan base could take if Devers had left and Boston had developed into a side that was going through a complete rebuild.
The 26-year-old will be the face of the franchise for a while as Boston try to develop a plan that will see them become a leading contender again.
Speaking to the Athletic, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said about Devers: “He is one of the best players in the game, he has shown all the ability to perform on the biggest stages and to do it here, and he is someone we want to build around.”
Devers debuted as a 20-year-old in 2017 and quickly illustrated why scouts so loved his bat skills.
His left-handed swing was perfectly suited for Fenway Park with doubles hitting the Green Monster and home runs going out to right-field.
His 2022 season was similar to his 2021 in which Devers hit 38 home runs and in 2019 when he led the major leagues with 359 total bases as a 22-year-old.
The Red Sox needed him to stay after the loss of Betts and Bogaerts and thankfully Devers came to an agreement with Boston.
When Bogaerts left, the attention turned to Devers and he joined the megadeals that have been handed this year to players such as Aaron Judge ($360million) from division rivals the New York Yankees and Trea Turner ($300million) from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Nathan Eovaldi also left the Red Sox to join the Texas Rangers and Boston fell short of signing some free agents on the market.
They have added Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida on a five-year, $90million deal, relievers Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin, third baseman Justin Turner and starter Corey Kluber.
Devers will be one of the leaders of the clubhouse and a roster cornerstone for the new era of the franchise as the Red Sox look to come back from their bottom-placed position in 2023.
The Red Sox will have to go someway to win the AL East Division with every side improving their roster over the course of the winter, the New York Yankees are 1/1 to retain their Division crown.