During the end-of-the-season press conference on Monday, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom described Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers as “cornerstone” players for the franchise. That’s a strong sentiment for the organization to put just behind not just one player, but two. After all, the Red Sox have struggled keeping their should-be “cornerstones” in place in recent years (see Betts, Mookie).
The team will have important decisions on both players to make soon. Devers is due to make $10.75 million next season, then has just one arbitration year remaining before coming an unrestricted free agent in 2024 at the age of 27. Meanwhile, Bogaerts has an opt-out in his current contract at the end of the 2022 season. According to Joon Lee of ESPN, Bogaerts plans to exercise that opt out, but “hopes to remain in Boston and finish his career with the Red Sox.”
Of the two, Devers’ situation has a more simple solution – pay him. The Red Sox don’t have many more opportunities to take things year-to-year with their budding superstar third baseman, and if they won’t give him a long-term contract at some point in the next year and a half, there will be a line of clubs willing to do so. According to Lee, “the Boston front office will prioritize contract-extension talks with the 25-year-old slugger.”
As for Bogaerts – who turned 29 on Oct. 1 – things are slightly more complicated. If and when he opts out of his deal, he’ll be exposed to the open market. If the Red Sox fear there’s a chance he’ll leave, or want to upgrade at the position, they’ll have there options this winter in free agency with Carlos Correa, Trevor Story Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Javier Báez headline an impressive class.
The Red Sox could also look to keep Bogaerts while improving their lineup. Lee writes that Bogaerts – who is viewed as an average to above average fielder for his position – “is also open to moving to second or third base down the road.” Third base may be accounted for if Devers gets his extension (although he also could move to first base or DH), but second base projects to be a need for the club for the near future.
While there’s a year before any of these decisions have to ultimately be made, they require planning ahead. What the Red Sox do this upcoming offseason – with free agency beginning five days after the end of the World Series – should tell us a lot about the plan moving forwards.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.