Boston Red Sox

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Since returning to the Red Sox prior to 2021, Alex Cora has consistently asserted the value of quality team defense. Boston had plenty of room to improve in this department from 2021, and additions such as Trevor Story and the returning Jackie Bradley Jr. will certainly help.

Defense is especially a priority for Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. Despite his still-rising offensive talent, his fielding has been an issue.

Devers’ biggest problem is throwing balls away. His UZR/150 (ultimate zone rating per 150 games) improved year-over-year from 2020 to 2021, but he also led all third basemen last season with 10 throwing errors, and has made at least 20 total errors in the last three full seasons.

“It’s the only problem that Raffy has defensively because he has a good arm, a first step, he has range. It’s out conversion,” Cora told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tony Massarotti on a podcast for The Baseball Hour. “He will throw the ball away on a great play. In our numbers, he was average or above average in a lot of things, but below average in out conversion.”

Cora says Devers has taken tangible steps so far this spring to improve at the hot corner.

“Talking to Raffy, he made a conscious effort in the offseason to work on his defense as much as he works on his offense,” Cora said. “It’s paying off.”

Cora also addressed the adjustments to training that the Red Sox have made as a team.

“The defensive talk is going to be part of it,” Cora said. ”There are some subtle adjustments that we did. Early on, they didn’t take as many ground balls on the field. It was drill-oriented.”

As Devers’ game continues to develop, Cora also discussed the impact that the 24-year-old is having around the league among his peers.

“When you’re playing games, everyone gravitates to Raffy,” Cora said. “The opposition, they’re in awe with Raffy.”

Devers is under team control through the 2023 season. As a cornerstone player in Boston, a possible contract extension continues to be a question mark on keeping him in a Red Sox uniform – especially if he adds great defense to his bat. Cora hopes that that possibility comes to fruition.

“Hopefully we can get to a point as an organization that we can have this guy for a lot of years,” Cora said.

Devers will look to build upon his first All-Star season in 2021 with a more complete performance in 2022 and beyond.

Red Sox reach deals, avoid arbitration with five players

  • With the deadline to sign players to contracts before arbitration approaching on Monday, the Red Sox reached agreements with five players on Monday.

  • Rafael Devers

    Jun 14, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) hits a walk off single during the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 14, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) hits a walk off single during the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    The Red Sox and Rafael Devers agreed to a one-year contract on Monday worth $11.2 million, according to multiple sources. Reports initially believed that the sides did not reach a deal before coming back at the eleventh hour to get an agreement done. Devers shined last season, making his first All-Star appearance while belting 38 home runs with a .890 OPS. Playing with an injured right arm, Devers still hit five home runs and drove in 12 runs in the postseason.

  • Christian Arroyo

    Jul 5, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Christian Arroyo (39) reaches home after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 5, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Christian Arroyo (39) reaches home after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Arroyo reached a deal with the Red Sox on a one-year contract for $1.2 million. In 57 games last season, Arroyo was productive with a .769 OPS and came up with clutch hits such as his go-ahead grand slam in Atlanta last summer. With the signing of Trevor Story, Arroyo will likely step into a utility role in 2022.

  • Alex Verdugo

    Apr 14, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Alex Verdugo (99) hits a single in the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 14, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Alex Verdugo (99) hits a single in the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Alex Verdugo’s one-year deal is reportedly for $3.55 million. In his first 162-game season with the club, Verdugo stepped up in the Boston outfield, hitting .289 with a .777 OPS and 88 runs scored in 146 games. Verdugo looks to continue to grow in his third season in a Red Sox uniform.

  • Nick Pivetta

    May 20, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, CAN; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (37) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

    May 20, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, CAN; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (37) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

    Pivetta’s deal is for $2.65 million, per multiple reports. After being acquired from the Phillies at the trade deadline in 2020, Pivetta worked his way into the rotation with a 9-8 record and 10.2 K/9 in 30 starts. Pivetta gained praise for his heroic performance out of the bullpen in game three of the ALDS against Tampa Bay that led to a walk-off and eventual series win for Boston.

  • Josh Taylor

    Jun 23, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Josh Taylor (38) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 23, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Josh Taylor (38) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Taylor’s deal is reportedly for $1.025 million. Taylor served as Boston’s go-to lefty reliever in 2021, pitching to a 3.40 ERA and striking out 60 batters in 47.2 IP. Taylor will once again serve as a high-leverage reliever in Alex Cora’s bullpen in 2022.

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