Boston Red Sox

Mar 27, 2022; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) throws to first base and takes out Minnesota Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers (not pictured) in the third inning of the game during spring training at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday is somewhat of an unofficial deadline for the Red Sox and star third baseman Rafael Devers. The two sides have been working on a contract extension for the 25-year-old, but Devers has said he doesn’t want to have those conversations during the season.

With that deadline now less than 48 hours away, Devers has rejected the latest offer from the Red Sox, according to MLB insider Hector Gomez. “The player rejected because it was lower than he is willing to consider,” Gomez tweeted Wednesday evening. “Devers will focus now on his 2022 season looking to further increase his market value.”

Chris Cotillo of MassLive followed up on that report shortly after, tweeting that “the sides were very far off.” However, he added that “considering this is the first time the sides have really talked about a deal not a major surprise they’re far off.”

Devers is currently in his second of three arbitration years. When spring training began, he and the team avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $11.2 million contract. The team can take him to arbitration again if needed in 2023, but he’d become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

On his end, Devers has done plenty this spring to remind the Red Sox why they should pay him. He hit .370 in 21 games, with six home runs and 12 RBIs.

Perhaps more pertinent is the fact that that he is coming off yet another MVP-contending season. Devers slashed .279/.352/.538 last season in 156 games, while hitting a career-high 38 home runs with 113 runs driven in.

Devers’ contract isn’t the only major deal the clock is ticking on for the Red Sox. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is expected to exercise an opt-out in his contract after this upcoming season.

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Mazz: How the Red Sox may (should?) try to sell Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Trevor Story on remaining together

  • Pay Bogaerts and entice him to move to third

    Oct 5, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) hits a two run home run against the New York Yankees during the first inning of the American League Wildcard game at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 5, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) hits a two run home run against the New York Yankees during the first inning of the American League Wildcard game at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Will this be easy? No. Would Bogaerts do it? Unclear. His idol was Derek Jeter, who played his entire career with one team at one position. Presumably, Bogaerts covets something similar, but he might not be able to get both. The highest-paid shortstops and third basemen both make in the range of $30-$35 million per season and Bogaerts qualifies as one of those players. How the sides negotiate the ultimate value and length of the deal is open to debate, but something in the range of six years and $190 million (give or take) seems fair. That would bring Bogaerts[ earnings to $250 million over a nine-year period and at least help rectify the fact that he has been underpaid over the last two seasons.

  • Move Rafael Devers to DH and pay him at a premium

    Oct 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) hits a go-ahead two run home run against the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) hits a go-ahead two run home run against the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    If Story and Bogaerts are both on the left side of the infield, well, guess what? Devers won’t be. Part of the reason the Sox haven’t approached Devers about a long-term deal is probably because they don’t want to commit to (and pay) him as a third baseman, where he has ranked near the bottom of qualifying players in many advanced defensive metrics over the last four years. (In the aggregate, he is last among 15 qualifiers over the last four seasons.) The point? Devers’ future is probably as a DH and J.D. Martinez is a free agent at the end of this season. The top designated hitters really make somewhere in the range of $20-$25 million per season. Devers adores Bogaerts – and with good reason. So pay him like a top-of-the-market DH and maybe extend the contract on the longer side. Unlike Story and Bogaerts, Devers bats left-handed. That is critical for the balance of the Boston offense.

  • Move Story to shortstop, where he has more value

    Sep 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (27) fields the ball in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (27) fields the ball in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite much of what you read and hear, Bogaerts is hardly a problem at shortstop. But Story is better. As long as Story is reasonably productive away from Coors Field – and this is always a concern with any former member of the Rockies – his contract with the Red Sox is completely in line with his value. Right now, he is one of the higher-paid second basemen in the game. If he moves to short, the Red Sox will get better value on the deal (which Story signed up for). By moving Story and Devers to shortstop and DH, respectively, the Red Sox can get much better value on those contracts and justify paying Bogaerts at the top of the market as the face and leader of the team.

NEXT: Alex Cora details improved defense for Rafael Devers, Red Sox