Boston Red Sox

Oct 11, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) and shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) react as they walk off the field after the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during game four of the 2021 ALDS at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

When Trevor Story spoke for the first time as a member of the Red Sox, his words warranted scrutiny. And nothing Story said should resonate as much as the following.

“I felt that this was a really good fit for me to play second this year on this team, on the Red Sox,” he stated. “And that’s really what it came down to.”

The obvious, key qualifier: this year.

So what does that mean for the future of a Red Sox infield (and batting order) that is now splattered with Silver Sluggers? Excellent question.

For now, Rafael Devers is a third baseman, Xander Bogaerts a shortstop and Story a second baseman as the Sox embark on the 2022 season. But we all know the challenges ahead. Bogaerts can (and will) opt out of his existing contract at the end of this season and Devers will be a free agent at the end of 2023. In the case of the latter, Devers said the Red Sox have not presented him with a long-term contract offer.

Is it likely the Red Sox can keep Story, Bogaerts and Devers together? It doesn’t seem so. But is it possible? Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom says yes. And if the Red Sox are able to pull it off, here’s a guess as to how they might try to do it.

  • 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.