Relief. That’s the first word that came to mind following the news of the Red Sox extending Rafael Devers to an 11-year, $331 MM deal on Wednesday night. The dark cloud that had emerged following the trade of Mookie Betts in 2020 was finally gone after almost 3 long years.
That’s no disrespect to the 2021 season either, which was a rollercoaster ride that almost ended with rings on everyone’s finger. Still, even during those moments, the worries about extensions for Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers lingered. It became the main storyline for the Red Sox heading into 2022, despite the Trevor Story signing and the team having championship aspirations.
Sacrificing Betts for financial flexibility was supposed to free the Red Sox from ever being in that position again, according to the front office, but their actions didn’t always match their words. Especially once fans found out about the botched negotiations with Bogaerts that included an extension offer of 4-years, $90 MM.
All of this build-up and frustration led to a single moment that set the tone for the 2022 season. It was Bogaerts’ press conference before Opening Day, where he seemed disappointed and cold as he told reporters the two sides couldn’t get a deal done. It felt like the dark cloud expanded to new levels, and it was impossible to shake as they see-sawed up and down before settling in the cellar.
There was never a dull moment. Constant questions throughout the season about where his head was at knowing free agency was approaching. Comments from Scott Boras that brought the headline right back into discussion every few weeks. It only got worse once the trade deadline rolled around and the Red Sox were quickly playing for nothing.
That doesn’t include almost every other player on the team being asked about Bogaerts’ importance to the team on a weekly basis, from Chris Sale down to Christian Arroyo. It was impossible to escape the dark cloud. If you were around the Red Sox, you were getting rained on.
Looking back, it was clear to everyone that Bogaerts wasn’t himself. His teammates and friends noticed and did their best to help him unplug by going out after games. But when the leader of your team is carrying that type of weight on their shoulders, everyone can feel it from the guys on the field to the fans in the stands.
That dark cloud brought a torrential downpour when the Red Sox finally became serious about extending Bogaerts following the 2022 season and he had his sights set on free agency. Fans felt relief for a few hours before he signed with the Padres, as it looked like a return to the Red Sox was in the works, but the botched negotiations from the spring came back to bite them. It took one mad man to throw everything out of whack and it was A.J. Preller.
Bogaerts was dubbed the organization’s “top priority” and yet the Red Sox departed the Winter Meetings with their Plan A completely blown to shreds.