Clap. Clap. Clap. The Boston Red Sox’ first $300 million contract! You guys did it! As one of the most profitable organizations in the sport, you finally joined the club … after breaking up a World Series contender with one of the most inexplicable teardowns in modern baseball history.
On Wednesday night, in a move that was arguably more important than the New York Yankees retaining Aaron Judge, the Sox agreed to an 11-year, $332 million contract with franchise cornerstone Rafael Devers. Way to get it done quickly. Great deal for both sides. A start to repairing the fractured relationship with the fanbase after Xander Bogaerts’ departure.
But, like so many Sox fans said about the Yankees re-signing Judge, this was the first step to get beyond the status quo. In fact, the Sox are far behind the status quo after losing Bogaerts and others. The status quo should’ve been the 2018 roster!
Instead, it’s now a shell of its former self — even by 2021 standards, when they made a run to the ALCS!
They don’t have a shortstop/second baseman at the moment, depending on where Trevor Story plays in 2023. They don’t have a starting-caliber catcher. Their outfield is the spitting image of mediocrity, with Alex Verdugo, Kiké Hernandez and Masataka Yoshida as the starting cast. The rotation has to be a bottom unit in MLB. The bullpen improved, but was it enough?
Yankees fans can laugh as the Red Sox try and build around Rafael Devers
The outlook for 2023 is one thing … but what about the long-term vision under Chaim Bloom, who was brought in to make savvy, cost-cutting moves? Those such endeavors failed alongside ownership not giving him access to enough money to be as competitive as he should’ve been in free agency.
Unless there’s a complete 180 with the Fenway Sports Group over the next few years, how do they plan to remain competitive during Devers’ prime years?
Boston has three prospects in MLB’s top 100 — Marcelo Mayer, Triston Casas and Ceddanne Rafaela — with Rafaela coming in at 96 and Casas already knocking on the door of the roster having to prove himself as early as next season. There’s not necessarily a fertile pipeline here despite MLB.com ranking it as the 11th farm system in baseball during the second half of 2022.
The jury’s still out on Brayan Bello. Bobby Dalbec has already been dangled in trade talks. Christian Arroyo is a makeshift utility player. They have some promising guys like Casas, Tanner Houck, John Schrieber and Zack Kelly, but 2023 seems to be a pressure-filled, crucial development year for the rest of the young talent in the organization.
Another aspect of their outlook that’s fairly crazy is that they have at least $112 million committed to their payroll from 2024-2028 after the Devers deal. How?! Who else are they paying beyond 2025?!
Unless Bloom’s decisions suddenly become wildly successful as much as his failures have been abysmal, and unless John Henry and Tom Werner start spending closer to Steve Cohen levels rather than Stuart Sternberg levels, it’s hard to see the Red Sox building their next great contender with Devers leading the charge.