Details on spring extension talks between Red Sox and Rafael Devers

Before the start of the season, the Red Sox and the third baseman Raphael Devers engaged in extension talks which did not yield much progress as the two sides were reportedly separated by around $100 million in their floating prices. Some additional details on the negotiations were shared by Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, who reports that the Sox have seen Matt Olson‘s extension with the Braves as a possible template for a Devers deal.

Olson signed his eight-year, $168 million extension (with a $20 million club option for 2030) just a day after Atlanta landed the first baseman in a blockbuster trade with the Athletics . Both Devers and Olson are in the same service time class and were in check through 2023 via a final year of arbitration eligibility. In April, MLBTR’s Anthony Franco looked at Devers through the lens of the Olson extension, but also remarked that “obviously Olson and Devers aren’t doing an apples-to-apples comparison.”

From Boston’s perspective, eight years and $168 million had been established as the market rate for a star first baseman, and Speier writes that the Sox were looking for an extension in that range.”citing the likelihood of Devers spending much of the contract either at first base or the designated hitter.

Devers’ long-term viability as a third baseman has long been questioned, as (depending on which defensive metric is chosen) his glove work has generally been below average throughout his career. This year, Devers has a -6.6 UZR/150, -2 defensive points saved and an even 0 in Outs Above Average, indicating a slight improvement from his previous numbers. For what it’s worth, OAA is the metric that has been most favorable to Devers, as his glove work in 2019 received a whopping +17 OAA (with a more modest +2.4 UZR/150 and -5 DRS).

Olson happens to be one of the best defensive first basemen in the league, which no doubt also figured into the argument the Red Sox presented to Devers’ agents at Rep 1 Baseball. However, it is also quite easy to understand the counter-arguments that the Devers camp could make. Devers is more than two and a half years younger than Olson, third base is the most difficult position, and Devers has more home plate advantage.

From 2017-2021, Devers hit .279/.338/.509 with 112 home runs in 2,344 plate appearances. During the same streak, Olson hit .254/.348/.515 with 142 home runs in 2341 AP, with Olson also playing his home games in the pitcher-friendly Coliseum while Devers hitting at Fenway Park. Of course, Devers also started his MLB career at age 20, and he’s already contributed significantly to a World Series champion.

The 2022 season has done more to bolster Devers’ case for a huge contract investment. Devers leads all AL batters with 112 hits at the All-Star break, with 22 homers and a .324/.379/.601 slash line in 377 AP. A below-average walk rate (a consistent problem for Devers throughout his career) is about the only flaw on an otherwise strong Statcast page, because if Devers’s smell rate and chase rate are both mediocre, he is in the 70th percentile for strikeout rate – his 18% K% is the second lowest of his career. Devers’ 170 wRC+ is the league’s fourth-best skilled batsman, topped by only Yordan Alvarez, Paul Goldschmidtand Judge Aaron.

Devers is expected to reach free agency before his 27-year-old season, and this earlier entry into the open market carries the promise of more top-notch years under contract, and therefore a higher asking price for any team interested. . Devers avoided arbitration with the Sox and is playing the 2022 season on a salary of $11.2 million, so it’s easy to predict that his 2023 arb salary will be around $16 million. Assuming Boston’s extension offer covered the 2023 campaign, and assuming an offer in the vicinity of Olson’s deal, it would have cost Devers’ first seven years as a free agent (his age of 27 to 33) to around $152 million.

Beyond trying to find a magic salary acceptable to both parties, the larger question might be whether the Red Sox have an interest in locking Devers in at anything short of a semi-bargain price. On paper, there’s plenty of long-term room in Boston’s payroll for a Devers mega-deal. A lot of money comes off the books after the season, with people like Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Christian Vazquez, Michael Wacha, Enrique Hernandez, Jackie Bradley Jr.and James Paxton all either slated for free agency or potential free agents based on contract options (like Bogaerts’ opt-out clause, which he is widely expected to exercise).

Locking up Devers would be a way to bolster the roster if some or all of those hitters leave, and make him the face of the franchise for the rest of the decade. Trevor’s StoryThe six-year, $140 million free agent deal is the biggest deal given to a Red Sox player since Chaim Bloom was hired as the organization’s director of baseball. On the extension front, the Sox gave an early career contract to Garret Whitlock and short-term extensions for Matt Barnes and André Benintendi, but nothing remotely in the realm of what a Devers extension would cost. It remains to be seen how Bloom plans to reshape Boston’s roster during what could be a rather transformative offseason, and of course there’s still plenty of time for further negotiations with Devers before the third baseman arrives on the scene. the free market.