Rafael Devers and Red Sox complete 11-year, $331 million extension

Third baseman Rafael Devers and the Boston Red Sox are finalizing an 11-year, $331 million contract extension, sources tell ESPN, a deal that will keep the 26-year-old star from reaching free agency this year and is the longest and greatest guarantee. ever given by the franchise.

The deal, which is expected to be signed Wednesday night and would be the largest ever for a third baseman, comes amid a difficult winter for the Red Sox, who lost longtime shortstop Xander Bogaerts in San Diego in free agency nearly three years. after trading star right fielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Offering Devers a deal far longer than Manny Ramirez’s eight-year deal and more than 50% bigger than David Price’s $217 million deal was enough to get the two-time All-Star to agree to out the Red Sox from last place in the American League East and back to contention.

The contract will start in 2023 and run until the 2033 season, sources said. The one-year, $17.5 million contract Devers signed earlier in the week to avoid arbitration will be replaced with the long-term deal.

Devers made his Boston debut at age 20 in 2017 and quickly illustrated why scouts loved his bat so much. His left-hand swing was perfectly suited to Fenway Park, with doubles against the green monster and home runs to right field. Devers’ insight only grew. In 2022, he hit .295/.358/.521 with 27 home runs, 88 RBIs and career-best OPS+.

It was similar to his 2021 season, in which Devers hit 38 home runs, and 2019, when he led the major leagues with 359 total goals at age 22. Consistency made them the ideal candidate to stay long-term with the losses of Bogaerts and Betts, whose stability was one of their defining characteristics. Early negotiations over a deal bore no fruit, with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Devers’ agent, Rep. 1’s Nelson Montes de Oca, wide apart in their ratings.

It’s unclear if the backlash of losing Bogaerts and Betts — and just losing — had any effect on the deal getting done. But on Monday, as Fenway Park hosted the majestic Winter Classic, fans booed Red Sox owner John Henry, proof of the city’s sentiment towards the owner under whom the team broke its 86-year drought in the World Series before winning three more championships.

Seeing Bogaerts walk in with an offer of tens of millions of dollars short, especially with the Red Sox singling out Jeter Downs, the main returning prospect in the Betts deal, for assignment just days after. Bogaerts, 30, was, like Devers, a local star: five Silver Sluggers, four All-Star appearances and a pair of World Series rings. The notion of a long-term left side of the infield with him and Devers seemed natural to a Red Sox fan base accepting the bottom spot two of the last three seasons, sandwiched around an ALCS appearance.

When Bogaerts left, attention naturally turned to Devers, who benefited greatly from the mega-bids given out this winter. Aaron Judge tops the list with $360 million from the New York Yankees. Trea Turner got $300 million from Philadelphia, Bogaerts $280 million from the Padres. And Carlos Correa agreed to a pair of deals worth more than $300 million, though medical frailties have his status in limbo.

Beyond Bogaerts this winter, World Series hero Nathan Eovaldi left for the Texas Rangers, and the Red Sox failed to sign multiple free agent targets. Instead, the Red Sox redistributed resources across the roster, adding Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida on a five-year, $90 million deal, relievers Kenley Jansen (two years, $32 million) and Chris Martin (two, $17 million), third baseman. Justin Turner at two years for $21 million and starter Corey Kluber at one year and $10 million.

Devers will be the cornerstone of the roster and the face of the franchise for the Red Sox’s new era. Although the third baseman has improved defensively over the course of his career, he could potentially move to first base or designated hitter later on. But as long as his swing and production are even a facsimile of what he’s done in his young career, it doesn’t matter what position he’s in.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

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