Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts Pose Two Big Questions For Red Sox Offseason

Is it time to move one or both players' positions?

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October 25, 2021

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts are franchise cornerstones for the Boston Red Sox, that much is indisputable.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on Monday, in the end of the season press conference, alluded to the Red Sox establishing their core this season. He identified them as the select group of guys who won in 2018 that are still around, mixed with some of the newcomers who figure to be around for a while. Devers and Bogaerts absolutely are under that umbrella.

But, with that, comes two questions: Will their contract situations get addressed this offseason, and will they still be on the left side of the infield when next season begins?

Devers is knocking on the door to a monster contract extension. He has two more years of team control, but given the market for high-end third basemen (see: Machado, Manny) the Red Sox would be well-advised to get him signed to an extension sooner rather than later. It would be mutually beneficial, giving both team and player peace of mind even if it prevents Devers from testing the market.

Bogaerts, though in the middle of a long-term extension he signed in 2019, has an opt-out clause in his deal after next season. Given the market for premier shortstops (look at the deals Francisco Lindor and Fernando Tatís Jr. got, as well as what Carlos Correa will get), it would be shocking if Bogaerts didn’t opt out and try to cash in on another high-money, long-term deal. After all, 2023 will only be his age-30 season.

The path to get there is unclear, but the Red Sox want both players around long-term.

“I think with both guys,” Bloom said, “Obviously we’re early in the offseason and we haven’t dove into the specifics of how we would handle either of those guys and their situations, but both of them are cornerstone players for us. They are guys that you want here as long as you can have them here. They’re a huge part of what we did this year, they were a huge part of the last championship, they’re going to be a huge part of our success going forward.

“Obviously, what that means — when we address it, how we address it — it’s still early to say. We have a lot of conversations to have, a lot of things to lay out as far as how we’re going to go through the offseason, but we want them here and we want to win with them.”

Then comes the question of what to do with the two defensively. Infield defense was a problem for the Red Sox this season, and while both at times show flashes of being elite, it too often comes in waves. Devers makes Gold Glove-caliber plays, but leads himself astray with his cannon of an arm that causes him to sail balls.

Bogaerts is a decent defensive player, but his range isn’t great compared to the game’s best at the position. He’ll absolutely make the plays he needs to make, but his somewhat limited range can prevent him from making those jaw-dropping plays.

Thus, it is not the most far-fetched theory for the Red Sox to move Devers to first and Bogaerts to third.

“Raffy Devers ‘struggles defensively’, but on a daily basis you want Raffy Devers,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Same thing with Xander Bogaerts, same thing with Christian Arroyo playing second base. We’ll address everything, we’ll talk about it, it’s so early, it’s too soon to start digging so deep into all this stuff. But I do believe the way we ended up playing and the things we found out as a group defensively is going to make us better not only in the offseason, but also next year.”

Whatever the Red Sox decide to do, having Devers and Bogaerts around in any capacity is imperative. That, clearly, is not lost on Red Sox brass. There are just particulars to figure out, but it all is being done with the objective of bringing the best out of both players in mind, while also ensuring they are compensated appropriately.

It’s a challenging dance, but one both sides seem to be keen on doing.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
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