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A new 11-year, $331 million extension is reached between Rafael Devers and the Red Sox

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Rafael Devers

Rafael Devers and the Boston Red Sox are completing an 11-year, $331 million contract extension, sources tell ESPN, a deal that will prevent the 26-year-old standout from becoming a free agent this year and is the longest and most lucrative guarantee in organisation history.

The pact, which would be the highest ever for a third baseman, comes during a difficult winter for the Red Sox, who lost longstanding shortstop Xander Bogaerts to the San Diego Padres in free agency nearly three years after sending star right fielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Offering Devers a contract far longer than Manny Ramirez’s eight-year pact and more than 50 percent greater than David Price’s $217 million deal was sufficient to convince the two-time All-Star to lead the Red Sox out of last place in the American League East and back into contention.

According to sources, the contract will begin in 2023 and go until the 2033 season. The one-year, $17.5 million pact Devers struck earlier this week to avoid arbitration will be replaced by the long-term agreement.

Devers debuted with Boston in 2017 at the age of 20 and immediately demonstrated why scouts adored his bat. His left-handed swing was ideal for Fenway Park, with doubles bouncing off the Green Monster and home rockets flying to right field. The wisdom of Devers has only risen. He hit.295/.358/.521 with 27 home runs, 88 RBIs, and a career-high OPS+ of 141 in 2022.

It was comparable to his 2021 campaign, in which he hit 38 home runs, and his 2019 campaign, in which he led the major leagues with 359 total bases at the age of 22. With the departures of Bogaerts and Betts, whose defining quality was dependability, his consistency made him the ideal choice to retain for the long term. Chaim Bloom, the chief baseball officer for the Boston Red Sox, and Nelson Montes de Oca, the agent for Rafael Devers, had wildly divergent assessments during early negotiations.

It is unclear whether the blowback from losing Bogaerts and Betts — or simply losing — had a bearing on the conclusion of the transaction. But on Monday, when Fenway Park hosted the magnificent Winter Classic, spectators booed John Henry, a reflection of their feelings toward the owner who helped the Red Sox end an 86-year World Series drought and win two more titles.

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Bogaerts walking away from an offer that was tens of millions of dollars short stung, especially after the Red Sox designated Jeter Downs, the primary prospect return in the Betts trade, for assignment days later. Bogaerts, 30, was a homegrown star like Devers, with five Silver Sluggers, four All-Star selections, and two World Series rings. Red Sox fans adjusting to last-place finishes in two of the past three seasons and an ALCS appearance found the idea of Bogaerts and Devers manning the left side of the infield to be natural.

When Bogaerts left, the spotlight naturally shifted to Devers, who benefited significantly from the winter’s megadeals. Aaron Judge received $360 million from the New York Yankees, ranking first on the list. Trea Turner was given $300 million by Philadelphia, while Bogaerts was given $280 million by the Padres. And Carlos Correa committed to two contracts worth more than $300 million, despite his uncertain medical situation.

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

In the new age of the Red Sox, Devers will be the roster’s cornerstone and the face of the team. Though the third baseman has improved defensively over this career, he could potentially move to first base or designated hitter down the road. It does not matter what position he plays as long as his swing and productivity are even a fraction of what he has done in the past.