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

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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 free agency this year and constitutes the biggest and longest warranty ever given by the franchise.

The deal, expected to be signed Wednesday night and would be the biggest ever for a third baseman, comes amid a grueling winter for the Red Sox, which lost longtime shortstop Xander Bogaerts to the San Diego in almost three years. after trading right fielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Offering Devers a deal much longer than Manny Ramirez’s eight-year contract and more than 50% greater than David Price’s $217 million contract was enough for the two-time All-Star to agree to take the Red Sox from last place in the American League East and back into contention.

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

Devers debuted with Boston as a 20-year-old in 2017 and quickly illustrated why scouts loved his bat so much. His left-handed swing was perfectly suited for Fenway Park, with doubles knocking down the Green Monster and home runs being run into right field. Devers’ insight only increased. In 2022, he hit .295/.358/.521 with 27 home runs, 88 RBIs, and career-best OPS+.

It was similar to the 2021 season, in which Devers hit 38 home runs, and 2019, when he led the major leagues with 359 total bases as a 22-year-old. Consistency made him the perfect candidate to hang on to for the long haul with the defeats of Bogaerts and Betts, whose stability was among his defining characteristics. Early talks over a deal came to nothing, with Red Sox director of baseball Chaim Bloom and Devers’ agent Nelson Montes de Oca of Rep 1 distant in their assessments.

Whether the backlash of losing Bogaerts and Betts – and just losing – had any effect on the consummation of the deal is unclear. But on Monday, as Fenway Park hosted the majestic Winter Classic, fans booed Red Sox owner John Henry, a testament to sentiment in the city toward the owner under whom the team broke its 86-year drought in World Series before winning three more championships.

Seeing Bogaerts walk away with a tens of millions of dollars short offer, especially with the Red Sox assigning Jeter Downs, the top potential return in the Betts deal, just days later. 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 coming to terms with last place two of the last three seasons sandwiched around an ALCS appearance.

When Bogaerts left, the focus naturally turned to Devers, who benefited greatly from the mega-deals made this winter. Aaron Judge topped the list with $360 million for the New York Yankees. Trea Turner received $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 weaknesses have his status in limbo.

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

Devers will be the cornerstone of the roster and the franchise’s face for the new era of the Red Sox. Although the third baseman has improved defensively throughout his career, he could move to first base or designated hitter in the future. But as long as his swing and production are a copy of what he did in his young career, it doesn’t matter what position he’s playing.

Statistics and information from ESPN contributed to this report.