The Red Sox and third baseman Rafael Devers have agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2023 season, thus avoiding salary arbitration, the club announced earlier Tuesday afternoon. The deal is worth $17.5 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Devers was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $16.9 million in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility. The 26-year-old will instead receive a 56.3 percent raise from the $11.2 million he took home in 2022.
In 141 games for the Red Sox last season, Devers batted .295/.358/.521 with 42 doubles, one triple, 27 home runs, 88 RBIs, 84 runs scored, three stolen bases, 50 walks, and 114 strikeouts over 614 plate appearances. The left-handed hitter made his second straight All-Star team and finished 14th in American League MVP voting despite being hindered a right hamstring injury throughout the second half of the campaign.
Defensively, Devers logged 1,186 innings at third base in 2022. The 6-foot, 240-pound infielder was worth negative-six defensive runs saved and negative-two outs above average at the hot corner, per FanGraphs.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Devers originally signed with Boston as a highly-touted international free agent in August 13. After establishing himself as one of baseball’s top prospects, the young slugger made his major-league debut at the age of 20 in July 2017.
Since then, Devers has compiled a .283/.342/.512 slash line to go along with 139 home runs and 455 RBIs in 689 career games with the Red Sox across six big-league seasons. In addition to being a two-time All-Star, Devers won his first World Series title in 2018 and his first Silver Slugger Award in 2021.
Devers, who turns 27 in October, is currently slated to become a free agent for the first time in his career at the conclusion of the 2023 season. The Red Sox have made it clear that they would like to sign one of their franchise cornerstones to a long-term contract extension, especially after shortstop Xander Bogaerts left for the Padres in free agency last month.
“He has been somebody that we love and want right at the center of everything we hope to accomplish, obviously in 2023 but more importantly, in the years beyond,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Devers in a recent conversation with MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. “Because those are the years he’s not under our control. We’re hoping to change that.”
While Bloom and Co. have expressed a desire to retain Devers beyond 2023, they are running out of time do so. Last month, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported that Devers — who is represented by REP1 Baseball — would not entertain any extension negotiations during the regular season, meaning an agreement would have to be reached by the end of spring training.
It remains to be seen how close the two sides are to a long-term deal at this point. With that being said, though, avoiding arbitration could prove to be a step in the right direction for both player and club.
With Devers locked in for 2023, the Red Sox have six remaining players who are eligible for salary arbitration in right-handers Ryan Brasier and Nick Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor, catcher Reese McGuire, infielder Christian Arroyo, and outfielder Alex Verdugo.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)