Red Sox can use Jose Ramirez extension as template for Rafael Devers

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Here’s what it would take for the Red Sox to extend Rafael Devers

The Boston Red Sox have yet to find a long-term extension for Raphael Devers but now we have an idea of ​​where the starting point should be after the Cleveland Guardians signed their own superstar third baseman to a new contract.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Jose Ramirez has agreed to a five-year, $124 million contract extension. The deal includes a full no-trade clause. With this year and the pickup of a 2023 option, Ramirez is guaranteed $150 million.

Ramirez is a three-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner who finished in the top three in AL MVP voting three times and finished sixth last season. Devers made his first All-Star appearance and won his first Silver Slugger last season. Although he has yet to reach the top 10 in the MVP race, the Red Sox expect their budding young superstar to join this elite class as he enters his prime.

Since 2017, Ramirez leads all major league third basemen with 28.0 WAR, by FanGraphs. Devers is a distant 12th with 12.9 fWAR over that span, though he’s played 100 fewer games since that sample includes an abbreviated rookie season for the Red Sox third baseman. Ramirez topped the position last season with 6.3 fWAR, giving him a comfortable lead over second-placed Devers (4.7 fWAR).

The noticeable gap in fWAR is created almost entirely by their defensive metrics. Ramirez has played mostly third base in recent years, but he’s capable of covering second base and spent time at shortstop earlier in his career. He plays those positions well, especially the hot corner where he produced 18 defensive points saved in eight seasons at that position. Devers is atrocious on the field, producing -38 DRS in less than five full seasons and consistently ranking among the league leaders in errors.

Despite the shortcomings of his glove work, Devers is going to be paid based on his bat. Offensively, his production was nearly identical to Ramirez’s final season.

Ramirez: .266/.355/.538, .372 wOBA, 137 wRC+, 36 home runs, 111 RBI
Devers: .279/.352/.538, .373 wOBA, 135 wRC+, 38 home runs, 101 RBI

Ramirez is expected to earn $12 million this season, which is slightly higher than the $11.2 million Devers received in his second year officiating. Devers is not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, when the extension for Ramirez takes effect.

The five-year extension portion of Ramirez’s deal carries an average annual value of $24.8 million, which is about what Devers should be aiming for.

The tricky part is that we don’t know what Devers would get next year in his final year of refereeing eligibility. We’d have to assume he’d get more of a bump than the $14 million Ramirez will earn from the bargain club option Cleveland picked up as part of this extension. However, Devers won’t come close to the nearly $25 million worth of extension years if he goes through the arbitration process next year.

A fair estimate for Devers next year would be $17 million, which is roughly what Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has projected for MLB Trade Rumors (The judge deposited $21 million while the Yankees offered $17 million, but it’s hard to see how the judge deserves to win his case if it goes to an arbitration panel).

Devers is four years younger than Ramirez, so he will obviously warrant a longer deal, although he could insist that an opt-out be built into the deal somewhere. For the sake of discussion, let’s follow the same plan by projecting a 10-year extension that will come into effect for Devers from 2023, buying out his final year of officiating. That gives Devers 11 years in total, four more than Ramirez.

2022: $11.2 million
2023: $17 million
2024: $24.8 million
2025: $24.8 million
2026: $24.8 million
2027: $24.8 million
2028: $24.8 million
2029: $24.8 million
2030: $24.8 million
2031: $24.8 million
2032: $24.8 million
Total: $251.4 million

The Red Sox would get more of his best years locking up Devers, 25, now, but the team is also accepting more risk with a contract that spans a decade. Ramirez’s superior defense and base run make him the best all-around player, which helps balance out the age gap. There’s no perfect comparison, but the Ramirez extension provides a template for where the Red Sox can open negotiations.

Whether or not Devers accepts anything in the vicinity of an 11-year, $251.4 million contract depends on what he values ​​most. If his goal is to maximize his potential revenue, then waiting for free agency will always be the most advantageous route, in which case Boston’s chances of getting an extension are only slightly above zero. If he wants the security of a long-term deal that protects him from serious injury risk or his defensive limitations leading teams to consider him a designated hitter later in his career, Devers could be ready to make a deal. now.

Time is running out before Opening Day and Devers has already said he is not interested in discussing his contract during the season. It might be a long short considering the short window, but Ramirez’s deal proves teams can do it at the last minute.


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