Matt Olson is not a fair contract comparison to what Rafael Devers should get but the Boston Red Sox are offering that to him anyway.
How serious are the Boston Red Sox about keeping Rafael Devers in Beantown? So far, it’s not looking like they’re willing to go above and beyond to keep their star third baseman very long.
Devers, an All-Star for the second straight season, is well on his way to becoming a cornerstone of the franchise. Still only 25 years old, he’s making a strong push for a mega contract. He went into the All-Star Break with a league-best 112 hits while paired with 22 home runs, 55 RBI, and a slash line of .324/.379/.601.
How much will it cost to keep Devers in Boston? It’s going to take a lot more than trying to match what the Atlanta Braves offered to first baseman Matt Olson—the reported comparison the Red Sox have used to try and extend him.
The Red Sox can’t be serious with this contract offer to Rafael Devers
Matt Olson is a very different player than Rafael Devers. They play two different positions and are three years apart. Devers’ position at third base already gives him a slight leg-up although even if we did factor in Olson’s Gold Glove abilities, we can only call it a draw. However, it’s much tougher to find a long-term third baseman than someone to play first base. The Red Sox might be the only contender in baseball right now without an answer at first base so maybe they’ve been misguided.
Devers hasn’t outperformed Olson exponentially. He owns a lifetime .285/.343/.522 slash line compared to the .253/.347/.507 Olson has hit in his career. It’s really only the batting average that separates the two largely.
But even if we call it all even, Devers’ age has to play a factor. Under team control through next season as well, he’d hit free agency at a relatively young age which should put him at least in the conversation for a deal approaching $250 million.
The deal Olson signed with the Braves would have made plenty of people happy but it was “only” worth $168 million over 8 seasons for an AAV of $21 million. A year later with Devers being the younger player and a top five MVP candidate, one would expect the Red Sox to come much closer to something at least reaching $200 million. Even that could be considered a lowball offer.
What’s a fair offer the Red Sox can make to Rafael Devers?
An AAV of $21 million would put Devers in the neighborhood of what Jose Ramirez got from the Cleveland Guardians. Many would consider his acceptance of that contract as a bargain. While Devers has more to prove to reach Ramirez’s status, one would have to believe he should get north of the $23 million Josh Donaldson is getting paid.
It would be a mistake by the Red Sox to trade and give Devers close to the $35 million AAV Anthony Rendon is getting from the Los Angeles Angels to slump and spend a lot of time on the IL. They do have an advantage over some of those other deals signed with third basemen. Devers is young and the number of years to spread out those dollars can actually help them.
At minimum, the Red Sox need to pay Devers more than Trevor Story and his $23.3 million AAV he’s receiving. Sometimes the best comparisons you can find aren’t down in Atlanta; they’re on your own roster. An 8-year deal at $200 million is far less insulting than trying to match what the Braves gave Olson. It also probably won’t be nearly enough to get Devers to sign.