Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made it clear during the putrid 2020 season that he wanted Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts to be a part of the Red Sox’ future.
As the Sox spiraled toward last place in the American League East during a COVID-19-shortened season, the future and where Bloom would turn undoubtedly was in question. The team traded away former MVP Mookie Betts, and fans rightfully questioned what that would mean for the team’s other star players. Yet Bloom was adamant that he wanted to merge Devers and Bogaerts’s prime years with his overall mission of long-term sustainability.
He reiterated that Monday.
“Both of them are cornerstone players,” Bloom said during a season-ending news conference. “They are guys that you want here as long as you can. They’re a huge part of what we did this year. They are a huge part of the last championship. They’re going to be a huge part of our success going forward.”
That doesn’t negate some of the decisions for the Sox, but it perhaps quells some nerves. Bogaerts has emerged as one of the best, if not the best, offensive shortstops in baseball. He signed a six-year, $120 million extension at the start of 2019. That contract has proved to be a steal: In his last three seasons, Bogaerts produced an .899 OPS, second in the majors among qualified shortstops to Trea Turner’s .900.
Bogaerts slugged the fourth-most homers (67) for an everyday shortstop, and hit .302 (third-best) these three seasons. He has an opt-out at the end of 2022, and is underpaid if you consider the contracts of shortstop rivals Fernando Tatis Jr. (14 years and $340 million with San Diego) and Francisco Lindor (10 years and $341 million).
Bogaerts, who just turned 29, would be in line for a huge pay day if he exercised his opt-out.
Devers is in his second year of arbitration, and is due for a big bump from the $4.575 million he earned this year. Since 2019, Devers has belted 81 homers, ranking third in the majors at his position. His OPS in that span (.886) is just second to Alex Bregman (.907).
“We have a lot of conversations to have,” Bloom said, “a lot of things to weigh out as far as how we’ll go through the offseason. But we want them here. And we want to win with them.”
While Devers has improved at third base, he’s still not a good one. He’s committed 58 errors since 2019, the most of any third baseman. Yoan Moncada is second with 37. But Bloom noted while Devers “quote unquote struggles defensively . . . on a daily basis you want Raffy Devers there.”
Devers had to grind through an arm injury during the postseason. The Red Sox said that it was just elbow inflammation, showing no structural damage, and expect rest will heal that area.
First-base coach Tom Goodwin out
The Red Sox parted ways with first base coach Tom Goodwin, Bloom announced Monday.
Goodwin, who is unvaccinated, was ruled ineligible for the postseason. Major League Baseball made it a mandate that all coaching staffs were vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the start of the playoffs. Goodwin refused, forcing Sox quality control coach Ramón Vázquez to fill in at first.
Yet the Red Sox said Goodwin’s firing was entirely a baseball decision.
“We love Goody,” manager Alex Cora said. “I felt as a group, we needed to move forward. We have to keep improving. From digging into information, connecting, connecting with the coaching staff, connecting with the front office. This is not a knock on Goody. It’s just what we’re trying to do as a group.”
Goodwin was also in charge of the outfield defense and base running, two areas where the Sox struggled. The Red Sox outfield committed 23 errors, tied with the Cardinals for the most in baseball, and decision-making on the bases ran the team out of some pivotal innings.
“Your running game goes with the personnel,” Cora said. “Overall, we were OK. I think we’re going to have some things we’ll address in the offseason. We have to recognize a few things and keep getting better.”
Vaccination playing into decision-making
The Red Sox never made it to the 85-percent threshold which deemed a team fully vaccinated under MLB policies. The decision to sign free agents or re-sign players who aren’t vaccinated still has little definition according to Bloom, but it will be something that’s assessed. “My guess is this is going to be a topic where by the time, even as we get deeper in the offseason, and certainly by the time we get to camp next year, we’re gonna know a lot more about how the industry is going to handle this collectively. There might be decisions or conversations that happen on a collective basis.” Bloom said the Sox organization is an advocate for vaccines, and will continue to have conversations with players who are under contract and aren’t vaccinated. “I think part of our responsibility to everybody in this organization is that we want them to be healthy so they can do their jobs,” Bloom said. “So anything that falls under that umbrella, we’re gonna continue to try to help our players with” . . . J.D. Martinez has an opt-out this year, too. If he exercises it, the Red Sox could re-sign free agent Kyle Schwarber to be their everyday designated hitter. Martinez hit .286/.349/.518 with 28 homers and was tied with three players for a league-leading 42 doubles. Martinez is owed $19.35 million in the last year of his deal . . . Franchy Cordero, who was recently designated for assignment, made it through waivers and was outrighted to Triple A Worcester.