LOS ANGELES — While the Red Sox have at times engaged in contract talks with players during the All-Star break, third baseman Rafael Devers — prior to starting and batting third in the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night — reiterated his spring training stance that he would not discuss a long-term deal again until after the season.
“I don’t want to worry about that. That’s why, like I mentioned after spring training, I wasn’t going to talk about any contract discussions throughout the season because I don’t want that type of distraction,” Devers said through translator Bryan Loor-Almonte. “That’s something that’s between the team and me.”
Devers confirmed that the Red Sox’ proposal in spring training had used Atlanta first baseman Matt Olson’s eight-year, $168 million extension as a basis for negotiations.
“[The Sox offer] was pretty similar,” said Devers. “I know my value. I don’t want to be compared with anyone else, regardless of what the position is. I’m me, and that’s who I want to be compared to. I know what my value is.”
Asked if he wanted to say what that was, Devers — and lockermate Xander Bogaerts — broke into laughter.
“You’re trying to get me!” Devers said.
Devers said that his focus is on what the 2022 Red Sox can accomplish — with some hopes that the team will pursue reinforcements before the Aug. 2 trade deadline to improve its chances of a postseason push.
“Obviously [the trade deadline is] something that we all have thought about,” he said. “We know that we have to improve on the field. So if that’s through the trade deadline, great, but we also know that we had some injuries as well. So it’s something that we’re constantly thinking about — how can we improve — and I know that [Sox officials] are thinking about that, too, and they’ll do whatever they feel is best for the team.”
Schwarber remembers Waltham
Kyle Schwarber is no longer “Kyle from Waltham,” but he remains “All-Star Kyle.”
Schwarber — who joined the Red Sox at the trade deadline last year and immediately emerged as a fan favorite before leaving in free agency — is leading the NL with 29 homers for the Phillies, with his power-hitting prowess earning his second straight All-Star Game selection.
With Red Sox first basemen ranking in the bottom five in MLB in average (.205), OBP (.280), and slugging (.341), it’s been easy to wonder how different the lineup might have looked had Schwarber re-signed — a particularly tantalizing notion given that Schwarber, former teammates believed, was open to staying with the Sox on a discount. But Schwarber said that even though he and the team had some conversations at the start of the offseason, they never resumed in meaningful fashion once MLB’s lockout ended in mid-March.
“There was some conversation, but it didn’t go much after the lockout,” said Schwarber. “I enjoyed my time in Boston. I loved it, had a great time. Now, being in Philly, it’s an A-plus organization, and I love the team we’ve got.”
Three players who were drafted by the Red Sox were 2022 All-Stars, though none as current members of the Sox.
Mookie Betts (2011 fifth round) is, of course, now one of the most prominent players in the game. He started in center and hit second for the National League.
Andrew Benintendi (2015 first round), who was traded to Kansas City prior to the 2021 season, made his first All-Star Game after hitting .317/.386/.401. He credited an overhauled approach tailored to Kauffman Stadium’s vast dimensions for his performance.
“I feel like my approach right now is realizing that I’m not going to go hit 35 homers or 30 home runs, just get on base, be a tough out, see pitches, use the whole field,” said Benintendi. “I think this year it has finally come together.”
Benintendi — a popular rental trade candidate as he nears free agency this winter — was recently unable to travel to Toronto to face the Blue Jays because he was unvaccinated for COVID-19. He declined to say whether he would consider getting vaccinated if traded.
Perhaps most improbably, Santiago Espinal — a 10th-round Sox selection in 2016 — is also an All-Star after hitting .271/.320/.391 in the first half for the Blue Jays. The 27-year-old infielder said that he’d received a number of congratulatory messages from members of the Red Sox organization, including one from Willie Romay, the area scout who identified him as a “gut-feel” pick in that draft.
Espinal said that he relishes his place in Red Sox history as the player who was dealt for 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce.
“When I saw that he was World Series MVP, I took it as motivation to work harder,” said Espinal. “I wanted to be that guy, too. I want to be the World Series MVP. [The trade] motivates me to get there.”
Manfred checks in
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, in a session with Baseball Writers’ Association of America members, became testy during an exchange about wages for minor leaguers. “I reject the premise that minor league players are not paid a living wage,” said Manfred, pointing to the league’s new-in-2022 requirement that teams provide housing for players. Advocates for Minor Leaguers, an advocacy group that seeks improved working conditions for minor leaguers, took issue with the claim, noting that minor leaguers are paid only from April through September. “Most minor league baseball players work second jobs because their annual salaries are insufficient to make ends meet,” the group said . . . In a separate session with the BBWAA, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark was asked if he was concerned if gambling was “getting too close for comfort” in the game. “Getting? No. Is? Yeah,” said Clark. “We’re entering a very delicate and, dare I say, dangerous world here.” . . . The three nominees for the BBWAA’s Excellence Award are Gerry Fraley, Bruce Jenkins, and John Lowe. Fraley, who died in 2019, was a longtime reporter with the Dallas Morning news. Jenkins was with the San Francisco Chronicle from 1973-21, and Lowe covered the Tigers for 29 seasons for the Detroit Free Press . . . The pregame festivities included a tribute to Jackie Robinson featuring Denzel Washington. MLB also recognized Robinson’s widow, Rachel, who turned 100 on Tuesday . . . Former Dodger great Fernando Valenzuela threw out the first pitch to Toronto catcher and fellow Mexico native Alejandro Kirk.