As a Red Sox fan, it's hard not to feel frustrated and disillusioned with the team's Chief Baseball Officer, Chaim Bloom, and, more importantly, Red Sox Owner John Henry, after yet another offseason filled with disappointment.
The loss of star shortstop Xander Bogaerts to the San Diego Padres for a massive 11-year, $280 million deal was a tough pill to swallow for Red Sox fans. In the wake of that move, Bloom had claimed that extending third baseman Rafael Devers would be the team's top priority. According to a report from The New York Post, the Red Sox were willing to offer Devers a contract in the mid $200 million range, while Devers was reportedly asking for $300 million. Given that Devers is four years younger than Bogaerts, it's hard to argue that the $300 million asking price isn't reasonable. Unfortunately, the Red Sox's ownership is unwilling to pay players what they are worth, a trend that has been going on for years.
Over the weekend, there were reports that the Red Sox were preparing to make a new contract offer to Devers in the coming days, which was encouraging news for Red Sox fans. However, on Monday, ESPN's Joon Lee reported that according to multiple league sources, the Red Sox and Devers are "galaxies apart" in their contract negotiations. As a result, the current expectation from Devers and his camp is that the third baseman will be a free agent at the end of 2023. This news is disheartening for Red Sox fans, as Devers is an integral part of the team, and losing him would be a huge blow.
Unfortunately, this news shouldn't surprise Red Sox fans, as it seems to be a pattern with the team's ownership. Regardless of their youth, talent, or regard, they have consistently been unwilling to go long-term with players. This dates back to their ownership of the team, starting with the failed negotiations with Nomar Garciaparra in 2002. Despite initially agreeing to a new contract, disputes over money and Garciaparra's durability caused the deal to fall apart, and he was eventually traded to the Chicago Cubs.
Similarly, Jon Lester was given a five-year, $30 million contract before the 2009 season. But when that deal was set to expire at the end of the 2014 season, despite Lester's successes with the team and his status as the Red Sox's ace pitcher, the team's ownership was unwilling to extend the contract further. Instead, they traded him to the Oakland Athletics at the 2014 Trade Deadline. Lester signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs in December 2014 and helped lead the team to their first World Series title in 108 years in 2016. The Red Sox's ownership missed out on a great opportunity by letting Lester go, a decision that still haunts the team today.
Even Red Sox legend David Ortiz struggled to get the long-term deal he deserved in the later part of his career. In 2011, Ortiz had a .899 OPS over 600 PAs and received a one-year, $12.5 million extension from the Red Sox. But despite his continued success with the team, the Red Sox were hesitant to offer him a long-term deal. It wasn't until after the 2015 season, when Ortiz was 40 years old, that the Red Sox finally offered him a two-year, $30 million extension. Unfortunately, it's clear that the Red Sox's ownership missed out on the opportunity to secure Ortiz for the long term while he was still in his prime, and it's a decision that has likely cost the team in the long run.
The latest example of the Red Sox's ownership failing to commit to their players is the case of Mookie Betts. Betts, a former MVP, and World Series champion with the Red Sox, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020 due to the team's lack of willingness to pay him what he was worth. Betts, who was set to become a free agent after the 2020 season, was reportedly seeking a long-term deal in the range of $400 million. The Red Sox, however, were unwilling to pay him that much and instead traded him to the Dodgers.
The decision to trade Betts was met with widespread anger, disappointment, and frustration from Red Sox fans, who saw Betts as a cornerstone player for the team. Betts had consistently been one of the best players in the league during his time with the Red Sox, and his departure was a significant blow to the team. It's clear that the Red Sox's ownership missed out on an excellent opportunity to secure a player of Betts's caliber for the long term, and it's a decision that has likely cost the team in the long run.
The Red Sox's ownership's lack of commitment to their players is a significant reason why the team has struggled in recent years and has failed to build a sustainable winning team. It's disheartening for Red Sox fans to see their favorite players leave for other groups or struggle to get the long-term deals they deserve from the Red Sox's ownership. The Betts trade is just one example of this problem, and it's a trend that needs to change if the Red Sox hopes to compete in the future.
It's clear that the Red Sox's ownership has a history of being unwilling to commit to players, particularly their own, for the long term, and it's a trend that doesn't seem to be changing with Devers. This lack of commitment to their players is a significant reason why the Red Sox have struggled in recent years and have failed to build a sustainable winning team. It's disheartening for Red Sox fans to see their favorite players leave for other groups or struggle to get the long-term deals they deserve from the Red Sox's ownership.
As a Red Sox fan, it's hard not to feel frustrated and disillusioned with the team's ownership and lack of commitment to their players. It's disappointing for Red Sox fans, and it's hard to trust the team's ownership moving forward. However, it's time for the Red Sox's ownership to step up and show their commitment to building a winning team by paying their players what they are worth and committing to them for the long term. Only then can Red Sox fans hope for their beloved team's future.