Welp, we can cross one huge name off the Cubs’ 2024 wish list. As first reported by Carlos Baerga and subsequently confirmed by other outlets, the Red Sox have agreed to an 11-year, $332 million extension with third baseman Rafael Devers. I guess it’s technically a 10-year, $313.5 million deal because they had already settled on a $17.5 million arbitration salary for 2023. This follows reports that the two sides were galaxies apart, which spurred speculation that the Sox could trade their star.
Confirmed: The Boston #RedSox have signed Rafael Devers to an 11-year, $332 million contract extension, as Carlos Baerga first reported.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 4, 2023
That talk naturally interested Cubs fans because Devers is a lefty power hitter who still has several years of prime athletic performance ahead of him. He’s exactly the kind of player around whom Jed Hoyer could build the Next Great Cubs Team, but that’s obviously out of the question now.
Next winter’s free agent market was already going to be pretty thin at the top and it just took a big hit. Shohei Ohtani is the clear crown jewel and Manny Machado will an expected to opt out, but there’s a drop-off at that point. Not great for a Cubs team that has spent the last two offseasons seeking value while letting other teams spend on the top players.
Sure, they’ll theoretically have the money to land Ohtani even if he indeed commands $500 million. It’ll cost much less to land Machado as he heads into his age-31 season, though it’s easy to see him getting more than the five years and $150 million he’ll leave on the table with San Diego. Do you really believe Hoyer would go after either?
And that’s assuming neither is extended by their current teams or traded and then extended by a new team. It’s getting more difficult to see how the Cubs add star power in free agency, something they really need even with phenomenal internal development. That leaves the trade market, which means getting more comfortable parting with a combination of prospects and young big leaguers. Unless you think it’s possible to simply build from the farm while adding complementary pieces, a process that offers precious little room for error.
Guess we’ll have to wait and see.