The Boston Red Sox' inability thus far to work out contract extensions with two homegrown All-Stars in shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers is starting to upset the team's former players.
And not just any former players. We're talking about franchise icons and/or guys who have won the World Series in Boston.
David Ortiz has made his feelings on Devers and Bogaerts well known. He's very much in the camp of paying these guys and keeping them long term. Dustin Pedroia feels the same way, even calling Bogaerts "one of those guys you build a team around."
Jonathan Papelbon chimed in this week, too. The former Red Sox closer and 2007 World Series champ made the case that, in addition to their fantastic talent, Bogaerts and Devers are great clubhouse guys as well.
"If the Red Sox want to create something for a long-term ability to compete year-in and year-out, they will keep both of them," Papelbon recently told Alex Reimer on the Sports Media Mayhem podcast.
"But I think the problem with the Red Sox office and many front offices is they think they can outsmart the system, and we can go find somebody else who can replace them. But here’s what you don’t know, man. You can’t replace clubhouse guys, and you can’t replace the guys who bring it every day and make sure the rest of the guys bring it every day. In my opinion, Bogaerts and Devers, those are the two guys in that clubhouse that do that."
Papelbon also joined WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" on Friday morning and took aim at Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
"If Chaim Bloom keeps this act up, he ain't going to survive in Boston," Papelbon said. "You want to talk about being able to play in Boston, this dude isn't going to survive in Boston because you've got to win in Boston. If you're a general manager and you're not winning in Boston and you're not keeping up with what other teams are doing and what other teams are paying and how other teams are winning -- guess what, you're not going to have a job, just like the players."
Bogaerts can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Devers is under team control for one more year before he can become a UFA.
The Red Sox traded Mookie Betts two years ago when they couldn't reach an extension with the former AL MVP. A similar situation unfolding with Bogaerts or Devers would be a colossal failure for a franchise that has enormous resources.