What will the Boston Red Sox' infield look like in 2024?
That question doesn't have an easy answer, namely because two of the team's franchise cornerstones can be free agents in the near future. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts can opt out of his contract after the 2022 season, while Rafael Devers will become an unrestricted free agent in 2024 if he and the Red Sox can't agree on a new deal.
In a column over the weekend, ESPN's Buster Olney reported the Red Sox will "attempt to reignite" contract extension talks with Bogaerts and make "another effort" to reach a deal with Devers.
So, what are the odds that a deal for Bogaerts and/or Devers gets done? Olney sounded optimistic about Devers staying in Boston during an appearance on Audacy's "The Bradfo Show" with Rob Bradford.
"I think that they’re gonna make Devers an offer he can’t refuse," Olney told Bradford. "... I think the pressure will be on the Red Sox to pay Devers, and as we’re sitting here today, I think they will."
Boston reportedly used Matt Olson's eight-year, $168 million contract extension as a framework for negotiations with Devers, but they'd likely need to offer the 25-year-old All-Star much more to keep him around. But after trading superstar Mookie Betts in 2020, the Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox may decide it's finally time to pay up to retain a young superstar -- especially if Bogaerts decides to walk.
To that end, Olney didn't seem as bullish on the veteran shortstop remaining with the team after the Sox reportedly lowballed him this spring.
"I think that with Bogaerts, he’s far enough out the door," Olney told Bradford. "He’s got one foot out the door in a sense because he can opt out, his agent’s Scott Boras.
"There are going to be other teams I know that are going to be interested in him, he can get a better deal. The one-year extension offer in the spring -- not good in terms of stoking that relationship."
Losing Bogaerts, the Red Sox' longest-tenured player and most respected veteran, would be a tough blow for a team that appears to be stuck between contention and a rebuild. Losing both Bogaerts and Devers might be unpalatable for both fans and ownership, though, which may bode well for Devers' long-term future in Boston.