Papi: Red Sox need to keep Bogaerts, Devers
In less than two weeks, David Ortiz will be an official Hall of Famer. Right now, he is officially a huge fan of the Red Sox, and one who has a well-informed opinion of what it takes to succeed in Boston.
On Thursday, Ortiz was adamant in his belief that his former team should retain the team’s All-Star left side of the infield (Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers) beyond their existing contracts.
Bogaerts has an opt-out following the 2022 season from the three years and $60 million he would be due to make through ’25. The Red Sox have Devers under control through the end of the ’23 season.
It would pain Ortiz to see either of those cornerstone players wear another uniform.
“When you have a guy like [Devers] or Bogaerts in your lineup, that means you’re going to take pressure away from everybody else,” said Ortiz. “They know how to handle it. They know how it is to play in Boston. Trust me, playing in Boston is not for every type of player. I played there for so long, it’s a distraction for a lot of players. They don’t know how to handle it.”
During Ortiz’s time with the Red Sox, he saw players like Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandovoal sign for big contracts to come to Boston and fail to live up to expectations. Though John Lackey and David Price won World Series titles with Boston, he saw those two pitchers get worn down by the constant scrutiny that comes with playing for the Red Sox.
As Ortiz knows full well, it’s not for everyone.
“I played with a lot of superstars and they’ve been great somewhere else and when they got to Boston, they struggled because they couldn’t put up with what is going on out there,” said Ortiz. “These two guys, they grew up there. You know what to expect from them. You know what they’re going to give you.
“That’s why sometimes I don’t understand why organizations sometimes walk away from that. They prefer to explore other options. I would go with what I know. I’d keep it simple.”
Whether he is in a seat at Fenway Park or watching the game on television, Ortiz knows the two players he wants to see at the plate in the biggest moments.
“As a fan, and that’s who I am right now, I don’t play the game anymore, but I know what to expect from those guys,” Ortiz said. “I know exactly what I’m going to get from the two of them. They are the best players that can represent the Red Sox better than anyone else as of right now. We need to lock them in.”
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has been on record multiple times saying he would like to keep both players for the long term.
Though Bogaerts has three years left on his deal, big contracts signed recently by star shortstops could compel him to exercise his opt-out and test the market.
In recent weeks, Bogaerts has declined comment about his contract situation.
On the eve of Opening Day, he confirmed a report that contract negotiations late in Spring Training stalled.
“It just didn’t work out, and that’s behind us now. I can’t really think about that right now,” said Bogaerts. “It is what it is, and [I] really do have a season to prepare for -- going out there with the guys and leading us to a really good season.”
As for Devers, he plays with the pure joy that Ortiz was known for. Much like Big Papi, Devers loves the atmosphere that comes with playing in Boston.
Last week, he was asked how much he would love to stay beyond his current contract.
“That’s not entirely up to me but I don’t know any other team. I love this city, I love my teammates, I love the coaches,” Devers said. “I don’t know any other team, so of course I would love to be here but at the and end of the day, it’s not in my hands.”