Is re-signing Rafael Devers priority No. 1 for the Red Sox?
I believe signing Devers to an extension is at or near the top of things that the Red Sox would like to do before the 2022 season starts. Devers is a 25-year-old hitting star who plays with joy and passion. Of course, Boston fans would love to watch him up close for the next many years.
By all accounts, Devers loves playing for the Red Sox and his close relationships with manager Alex Cora and shortstop Xander Bogaerts are well-chronicled. Devers has two seasons left before he is eligible for free agency but I think both sides would love to avoid him getting to the open market. The Red Sox and Devers seem like a natural fit both currently and for the future.
What are the chances of signing Bogaerts to a big contract after next season?
This much we know: Bogaerts loves playing in Boston. He demonstrated that with his last contract, which was club-friendly and signed a year before he could have been a free agent. However, Bogaerts has also taken his game to another level since inking that deal -- which contains an opt-out clause following the ’22 season.
It seems inevitable Bogaerts will opt out next November if he doesn’t sign an extension before then. It makes sense that Bogaerts will want to be paid on par with some of the other star shortstops who have recently signed. If the Red Sox make him a competitive offer, I think he would love to stay, particularly if the team inks Devers to a long-term extension.
What kind of innings count will Chris Sale have next year considering he pitched about three months this past season?
Including Minor League rehab appearances, regular-season outings and postseason starts, Sale pitched 71 2/3 innings in 2021. I think 150 innings would be a great mark for Sale to get to in ’22. The Red Sox’s training staff will keep close tabs on him like they do with all their pitchers. Depending on how he progresses, Sale could go a little bit above that mark. Sale’s first full season back from Tommy John surgery will be a huge story to follow with the Red Sox.
When will James Paxton be healthy and ready to rejoin the rotation?
The Red Sox are well-versed in Tommy John rehab after going through this with Sale last season. A return at some point around the All-Star break would seem to be an ideal scenario for Paxton, who underwent surgery in late April. Sale, who had some hiccups along the way, including COVID-19 and a neck injury, pitched for the Red Sox 16 months after Tommy John surgery. Some pitchers come back a little quicker than that. Some can take longer.
Potential targets for free agency?
Kyle Schwarber remains a target for the Red Sox, considering how seamlessly he fit in with the club after the July trade from the Nationals. However, with the universal DH expected to go into effect for ’22, Schwarber is generating interest from a number of clubs. Though the Red Sox have their No. 2 prospect as rated by MLB Pipeline waiting in the wings at first base in Triston Casas, Schwarber could fit in long-term with Boston as a DH if J.D. Martinez leaves as a free agent following the ’22 season.
If the Red Sox do not re-sign Schwarber, do you see them making a run at Anthony Rizzo?
Given that Casas doesn’t appear all that far from being ready for the Major Leagues, Rizzo wouldn’t make much sense for the Red Sox on anything but a short-term deal. I would characterize Rizzo’s return to Boston -- the team that drafted and developed him -- as unlikely.