Casas on Boston: 'I want to be here forever'

February 18th, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As the Red Sox transition into a new era that will focus on their young core, could wind up being the centerpiece at some point soon.

And the big first baseman made it clear on Sunday morning -- the day before the team’s first full-squad workout -- that he’d love nothing more.

Would Casas, coming off a third-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year voting last season, welcome a long-term extension with the Red Sox?

“Yeah, of course. I want to be here forever,” Casas said. “So this is not a bad place to play. It's actually the best, I think. So I'd love to be here.”

Casas, who is five seasons away from free agency, indicated there were at least some initial discussions with the club about an extension.

“Of course we have,” Casas said. “Nothing enticing, though.”

What type of extension would Casas consider enticing?

“One that sets [up] me and my family for the rest of my life,” said Casas. “I don't know what that looks like. I’m low maintenance. I don't need a lot. So I’ve got a small family. I don't need much, but something that I think would suffice [for] the work that I put into it my whole my whole life would be nice.”

Whether or not there winds up being momentum with Casas regarding a new contract, he should be in the middle of Boston’s batting order for years to come, and that’s no small thing.

The enthusiasm Casas displays as he gets more experience could become infectious. Drafted out of high school in the first round of the 2018 Draft, this is already the sixth Spring Training for the 24-year-old Casas in the Boston organization.

Even the drive to Spring Training from his home in South Florida had Casas beaming as he spoke late Sunday morning.

“It's so exciting. I was just on the drive over here on Alligator Alley, and I was just thinking about how many times I've done this drive -- how many times I hope to do it again,” Casas said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I love this drive so much.’ It’s just always a good feeling to come into Fort Myers.”

A year ago, the Red Sox entrusted Casas to be their starting first baseman as a rookie. And even after he struggled mightily early on, Casas kept working and wound up as one of MLB’s most productive hitters in the second half of the season.

The one thing Casas has done his entire baseball life is smash the baseball. That doesn’t figure to stop happening any time soon.

What he looks to improve on from last season is his defense. Toward that end, Casas attended the infield camp that veteran shortstop Trevor Story held for Red Sox players and prospects. In fact, Casas said defense was at the root of most of what he did in the offseason.

“I felt like that was the biggest area that I could have improved on from last year,” said Casas. “Getting with the staff, hearing their input as to the things that they want me to work on. But I knew exactly what I needed to do when I got back home and put a lot of emphasis into that this offseason, and I really like where I'm at with my footwork. I like where I’m at with how I’m moving.”

Casas is already of value to the Red Sox for more than what he does on the field. If younger players follow his lead, they will form good habits. The club was thrilled when Casas arrived as a surprise guest at the team’s Rookie Development program over the winter.

“Since Day 1 when he got here, the structure of the things that he does -- you don't see it, but he shows up early and he's very [meticulous] on his nutrition,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He has his snack stations wherever he's going to work out that day. And he's willing to listen and then make the adjustments, and what he did in the Rookie Development Program was great for those kids. You know, there's a lot of energy, he’s a little more outspoken, we got him out of his comfort zone, which is good. I'm very excited about what the future holds for him.”

If Casas his way, that future will include staying in the same uniform for the rest of his career.