The Red Sox avoided arbitration with third baseman Rafael Devers by agreeing to a one-year deal with the lefty slugger on Friday.
The contract is worth $4.575 million, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, a substantial bump from the $692,500 salary Devers played for last season. Boston has not confirmed the value of the deal.
This was the first year of arbitration eligibility for Devers, who slashed .263/.310/.483 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs in the shortened 2020 season. The Red Sox look for Devers to get back to the elite hitter he was in ’19, when he had hit .311/.361/.555 with 54 doubles, 32 homers and 115 RBIs.
With a one-year deal in place, the Red Sox and Devers could still negotiate an extension at some point, perhaps during Spring Training, after Chaim Bloom and his staff get through all of their pressing Hot Stove business. The good news for the Red Sox is that the 24-year-old is under club control through the ’23 season.
The top goal for Devers in 2021 will be to regain the consistency on defense that he displayed throughout the second half of ’19. In ’20, Devers struggled mightily in the field, making 14 errors in 128 total chances.
The return of manager Alex Cora figures to help Devers more than anyone else. Devers looks at Cora like a father figure who knows how to push the right buttons to get Devers to be the best version of himself.
By striking a deal with Devers before Friday's deadline to exchange either reach an agreement or exchange salary figures, the Red Sox will avoid the arbitration process altogether for ’21.
In December, the Sox reached one-year deals with Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Kevin Plawecki and Austin Brice. All of those players would have been eligible for arbitration.