MLB Notebook: Red Sox star Rafael Devers critical of team’s off-season, multiple free-agent infielders sign contracts, and more

Photo credit:© Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Holden
1 month ago

Rafael Devers rips BoSox Front Office:

Rafael Devers is not happy with Boston Red Sox ownership. During Dever’s media availability on Tuesday, Raffy tore into Boston’s front office for the lack of additions this offseason.
They need to make an adjustment to help us players to be in a better position to win,he said.
The $313.5 million man feels the lack of movement during the offseason, and even at last year’s trade deadline, signifies the organization’s focus on the future. However, that is not the direction Devers feels the organization should head right now. 
I felt like [at the deadline] they were thinking in the future, and when those opportunities come along, we need to be more aggressive and try to embrace those opportunities.”
When asked about the moves the Sox need to make, Devers asserted that the front office knows what they need to do. 
Everybody knows what we need, you know what we need. They know what we need. It’s just some things that I can’t say out loud.”
But Devers isn’t the only BoSox player upset with the lack of improvements. Shutdown Closer Kenley Jansen didn’t hold back on management’s unwillingness to spend money. 
I definitely feel frustrated,” Jansen added. 
Kenley signed a two-year deal with the BoSox in 2022, but the former World Series Champ feels like some promises have not been kept. 
I came here for two years where Year 1, we were going to compete, but by Year 2, they were really going to go after it.”
Oh, and by the way, Kenley is now in the middle of trade rumours since the comments.
This is an issue that has to be quite prevalent in the clubhouse that has now become public. And if it wasn’t already, it certainly is now. When your two loudest voices in the room are vocally against ownership’s decisions, and the whispers become screams, the unease among the players is widespread. That is not just cooked out of nowhere.
It’s not like the market is exactly dry right now; two-time Cy Young Award winner, Blake Snell is still on the market, former MVP and Rookie of the Year, Cody Bellinger is still out there, World Series Champion Jordan Montgomery still does not have a team, there is a lot of juice still waiting to sign a new contract. 
Rafael Devers said that he has had conversations with ownership and was told that the ‘weaknesses‘ will be addressed. But when will they be addressed?
Since November, the Red Sox have added hot and cold Outfielder Tyler O’Neill, Lucas Giolito who failed to establish himself on three different clubs in 2023, and a guy who could miss the entire 2024 season in Liam Hendriks. The best acquisition by the Sox this offseason is a middle infielder who has played 64 Major League games in Vaughn Grissom. Grissom is a fantastic talent and given more at-bats, will likely become a very good ballplayer. But, just as Devers indicated, Grissom is a move for the future. Not to mention, Boston acquired Grissom for Chris Sale, the only remaining player from the 2018 World Series team outside of Rafael Devers. 
Devers massive contract means he will likely be a Red Sock for life, Kenley Jansen turns 37 in September, it makes sense why these two leaders want the Sox to make the moves to win now, especially in a very competitive division. The Yankees added Juan Soto, the Orioles are one of the best young teams in the league, the Jays have one of the best rotations in the MLB, and despite being active in the winter, the Rays have kept their core relatively untouched, (outside of the whole Dodgers and Glasnow thing).
Despite the Red Sox’s desire to downplay the reluctance to spend money, the players have put pressure on the Front Office, and it’s time for them to respond. 

The market for infielders is moving:

This week saw a flurry of activity from infielders, as Tim Anderson, Gio Urshela, and Amed Rosario all signed contracts with new teams. 
Tim Anderson has signed a one-year $5 million deal with the Miami Marlins, Urshela signed a one-year $1.5 million deal with the Tigers, and Rosario signed the same deal with the Rays. Plus, the Kolton Wong market has begun to heat up since the signings.
But with these signings, a pattern became apparent… Isiah Kiner-Falefa is making WAY more money than these guys. Why? 
The Toronto Blue Jays signed Isiah Kiner-Falefa to a two-year $15 million deal back in December, jumping the market on all these infielders. IKF was the Jays’ first ‘major’ signing of the offseason after missing out on the biggest fish of them all, Shohei Ohtani. They’re getting their guy before anyone else can snatch him up, and with that type of contract, I don’t blame IFK for signing early. 
But, early isn’t exactly a descriptor that is normally used for December signings. However, this offseason, with the number of players who are still available on the market, the flurry of signings this week, and the moves that will be made pending Spring Training injuries like Kodai Senga and the Orioles rotation, the IKF signing was early.
Tim Anderson is a two-time All-Star, as recent as 2022, won a Silver Slugger Award in 2020, and received Rookie of the Year AND MVP votes throughout his career. Did he have a down season in 2023? For sure, but below the value of Isiah Kiner-Falefa? I don’t know about that one. 
Last season Gio Urshela had a .299 batting average and has hit over .280 in four of the last five seasons; Kiner-Falefa has hit .280 once in his career. Urshela also has experience in the postseason, playing in 22 games compared to IKF’s six. Score two for Gio.
As for Amed Rosario and IKF, Rosario has hit almost triple the amount of home runs IKF has, over 130 more RBIs than Kiner-Falefa and almost double the amount of career hits. All of that production in one extra year for Rosario.
Now IKF’s value comes on the defensive side, but you know who else has a massive defensive upside? Matt Chapman. Who, last time I checked, is still available?
Chappy crushes IKF in every situation. Average exit velocity, barrel percentage, hard-hit percentage, range, arm strength, walk percentage, chase percentage, everything. Chapman has five times the amount of homers than IKF and double the amount of RBIs. Oh, and I forgot his four Gold Gloves, his MVP votes, and his All-Star appearance in 2019. 
In terms of their third-base situation, it seems like the Blue Jays were scared to lose out on Chappy and be left out in the rain on prom night. And that may cost them. The Jays prematurely splurged their money on the wrong pieces this off-season thanks to their impatience and are now caught in this “cool puzzle” that seems nearly impossible to solve. 

Quick Notes:

  • Kodai Senga is expected to start the season on the injured list. Senga has been shut down this Spring Training due to fatigue in his throwing shoulder. 
  • Mitch Keller signs an extension with the Pirates. Keller’s five-year contract is worth $77 million and extends the pitcher’s Pirates tenure through to the 2028 season.
  • Eric Hosmer announces his retirement from baseball. The former World Series Champion calls it a career after an impressive 13-year career.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu returns to his former team as he signs a deal with the Hanwha Eagles. Ryu’s new KBO contract is an eight-year year deal that is the longest and includes the most guaranteed money in league history with 17 billion won ($12.8 million).


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