It was seven years ago today, that the Red Sox and former GM, Theo Epstein announced the contract extension of Adrian Gonzalez to a seven-year $154 million deal.
Sadly, for the Red Sox and Gonzalez, he was part of the purging of 2012 that saw himself, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto sent to the LA Dodgers.
Now let’s take a prospective look at a few Red Sox players that should be locked up to extensions.
Mookie Betts / Age: 25
Mookie broke into Boston in 2015 and quickly made an impact on both sides of the ball. He solidified his defensive dominance, winning back-to-back Gold Gloves. On offense, Betts became the first Red Sox player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in 2016, finishing runner-up to Mike Trout in the 2016 MVP voting.
Mookie is currently in arbitration for the first time and should see a raise over his prior $950K / 1 year deal that he agreed to last season. Betts has stated in the past that he’s okay with going year-to-year on contracts, but a long-term deal of five years and around $100-125 might make some sense.
The Red Sox would be wise to get Betts locked up while his price tag is reasonably lower.
Chris Sale / Age: 28
In his first season in Boston, Sale went 17 – 7, with 308 strikeouts and finished second in the AL Cy Young voting.
He is under contract for the 2018 season at $12.5 million and the team has an option for the 2019 season at $15 million before he can reach Free Agency in 2020.
Sale is the type of front-line starter that is so crucial to a teams success and deserves to be paid as such. If David Price chooses to opt out after this coming season from his 7 years / $217 million deal, some of that money could be earmarked to sign Sale.
The Red Sox would be wise to sign Sale to at least a 4 year / $100 million extension.
Craig Kimbrel / Age: 29
After struggling in 2016, Kimbrel was able to bounce back this past season and put up video game-like numbers as the closer – saving 35 games and posting 126 K’s in only 69 innings.
Kimbrel’s current contract, which he signed as a member of the Atlanta Braves, runs out at the end of this coming season. He is due to make $13 million this season before reaching free agency.
If the Sox have learned anything since Jonathan Papelbon left via Free Agency, a successful team needs to have a successful closer.
The Red Sox would be wise to sign Kimbrel to a 3 – 4 year extension around $95 million.
Xander Bogaerts / Age: 25
Like Mookie, Xander is also 25 years old and has had a relatively successful start to his career. His steady defense has brought a sense of security to his shortstop position. Offensively, he needs to be consistent and has struggled with his power numbers.
Xander is due to become a free agent after the 2020 season, and since there are no current alternatives in the Minor Leagues, it might make sense to look at potentially a 3-year extension / $80 million deal that would buy out his remaining arbitration years.
Jackey Bradley Jr / Age: 27
JBJ is one of the best center fielders in the entire game, but it’s his offense that makes it hard to really commit the years and money to him.
The future Gold Glove winner will not reach Free Agency until 2021, but when at the age of 31, it would be wise to spend elsewhere.
Andrew Benintendi / Rafael Devers
Both young stars have flashed the potential of having great careers, but it’s still too early to really determine how many years and how much money should they deserve.