FOX Sports MLB Analyst
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of players sign “statue contracts,” as one of the future recipients of that pact, Fernando Tatís Jr., called it. The phrase doesn’t have a precise definition, but it could plausibly cover contracts that last at least a decade and pay at least $200 million.
Tatís, then 22, signed with San Diego in February 2021 for 14 years and $340 million. At 21, Julio Rodriguez signed with Seattle last summer for at least 12 years and at least $210 million.
In the summer of 2020, soon-to-be 28-year-old Mookie Betts signed a 12-year, $365 million extension with the Dodgers. Last month, Trea Turner, 29, signed with Philadelphia for 11 years and $300 million, and Xander Bogaerts, 30, signed with San Diego for 11 years and $280 million. Carlos Correa, 28, also took two statue contracts earlier this winter, but neither worked out. later on
The last entry in this club is Rafael Devers. The 26-year-old third baseman’s recent extension with Boston is worth 11 years and $331 million. Devers doesn’t fit neatly into either group of players who have recently signed deals like his. He is not as young as Tatís or Rodríguez, nor as old as Turner or Bogaerts. But considering his entire profile, I’d say he fits more into the first category than the second.
Players can be grouped by potential. Evaluators overwhelmingly agree that at this point in his career, Bogaerts is who he is. It is not reasonable to expect it to improve. Evaluators also agree that the Rodriguez who dominated at times in 2022 is not his ultimate form. The Mariners made him an offer based on that premise.
The Red Sox are betting, a year before he would have entered free agency, that Devers is still getting better. This is an obvious element of the Mariners’ deal with Rodriguez and, to a lesser extent, of the Padres’ deal with Tatís. The Dodgers, Phillies and Red Sox cannot reasonably expect the same with Betts, Turner and Bogaerts, respectively.
If Devers takes more steps forward, it will dramatically increase the chances of the Red Sox settling on the contract. If he doesn’t, he’ll need to stay very healthy to give him a chance to be favorable to the team.
Note that in Devers’ best season in 2019, he was worth about 5.4 WAR. Remember, the Red Sox opted not to extend Betts three years ago, also a year ahead of his free agency. Betts’ best season then had been almost twice as valuable as Devers’. For his career to that point, Betts had been worth 7.3 WAR per 650 plate appearances; Devers has been worth 3.3 WAR by that same measure.
Betts’ deal is similar to Devers’, and both include deferred money. Picking Devers over Betts (and, to a lesser extent, Bogaerts), as this Red Sox regime did, will only make sense if Devers goes from star to superstar.
All is not lost for Correa with the Twins deal
The star shortstop settled for a six-year deal with Minnesota on Tuesday worth nearly 43 percent less guaranteed money than the deal he agreed to with San Francisco nearly a month ago. This saga, of course, won’t go away even if Correa overcomes his Gemini physique.
That very word — “physics” — will be connected to Correa forever more. So it’s worth pondering a little more, even though it’s so cool, who all wins and loses here. Correa clearly lost $150 million in guaranteed money. But, with Minnesota, he will get to play his preferred position of shortstop. That was not the case in New York, where Francisco Lindor is rooted.
And if he plays out like he expects, he’ll make $270 million over 10 years. That’s not $350 million or $315 million, or even the $285 million the Twins were offering before this all started. But it’s still possible for Correa to win at least the last two bids. Justin Turner, who is the same age as Correa in another decade, just signed for $21.7 million guaranteed. It’s conceivable that a 38-year-old Correa could be worth more in 2032.
Obviously, though, the doctors employed by the Giants and Mets don’t think it’s particularly likely.
Another low-key winner: the Mets and owner Steve Cohen. No, they didn’t get the star they were looking for. But they sold a lot of tickets, worth more than a million dollars the day the news broke, according to the New York Post. Cohen’s commitment to winning became even more apparent to fans, and perhaps as a result, Mets fans don’t seem as upset as, say, Giants fans.
One last thought: Imagine what would have happened if Correa had signed with the Twins a month ago. Could Minnesota have survived the fan outcry if he pulled out of the deal because of problems discovered in his physical immediately after successfully employing him? All of this could have been avoided.
Executives and their favorite players
It can be fun when the world unfolds predictably. Within baseball, a common example is general managers acquiring players they acquired during previous stints.
When Andrew Friedman took over the Dodgers eight years ago, his first trade was with his former team, the Rays. Since Chaim Bloom took over the Red Sox three years ago, he has acquired several players that he helped bring to the Rays. And Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has reacquired a number of players he was responsible for bringing to Arizona and Anaheim, his two previous homes.
With his latest example, Dipoto didn’t even bother to hide his interest. Seattle recently signed outfielder AJ Pollock, whom Dipoto drafted as the Diamondbacks’ scouting director about 13 years ago. Dipoto was gone to the Angels when Pollock debuted, but he will finally see him play for their team in 2023.
Four years ago, Dipoto noted that on draft day he was convinced Pollock was sleeping.
“We thought you’d look at his career in the rear-view mirror after he’s spent 10 years in the major leagues and say, ‘Wow, that guy was really good,”’ he said at the time. “That’s the way it’s turned out.”
And how’s that for a track? Then, when asked about any player who compares to Pollock’s balanced but unexceptional skill set, Dipoto named just one: Mitch Haniger, who he hired at the time.
This offseason, the Mariners lost Haniger but gained Pollock.
Pedro Moura is the national baseball writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the Dodgers for The Athletic, the Angels and Dodgers for the Orange County Register and LA Times, and his alma mater, USC, for ESPN Los Angeles. He is the author of “How to Overcome a Broken Game.” Follow him on Twitter at @pedromoura.
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