Well That's Fun: Multiple Predictions Send Rafael Devers to the Chicago Cubs Sooner or Later

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Well That’s Fun: Multiple Predictions Send Rafael Devers to the Chicago Cubs Sooner or Later

Chicago Cubs

It’s that time of year when the transactions slow, but the holidays are lingering, and the approach of Spring Training is still a minute away. It is understandable, then, that we might see some “prediction”-type content, which I think is perfectly fun to read – I feel like I’ve read ten different baseball prediction things in the last week – but I also think you have to take it in the spirit intended. It’s fun. It’s not necessarily informed by rumors.

I’m going to stick to that perspective, even as I share two different predictions from a couple writers I really like, both of whom send the same star player to the Chicago Cubs.

Recently, the CBS writing crew was asked to predict where Rafael Devers would start the 2023 season, where he would end the 2023 season, and then – after free agency – where he would begin the 2024 season. R.J. Anderson mentioned the Cubs as a future possibility, but Matt Snyder really went in for the Cubs:

I’ll go with (Devers) starting the season with the Red Sox, finishing the season with the Cubs and starting 2024 with the Cubs.

My thought process is that the Red Sox are reportedly “galaxies” away from retaining the services of Devers in an extension and it seems possible at this point he’s just ready to move on after seeing what happened with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts (and several others, to a lesser extent). I’m going to assume the Red Sox are not contenders in July of this season and that the Cubs are fighting for second place — barely above .500 or even just at .500 — with the Brewers behind the Cardinals in a lackluster NL Central. Devers’ prime fits with the Cubs’ window and a middle-order lefty who plays third base is a perfect fit. They should have the prospect package by then to pull off a deal for Devers. All that’s left is being aggressive enough with an extension offer to get a deal done before free agency, as they don’t have much money tied up in future contracts other than Dansby Swanson and Seiya Suzuki.

I think it’s all logical, even if it’s very hard to predict that (1) the Red Sox definitely won’t extend Devers this offseason, (2) the Red Sox will be bad enough to be selling at the deadline, (3) the Red Sox will trade Devers, specifically, and (4) the Cubs, specifically, will be good enough and buying enough to land Devers.

That said, I do think *IF* Devers becomes available in trade, either soon or at the deadline, you better pounce if you want him long-term. We’ve seen it too much lately: superstars get acquired and then extended. You cannot count on Devers actually reaching free agency, and as Snyder says, it’s awfully easy to see how a 27-year-old lefty slugging third baseman will be perfect for the Cubs in 2024 and beyond.

To that end, Sahadev Sharma dropped a set of his own predictions at The Athletic this morning, and it’s a good, fun read in a whole lot of ways. But given the Snyder thing, it was Sharma’s section on Devers that jumped out at me as, oh, let’s call it the most fun:

But the bet here is that Boston fails to extend Rafael Devers and Hoyer identifies him as the missing piece to an emerging team. Obviously the preference for Hoyer would be to just pay for Devers in free agency, but if he becomes available at the deadline, he has to consider being aggressive there as well. Devers would be the middle-of-the-order bat this team so desperately needs and plays third base, an obvious area of need. Will his defense hold up over whatever the lifetime of his contract will be? Who cares! The kid can rake. He’ll be 27 and seems to be hitting his stride offensively as an impact bat.

Like Snyder – and as I would argue, too! – the Cubs seemingly have the right player timing AND financial timing to be able to invest heavily in Devers as soon as possible.

Of course, a lot can change between now and then. It’s not just about the trade possibilities, but also about performance. What happens if Devers, who hit .287/.355/.530/137 wRC+ the last two seasons and was worth a combined 9.1 WAR, falls off a cliff this year for some reason? Or suffers a serious injury? Or what if the Cubs’ internal evaluation of Devers – his aging curve, his defense, his ability to hit breaking stuff, whatever – is nowhere close to how we outsiders evaluate him?

That is to say, I don’t want to get TOO hung up on it being Devers-or-bust for the Cubs to land a superstar-type player in the years ahead. I’ll hope that there will be a number of opportunities.

But as we sit here today, knowing about the possibility of Rafael Devers becoming available, and taking an eyeball to the Cubs’ roster, farm system, and financial situation, these are some sensible predictions. Which is, I think, saying a lot when you’re talking about a star player who is going to soon command perhaps a $300+ million contract.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.