Fresh off a last-place finish in the American League East, the Boston Red Sox are facing a pivotal offseason. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez is a free agent; shortstop Xander Bogaerts can become one if he opts out of his contract; and third baseman Rafael Devers is 12 months away from dipping his toes into the waters. It's unclear if Martinez has a future in Boston, but Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said last week that he intends to keep Bogaerts and Devers in the fold heading forward.
Whether or not the Red Sox can successfully re-sign Bogaerts (or extend Devers) is to be seen. One prominent figure in franchise history, right-hander Pedro Martinez, recently cautioned that losing players like Bogaerts, Devers, and even the aforementioned J.D. Martinez (of no relation) could damage the "essence of the franchise." Here's what he told Alex Speier of the Boston Globe:
"If Xander opts out and leaves the team and J.D. [Martinez] leaves the team, I think [Rafael] Devers is most likely going to head the same way. Those guys are going to go. They're not going to have the essence of the franchise that we left. The culture that we left is going to be lost. And we don't know when we're going to get it back and how we're going to get it back."
Martinez's point, as expanded upon by Speier, is that Bogaerts and Devers were around and learned from David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, who, in turn, learned from Martinez and Jason Varitek, and so on. There's a connective tissue that stretches back through several World Series title wins. Were Bogaerts and Devers to leave, they'd take that institutional knowledge with them instead of passing it to the next core.
Of course, your mileage may vary on how much that kind of stuff is worth. The Red Sox, like any other organization, have to make their decisions based on expected production, opportunity cost, team need, etc. etc. etc.; they can't keep players just because of who their teammates and mentors were when they were young.
In that respect, the most convincing argument for re-signing Bogaerts and extending Devers is that they're two high-quality players; the fact that they could pass on advice and knowledge from Boston's past to members of Boston's future is just a nice bonus.