Rafael Devers will reach free agency after the 2023 season and history is any indication, he won’t re-sign with the Red Sox. Nick Wass/Associated Press

Eduardo Rodriguez’s comments on Monday aligned with the words Mookie Betts once spoke and many Red Sox players before them never said, but surely wanted to.

It boils down to this: the Red Sox didn’t want to pay them a fair market wage, so they took their services elsewhere.

It’s as simple as that, and the story will likely continue as Xander Bogaerts is expected to opt out of his contract after 2022 and Rafael Devers is set to reach free agency after 2023.

“What would you rather have, 77 or 18?” Rodriguez asked a reporter who wondered if he’d considered Boston’s $18.4 million qualifying offer before taking the Tigers’ $77-million offer. “Just being honest.”

Surely, Devers is listening. And after the Rays signed 20-year-old wonderkid Wander Franco to an 11-year, $182-million extension despite having just a half-season in the big leagues, Devers has to be wondering if he’ll ever make the money he’s worth in Boston or if he, too, will hit the road.

During his time in Boston, Betts made it clear he wasn’t going to sign for anything less than what he was worth.

Jon Lester didn’t want to stay in Boston for a fraction of his value, either.

The list goes on, as players who were once beloved Red Sox icons choose to pursue their actual worth instead of signing at a hometown discount.

Under the current ownership group, signing players at a hometown discount is just about the only extensions that get signed. It’s a topic that comes up often, especially as the team continues to develop star players but fails to lock them up.

That Bogaerts is still in a Red Sox uniform is a testament to his own desire to play here, even at a discount. He signed an extension for $20 million a year when he was clearly worth more, as we’ll soon see when similar players, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, likely score $300-million deals in free agency this winter.

Bogaerts can’t cry poor with his $120 million extension, and he can, and likely will, opt out of the final three years after 2022 to get a bigger contract going forward. But the fact remains: He left a lot of money on the table to stay in Boston.

The story goes back to Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, too.

Pedroia never made more than $16 million in a season and averaged about $13 million per year to stay in Boston his whole career, despite his contemporary, Robinson Cano, turning down a chance to stay with the Yankees and instead signing with the Mariners to make $24 million a year through 2023.

And Ortiz, one of the greatest hitters of his generation, continued to sign short-term deals to stay in Boston until he retired. In 2018, two years after Ortiz made $16 million, his highest career salary, while leading the majors with a 1.021 OPS on his way to retirement, the Red Sox signed a similar replacement, J.D. Martinez, and paid him $24 million a year.

The Sox have given out fair market contracts before, but rarely with their own guys. They signed big deals with Manny Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, David Price and Martinez, among others who established themselves with other franchises first.

How does this happen? Why is it that one of the richest franchises in professional sports has a history of forcing its best developed players to sign at a discount or hit the road?

It’s just business, as Betts always said. No hard feelings.

And that’s why nobody should fault Devers if he stands his ground and refuses to sign a bargain deal.

He’s one of just 14 players this millennium to hit 100 homers with an OPS-plus of at least 120 before his age 25 season. The list is impressive: Devers, Ronaldo Acuna Jr., Cody Bellinger, Correa, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, Eric Chavez, Troy Glaus and Alex Rodriguez.

Harper and Trout are on Hall of Fame tracks. Cabrera and Pujols are first-ballot Hall of Famers. Rodriguez would be if not for admitted steroid use. Stanton, Fielder, Glaus and Chavez aren’t Hall of Famers but are in that next level of very good players. Dunn is the lone good-not-great player in the group.

If the Red Sox want to retain a player on a list this accomplished, they’re going to have to pay. And recent history under this ownership group indicates that isn’t likely to happen.

It’s not that the Sox are cheap. Until 2021, they had a payroll that ranked amongst the six highest in MLB every year. Their $180-million opening day payroll in 2021 ranked eighth.

But under Chaim Bloom, who learned the ropes in the Rays front office, the Sox have often been compared to their rivals from Tampa.

If the Sox really are using the Rays as a model, then they’re more likely to sign Triston Casas than Devers to a long-term contract.

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