With all the talk about Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, the bigger question is: Are the Red Sox still one of baseball’s major players?


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Mookie Betts had one at-bat in the All-Star Game. But he was the center of attention for three days with how ably and confidently he represented his sport on a big stage.

Watching Betts address the crowd at Dodger Stadium and get a standing ovation was a reminder the Sox got back only a league-average outfielder and two fringy utility players for him. Beyond the loss of talent on the field, they gave up a player who would have been Boston’s next big athletic personality, somebody whose words and actions would resonate across the usual lines.

To hear Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts talk, Betts doesn’t just play for them. He’s their partner in taking the franchise to higher ground.

How were the Red Sox unable to forge a relationship like that with Betts?

In Cooperstown, it was striking to see the roads of the town loaded with people of all ages, races and ethnicities wearing T-shirts, jerseys, and caps celebrating David Ortiz.

Ortiz last played in 2016, but he’s still the player people most identify as representing the Red Sox. Who’s next?

Or maybe this is a better question: Will anybody be next?

Last Saturday night, at a party the Red Sox held in honor of Ortiz in Cooperstown, a number of former Sox stars gathered to honor their teammate and sat around talking about the old times.

Will Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts retire as Sox legends like David Ortiz (left), or find themselves shipped out of town like Mookie Betts?Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Without betraying any confidences, they also wondered aloud whether the Sox would retain Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers or if the two current stars would eventually go the way of Betts and land with a team that better appreciates their value.

In early April, the Yankees opened their negotiations with Aaron Judge with an offer of seven years and $213.5 million.

The Red Sox, at around the same time, offered Bogaerts a one-year extension worth $30 million on top of the four years and $80 million he had remaining on his deal.

That would leave him with an average annual value of $22 million over five years, well below the market value for comparable shortstops.

Judge is 30 and, at the time, was a three-time All-Star who had given the Yankees 26.6 WAR the previous five seasons. Bogaerts is 29 and, at the time, was a three-time All-Star who had given the Red Sox 19.9 WAR the previous five seasons.

Judge declined the offer without rancor and the sides remain on good terms. Bogaerts was clearly annoyed.

Judge and Bogaerts are much different players on the field but similar in terms of how they’re personally regarded by their managers, their teammates, and the fans.

Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman approached Judge with the respect he has earned. The Red Sox did not act accordingly with Bogaerts.

Bogaerts is the last player remaining from the 2013 championship team and one of only eight still in the organization continuously from the 2018 title team. By November, that number could well be reduced to two or three.

The message to high-ceiling prospects such as Triston Casas and Marcelo Mayer is not to get comfortable in Boston.

The Yankees, Dodgers, and Mets clearly believe their markets require high-profile players. Do the Sox? Are they still one of the big players in baseball or now in the second tier?

It isn’t clear, which is the problem.

“We need to have really good players. If you look at every team that wins, they’ve got a lot of really good players,” said Chaim Bloom, the Sox’ president of baseball operations. “In a place like [Boston], where everybody cares about the team so much, those players are going to have a bigger profile than they would somewhere else. But it comes back to talent.”

Chaim Bloom has plenty to think about in the coming days.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Rays, Bloom’s former employer, have succeeded without high-profile players. Isn’t Boston different?

“It’s very different from Tampa Bay, sure,” Bloom said after a pause. “Over time here, there have been a lot of really good players, some of them have stayed here their whole career, some of them haven’t. The constant has been winning.

“And this organization has won more than anybody else in the last couple of decades, won the thing that counts most to win more than anybody else. And I think you always want consistency. You always want to keep your star players. I think everybody wants that. But there have been times here where it hasn’t happened, too, and the organization has won. I’d love to do it with as much consistency as we can.”

That suggests the Sox aren’t necessarily committed to retaining Bogaerts and Devers. That’s a risky strategy as their profile drops.

There were 20 media people from the Boston area in Cooperstown to cover the Hall of Fame induction. When the Sox played the Yankees in New York from July 15-17 there were four representing two outlets.

Four. For a Yankees series.

The media business has changed and, across baseball, there are fewer outlets sending reporters on the road with teams. No reporters from Ohio were at Fenway Park last week when the Guardians played four games.

But when the Patriots have preseason practice sessions in Las Vegas next month, a swarm of media will follow them. For practices.

The NFL is a monster baseball will never slay; that fight is lost. But when only two outlets decide a Yankees series in July is worth covering in person, that’s a problem the Sox need to fix.


For Jim Kaat, facing Ted Williams was a thrill

Jim Kaat regaled Cooperstown with stories of Ted Williams during Hall of Fame weekend.Jim McIsaac/Getty

Hearing Jim Kaat telling stories about facing Ted Williams in 1959 and ′60 was one of the highlights of last weekend at the Hall of Fame.

An aging Williams was 2 for 3 against the youthful Kaat. Their first matchup was at Fenway Park on Sept. 27, 1959. It was Kaat’s third major league game. He was 20 and Williams was 41.

Kaat remembers Williams playing pepper before the game with team owner Tom Yawkey and clubhouse manager Johnny Orlando.

“Then I had to face Williams,” Kaat said. “Well, he rips one off the Monster off me.”

Ted was 2 for 2 off the Washington Senators rookie that day. But Kaat got him on a fly ball the following season at Griffith Stadium in Washington when Williams pinch hit in the eighth inning.

They ran into each other years later at a golf course in Florida. Kaat walked over to introduce himself and Williams said, “Don’t give me that ‘Mr. Williams.’ I know who you are, trying to throw me that overhand curve.”

A few other notes from the Hall:

▪ Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar came to the aid of new Hall of Famer Tony Oliva this month. Her office helped the Twins in getting Oliva’s brother, Juan Carlos, a visa so he could leave Cuba and attend the induction ceremony.

Oliva, 84, has lived in Bloomington, Minn., going back to his career with the Twins.

Mariano Rivera stopped by the party the Red Sox threw for David Ortiz last Saturday night. They shared the same agent, Fern Cuza. Red Sox and Yankees fans would have been aghast to see Rivera having a good time with Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and other former Sox players.

▪ Hall of Famer Mike Mussina on Ortiz: “A great hitter but he didn’t hit me until he got to Boston.” Moose has a good memory. Ortiz was 0 for 17 with 12 strikeouts against Mussina as a Twin. Then he was 15 of 45 with three homers with the Red Sox.

Jack McKeon, 91, was in Cooperstown. He managed a 19-year-old Kaat in 1959 for the Class C Missoula (Mont.) Timberjacks. McKeon was a 27-year-old player-manager at the time.

McKeon then managed Oliva in 1963 with the Triple A Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers.

Kaat credited McKeon with instilling confidence in him. He pitched 223 innings that season. McKeon had a seat in the crowd for the induction and stood and waved at Kaat’s behest.


Kutter Crawford shines during slump

Kutter Crawford has been a rare bright spot for the struggling Red Sox.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

In what has been a terrible month for the Sox, rookie righthander Kutter Crawford had a 2.57 ERA over five appearances (four starts) and 28 innings. He walked four and struck out 26.

Crawford’s willingness to throw strikes is impressive.

“He competes, which is great,” manager Alex Cora said. “Like [Chris Sale], he has that mentality. It’s good stuff in the zone.”

Like Sale, Crawford also attended Florida Gulf Coast University.

His rise started last winter. Crawford started five games for Estrellas in the Dominican League, allowing one earned run over 21⅓ innings.

“For him to go down there and work and pitch, it means, ‘I want to get better.’ He went to a league that’s pretty tough,” Cora said. “A foreign country and you don’t know Spanish. You’ve got to survive and grind. Kind of like, old-school stuff.”

A few other observations on the Red Sox:

Andrew Benintendi was worth 4.9 WAR to the Royals before he was traded to the Yankees. So far, the players the Red Sox received back for Benintendi have been worth minus-1.2 WAR.

Maybe that will change over time if Josh Winckowski develops into a useful piece. But for now that was a bad deal.

▪ The Red Sox went into the weekend with 21 home runs from their outfielders, the fourth fewest in the majors.

Kyle Schwarber (32), Aaron Judge (31), Mike Trout (24), and Mookie Betts (23) all had more in their at-bats as outfielders.

▪ The Sox have taken an extra base — meaning more than one base on a single or more than two bases on a double — 37 percent of the time this season. Only the Astros and Mariners have a lower percentage.

▪ Sale purchased 100 Bose QC-45 headphones and had 50 delivered to the clubhouses at Triple A Worcester and Double A Portland in appreciation for how he was treated by the players and staff during his rehab assignment.

Those retail for $279 each. Sale can afford it, obviously. But the standard “thank you” from an established big leaguer in the minors is catering a nice dinner one night, not high-end electronics.

Sale drew headlines for kicking an already-broken television in Worcester when he was frustrated by how he pitched. But gestures like this will be what the minor leaguers remember.

▪ MLB has plans to play regular-season games in London, Mexico City, Paris, San Juan, and either Tokyo or Seoul over the next four years. The Red Sox will surely be one of the teams hitting the road. Cora’s choice is anywhere but Puerto Rico.

“I know at one point somebody has to go to Puerto Rico and play. No,” Cora said with a laugh. “Please, let’s not do it . . . Tickets, the [batting practice] passes, the jerseys. Oh my God.”


International market remains open

International players don’t look like they’ll be draft-eligible in the near future.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Another chapter was added to the ongoing dissension between MLB and the Players Association last week when the sides failed to come to an agreement on an international draft.

The union rejected MLB’s proposal for a 20-round draft in 2024 with $190-$200 million in bonuses paid. Each pick would have been assigned a set value. Teams spent $166 million on bonuses in 2021 in the open market.

The league also offered to drop the qualifying-offer system for free agents as an enticement. That wouldn’t have been much of a sacrifice, however. The QO hasn’t dampened free agent spending to the degree owners hoped.

The players were seeking a $240 million pool without hard slots, which was a nonstarter.

The issue was tabled in April rather than further holding up the start of the season. Now the only winners are the corrupt actors who take advantage of the lack of guardrails.

Independent trainers pluck kids as young as 11 or 12 from their homes then auction them off to the highest bidder when they turn 16. PED use is commonplace.

MLB scouts have been known to demand kickbacks from a player or cut unenforceable deals when they are younger than 16. Others work both ends, discovering players for teams and getting paid from both sides.

The concern among many MLB executives is that a draft would reward teams who don’t work as hard as others to scout Latin America and Asia. But most acknowledge a better system is needed to protect the players.

The Rays lead the majors with 48 outs on the bases, 21 by Yandy Díaz (11) and Randy Arozarena (10) alone. Meanwhile 54 of Tampa Bay’s first 99 games were decided by one or two runs. The Rays were 27-27 in those games and the bad base-running was a factor . . . After avoiding social media for years, it’s odd to see Derek Jeter using Instagram and Twitter to burnish his image by commenting on episodes of the documentary his agent and media company produced. “The Captain” is a slick product, but hasn’t produced any of the must-see raw moments “The Last Dance” delivered in its look at Michael Jordan . . . Joe Maddon is not a vindictive sort. But he must be at least a little amused that the Angels were two games under .500 when he was fired and were 13 under through 43 games under Phil Nevin. Shohei Ohtani twice used the phrase “right now” to define his status as an Angel after pitching well and losing Thursday night. Ohtani, who can become a free agent after next season, has said playing in the World Series is his priority. The Angels have to show him that’s possible and they’re not doing a very good job of it . . . Congratulations to Newton’s own Suzyn Waldman, who was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame. The pioneering broadcaster has covered the Yankees for 36 seasons, the last 18 as a color commentator on the radio . . . Looking for a summer read? Try “The Kid Blasts A Winner” by Bill Nowlin. The new book details the 110 game-winning home runs hit by Ted Williams. Nowlin defines “game-winning” as providing the final margin for victory. It’s a good vehicle to examine another facet of Williams’s remarkable career . . . Happy birthday to Gabe Kapler, who is 47. The former Red Sox outfielder is in his fifth season as a manager and has the Giants in the mix for a playoff spot. There’s no definitive proof, but Kapler surely has the most tattoos of any manager in history. Scott Bankhead is 59. He had a 3.88 ERA in 67 relief appearances for the Sox from 1993-94.

Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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