Brayan Bello’s Extension Is a Sign of Good Things To Come for the Red Sox

Boston Red Sox fans got some good news when Brayan Bello, long hailed as the savior of the rotation, agreed to a six-year contract extension.

Brayan Bello of the Boston Red Sox pitches during live batting practice during a spring training team workout on February 15, 2024 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South.
FT. MYERS, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 15: Brayan Bello #66 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during live batting practice during a spring training team workout on February 15, 2024 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

For what feels like the first time in years, Boston Red Sox fans got some good news, when Brayan Bello, the man long heralded as the savior of the rotation, agreed to a six-year, $55 million contract extension. It’s time to see what that means for the future of the organization.

For the past couple of seasons, a core of young, talented prospects has been forming in the Red Sox minor league system. It’s a core that many fans believe will usher in the team’s next championship window. Last year, the first two members of that group, Brayan Bello and Triston Casas, impressed during their first tastes of extended big league action.

The Bello extension is a win for Bello, a win for the Red Sox, and a win for the fans.

For Bello, his long-term future is secure, and he will not need to go through the arbitration process, one of the most difficult experiences for young players. For the Red Sox, the sub-$10 million AAV of the deal could prove to be a steal for the organization, as the price of top-end starting pitching grows each and every year.

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The value of a pitcher like Bello, who has the potential to be a true innings eater, cannot be overstated. As for the Red Sox fans, they now have a homegrown rotation anchor they will be able to root for for years to come.

Brayan Bello of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 11: Brayan Bello #66 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2023 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Brayan Bello’s Up-and-Down Performance in 2023

Bello got off to a scorching hot start last year and had a stretch from April 29 to July 5 in which he allowed more than two runs only once (and in that one start, he only gave up three). Over this span, he showed the potential to be a true top-end starter.

The young right-hander posted an impressive 92nd-percentile groundball rate and a 95th-percentile offspeed run value, thanks in large part to his otherworldly changeup. He avoided hard contact well, as opponents had just a 7% barrel rate against him.

Bello also limited his walks, allowing just a 6.7% walk rate. These numbers bode well for him moving forward, as he has a very sustainable style of pitching. Further, as the defense behind him improves, he will likely see his ERA drop.

Unfortunately for Bello, he slowed as the 2023 season progressed, finishing the year with a pedestrian 4.24 ERA. He struggled in his day starts, and expectations for the young right-hander began to slip. Fans went from hoping he would be the next Pedro to hoping he would be a serviceable middle-of-the-rotation arm with the potential to rise to a No. 2 starter. The prevailing belief is that if the Red Sox are going to be true contenders, Bello cannot be their ace.

That being said, Bello’s importance in Boston should not be understated. While the organization has a top-five farm system and multiple top-100 prospects, it lacks pitching depth.

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Of the team’s top 15 prospects, only three, Luis Perales, Wikelman Gonzalez, and Richard Fitts, are pitchers. Perales is only 20 and still a ways away from making his MLB debut. Gonzalez projects more as a reliever, as he has electric stuff but struggles mightily with his command. Fitts profiles as a back-end starter in a best-case scenario.

Brayan Bello and Boston’s Future Core

All of that is to say that Bello is really the only true starter who is part of this burgeoning core, making him invaluable to the organization. If the contention window opens for the Red Sox in the late 2020s, having Bello locked up as an anchor for the rotation will provide much-needed stability.

In addition, the decision to extend Bello goes a long way toward erasing the prevailing belief within the fanbase that the front office does not take care of its own homegrown talent. This was abundantly apparent with the core that won in 2018 and goes all of the way back to the club’s inability to sign Jon Lester to an extension. 

Giving Bello a long-term deal, and buying out his arbitration years in the process, suggests that there is a long-term plan in place in Boston. It is the first concrete evidence that any hope and belief that this new core will be signed to long-term deals is not misguided. If all goes well in Boston and the likes of Marcelo Mayer, Kyle Teel, Roman Anthony, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Nick Yorke continue to progress as they are projected to, the Red Sox may find themselves in a similar situation to the Braves, with multiple young stars locked up long term.

While this reality is still many years away, the Bello extension is the first step in the right direction for an organization that has been starved of positivity. The front office has shown that all of its talk about going all in on this next wave of young talent is not just lip service, and there are brighter days to come in Boston.