With trade rumors surrounding nearly every Red Sox player, Xander Bogaerts is not being talked about. Still, let’s talk about what it would take to trade him.
Xander Bogaerts was probably one of the best Red Sox players in 2019, winning a silver slugger and posting a 5.2 WAR. He was the key to a lineup that featured Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and JD Martinez – all winners or candidates for silver sluggers at their respective positions.
Bogaerts signed an extension early in the 2019 season, a contract from 2020 to 2025; 6-years/$120 million, with an opt-out after the third year. He was one of the few good contracts Dave Dombrowski made happen.
In a year of disappointment, Bogaerts was one of the few bright spots – snubbed at being a finalist for MVP. After all of the praise I just gave Bogaerts, you’re probably wondering why the Red Sox would have any interest in dealing him away.
The only way that trading Bogaerts would benefit the Red Sox would be if he was paired with a player that had a really bad contract. However, if Bogaerts was sent elsewhere, a homegrown talent, smart money would be cut from the payroll, and there would be a humongous hole at shortstop and the middle of the order.
Especially if Bogaerts was paired with another long-term contract, large potential player (most likely a starter), Boston’s roster would be in need of replacing a lot of talent. For those reasons, the right trade would have to come along for Xander to be sent away.
Let’s go over a few of the conditions that would need to happen in order for Bogaerts to be traded.
The Red Sox would have to pair Bogaerts with a player who has a bad contract
There would be no point in trading Bogaerts for prospects unless the Red Sox were interested in a full-blown rebuild. That’s not the direction that Boston should be headed in, rather trimming payroll in order to contend in the future.
A way for the Red Sox to cut payroll is to pair Bogey with a bad contract such as David Price or Nathan Eovaldi. Simply trading him wouldn’t make sense because few players are on as team-friendly of a contract as he is. There also aren’t many MVP candidates that could be swapped for Bogaerts so the Red Sox would be getting less value if he was dealt.
Therefore, in order to get value, packaging Xander with a starter on a bad contract would make more sense for Boston. Packaging Chris Sale, Price, or Eovaldi with Bogaerts would also lead to the Red Sox getting a better prospect haul in return.
The Red Sox would have to receive major-league ready players in return
If the Red Sox have any chance to contend in 2020, and if Bogaerts is on a team’s diamond other than Boston’s, they will need to get players that can slot into the lineup.
If Bogaerts and a starter were dealt, prospects on the brink would be needed. Perhaps, a middle infielder and two pitchers all on the cusp of making the major league roster.
If the Red Sox chose to get prospects in double-A that were 2 to 3 years away from being major-league caliber players, there are 2 clear risks in doing so:
- Players that need a few more years of development are less likely to be successful. A lot can go wrong in a few years – injuries, specifically – and they may not be the player that they were projected to be. Specifically, pitchers carry a lot of risks, many scouts say that there is no such thing as a pitching prospect.
- If the future stars of the Red Sox are two or three years away, it may waste some of the control the Sox have over the current major-league core. For example, in three years, Eduardo Rodriguez will have been a free agent, Andrew Benintendi will be a free agent, and Rafael Devers will be entering his walk year.
Based off of those two reasons, if Bogaerts were traded, he would need to bring back major-league ready players that can help supplement the current core in the majors. Without major league ready players, the Red Sox may have 2 good teams for 3 years each, but if players that are acquired can help complement the current team, the Red Sox may end up having 1 great team.
The Red Sox would have to believe the prospects they acquire are better than Bogaerts and the other players cut
Let’s face it, Xander Bogaerts is probably the second-best shortstop in baseball behind Francisco Lindor. Bogaerts even out-dueled Lindor in 2019 by winning the Silver Slugger for shortstop. From that comparison, it is easy to tell that Bogaerts is one of the best players in baseball – a 135 OPS+ in 2018 and 140 OPS+ in 2019.
So in order for Xander to be traded, the Red Sox would need quite a haul of players. Few players could make up for Bogaerts’ absence, but two or three players may be able to put up better numbers than he would on his own.
A reasonable package for a player of Bogaerts’ caliber could be like the Chris Sale trade in the 2016 to 2017 offseason. In order to get Sale, the Red Sox gave up their top prospect, Yoan Moncada, a top pitching prospect in Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz. Overall, two amazing prospects (Moncada and Kopech) and two lesser but still comparable prospects in Basabe and Diaz.
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If Bogaerts were dealt with one of the three starters, a package similar, plus another prospect or two could be in place.
Similar to the Sale trade, the players would have to be major-league ready – Moncada was a September call-up the year before he was traded and Kopech made his major league debut the year after he was traded, 2018.
Those players were MLB ready, impact players, and something similar would have to happen for Bogaerts to be traded. Bogaerts is the heart and soul of the Red Sox, and trading him would leave an awfully big footprint. However, with the right package, Bogaerts’ spot on the Boston roster could be filled with a few cheaper and more controllable players.
While a Xander Bogaerts trade is intriguing, it seems very unlikely. Bogey has been popular in his time with the Red Sox and his numbers have been getting better since the beginning of 2017. A trade would garner a similar reaction as if the Red Sox traded Betts after his MVP campaign. Not good.
Trading MVP caliber players isn’t a good look from a fan’s perspective and it gives the impression that your team doesn’t want to win. The Red Sox certainly want to win and Bogaerts would play a vital role in the hunt for a second World Series in three years.
Xander Bogaerts has a growing ceiling and is a homegrown star that is beloved in Boston. The perfect package, which no team may be able to construct, would have to come along and it just seems like Bogaerts is the only player sure to be on the Red Sox in 2020.