The Red Sox need to plan for Xander Bogaerts’ future
As I watch game after game, night after night, one thing has become more than certain to me. Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is the absolute best in the game and it’s time that he get paid like it. While his current deal still has plenty of time left on it, a pesky opt-out clause after next season could make things very interesting. With the team having a not-so-great track record with big-name stars and their contracts, Chaim Bloom needs to be proactive before he has to be reactive.
This is a situation that Boston lucked out on big time ahead of the 2019 season when Bogey took a hometown deal that saw him get a significant raise as well as some long-term stability. Since then he’s jettisoned himself into the stratosphere of the elite at his position and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. While the Red Sox don’t have to worry about free agency as they did with Mookie Betts, they do have to worry about him deciding he wants a big payday somewhere else to finish out his career.
Xander will be turning 29 when the calendar flips to the postseason in 2021 meaning he’ll hit that terrible 30 number at the end of 2022. The thing is, if he continues on his current pace and finishes the rest of this year hot and just crushes next season, his age won’t matter. He’ll have that golden ticket to opt-out of his deal and teams will be more than willing to find money in the budget for his services.
However, if Chaim can get ahead of the storm, especially with a season and a half to work, he can still get Bogey the money he wants without killing Boston’s bank account. The whole reason that the Betts/David Price trade happened was to cut salary and get below the CBT.
They’ve more than achieved that and with even more money coming off the books soon, Bloom will have the fiscal ability to give Bogey a monster deal that will see him retire as a member of the Red Sox organization. He’ll also need to start planning on a deal for Rafael Devers soon but it’s Xander’s time now.
The two-time World Champion is only getting better with age and his durability is becoming one of his best assets. The only time the man was on the IL was for 19 days at the beginning of April 2018. Since then he’s been an iron-man for this team and he didn’t even need Tony Stark.
When he signed the extension that he did back in 2019 it was before the massive boom in shortstop contracts. Since then we’ve seen Francisco Lindor sign for $341M and Fernando Tatis Jr. for $340M. And that’s just at the position he plays. We all know what the Dodgers gave Mookie, the Angels gave Mike Trout, and what the Phillies gave Bryce Harper. It’s time that Xander finds himself in that conversation as his level of play more than gets his foot in the door before even looking at the intangibles.
One thing that I believe sets him aside from his former teammate is his ability to be a leader. Now, Mookie very well may have been a leader in the clubhouse, but I can’t recall ever seeing it on the field. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it just means it wasn’t memorable or didn’t happen often enough. Bogaerts on the other hand can be seen every damn night coaching up Raffy, talking to a rattled pitcher to calm him down, or just commanding the infield.
Just look at last night, after Christian Arroyo hit the game-tying homer he went up to him on the field and hugged him. He can also be seen making sure to give his guys props on a great play or giving advice on where to be and when. It’s the little things sometimes and Xander is good at them all. There’s a reason that Red Sox Nation views him as the uncrowned captain of this team and his skipper is in on that mindset. Alex Cora always praises Bogey for his on and off-the-field leadership tendencies and what he brings to this club and city.
I think it would be in the best interest of both sides to sit down and at least get the conversation started. They don’t need to make a deal right away but I’d at least make sure Xander knows that he’s wanted here and the organization will do what’s necessary to keep him. He’s averaging $20M/yr right now and that’s going to need to change.
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If Boston wants to be competitive with what other teams may offer, they’re going to have to get into the $30-32M range. Being that he’ll be hitting 30 when he can opt-out, I think Bloom may be able to offer say 8yrs/$256. Add in some opt-outs at the end for either side so there is an exit strategy on both ends to make it more appealing if necessary. He’ll still be well under those others as far as total contract dollars but it’s a massive raise for him and a show of good faith from the team that we haven’t seen before.
It should say something that I’ve been able to say all of this and make this argument without even bringing up his numbers. I’ve hinted at them, but honestly, there hasn’t been a need. You can talk about Bogaerts for days on end without even mentioning a slash line. But, since it’s pretty damn good I’m gonna go ahead and do it for ya. Xander is mashing at a .324/.382/.547/.929 clip with 73 hits, 17 doubles, 11 homers, and 38 RBI. He’s the top-ranked SS in all of MLB for his offense and leads the AL in several categories. His 3.0 WAR is the best in all of baseball for shortstops.
Xander Bogaerts is the lifeblood of this team and everything runs through him. If he’s hot more often than not the rest of the lineup will be buzzing. If he’s making great plays in the field the rest of the defensive wants to match his effort. He may not have a “C” on his jersey but he is definitely the captain and leader of this team. He’s given everything to this organization and he should be rewarded for everything he does on and off the field. Get it done Chaim, then get a spot in the rafters ready for Bogey’s number.