Is 2022 a farewell tour for Xander Bogaerts’ tenure with the Red Sox?
Is it too early for a eulogy for Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts? Is the 2022 season his last in a Red Sox uniform thanks to an opt-out clause in his contract? This will not be a farewell tour like that of David Ortiz, and I doubt there will be honors given at visiting ballparks as there was for Big Papi.
The Rangers signing Corey Seager to a ten-year, $325 million contract has set the bar. Seager’s agent is Scott Boras, the same agent as Bogaerts. Would it be a judicious application of money to extend Bogaerts at the same average salary as Seager? A sensible approach and one not fiscally insane, but we are talking Boras, Red Sox, and contracts.
The Red Sox options for replacements have generated substantial internet ink over the last few months, and I have certainly been part of the scrum regarding Bogaerts. The latest nonsensical rumor is Trevor Story to Boston. Again, giving XB a boost would eliminate that possibility.
The attractive big splash option in the free-agent market remains on the board. Carlos Correa invariably is linked to the Red Sox, which is a possible residue of the Red Sox of Christmas past. Correa would get the attention that Boston has now returned to blowing away competition for free agents with that great enticement – money.
As with any eulogy, one must discuss the departed or potentially soon to be departed. Bogaerts will not receive any Gold Glove Awards, but he has displayed defensive competency. Bogaerts will, like Nomar Garciaparra, make the expected plays, but then comes the critical ingredients of offense and leadership, of which Bogaerts excels.
Bogaerts has accumulated three Silver Slugger Awards to honor his offensive capabilities at short. A steady run-producing machine and near .300 hitter yearly. A quiet leader who, at age-29, has nine years of MLB experience under his cleats. Bogaerts has been mentioned as a defacto captain regarding the intangible of leadership. Quiet, unassuming, respected, and a consummate professional.
Now to give a baseball bone to conspiracy theories. Are the Red Sox contemplating a “Sophie’s Choice” between Bogaerts and Rafael Devers? Bogaerts has long been mentioned as a third baseman and, as a 20-year-old in 2013, cut some innings at the hot corner. That leaves slugger Devers as a trade prize. I doubt that, but, hey, anything is possible with a new corporate stratagem.
The Red Sox are fortifying short with long-range Bogaert’s implications being a motivator. First-round pick (2021) Marcelo Mayer is a long way from Boston but appears a nice draft catch. Jeter Downs can handle the position but has to re-establish his credentials after a miserable season (.190) in Worcester.
Christian Arroyo can play short if he manages to stay on the field. Arroyo may have lost his position to Enrique Hernandez after Jackie Bradley Jr. was brought back into the fold. One prospect poached from the Brewers in the Bradley deal is David Hamilton – a speedy shortstop.
The simple solution is often the best, and that is to extend Bogaerts, and the problem is resolved. Otherwise, a domino takes place, complicating multiple positions. With the obligation to Dustin Pedroia shrinking to $2 million and the $16 million obligations to David Price going poof after 2022, the money is available. Would the Red Sox pay Bogaerts or take a Scrooge McDuck approach and wallow in the extra cash? Just extending the existing contract for five years at the going rate may accomplish the task of keeping Bogaerts as a Red Sox.
The wise business decision of paying the price is three-fold, and it maintains a player that is critical to the teams’ success. A move would also be specific to public relations, especially after Mookie Betts was jettisoned. Lastly, it is organizational, where success is rewarded and a message sent that this may be a business, but a family business with a dose of loyalty. I may be stating a purely Pollyanna outcome with loyalty and business connected.
The Bogaerts situation will give an indicator of the future direction of the Red Sox. A future that could see Devers being a former member of the Red Sox could reverberate as other talented young players reach a critical point in the team’s finances. Quite like Tampa Bay.