Red Sox Rumors: Extension offer to Xander Bogaerts must be a joke

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 19: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox stands on the field after striking out against the Houston Astros to end the seventh inning of Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 19, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 19: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox stands on the field after striking out against the Houston Astros to end the seventh inning of Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 19, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox offer to Xander Bogaerts is hard to believe

The Boston Red Sox were unable to come to terms on an agreement for a contract extension with star shortstop Xander Bogaerts before Opening Day. It’s easy to see why the negotiations stalled, if we’re to believe the reports of Boston’s low-ball offer.

According to Jon Heyman of The New York Post, the Red Sox offered Bogaerts a four-year deal for about $90 million. Under the terms of this extension, Bogaerts would have made $20 million in each of the next three years, the same amount he would make if he doesn’t exercise the opt-out in his contract, before his salary would jump to about $30 million in the final year of the contract.

This has to be a joke, right? That offer reeks of the same tactics that Red Sox ownership regrettably used on Jon Lester. When accounting for inflation, increased revenue and a higher luxury tax threshold since the Lester negotiations nearly a decade ago, this reported offer to Bogaerts is in the same ballpark. Sadly, Fenway isn’t the ballpark that Bogaerts will be calling home beyond this season if this was Boston’s best offer.

This would mean the Red Sox essentially told Bogaerts, don’t opt-out of your current team-friendly deal and we’ll “reward” you with one additional year that values you as an elite shortstop. They had to know there was zero chance of Bogaerts accepting that.

Heyman’s report mentions that a friend of Bogaerts called the offer a “slap in the face.” That sounds accurate. This offer would be a slap in the face to the player and the fans who want to see Bogaerts remain in a Red Sox uniform.

Which is why I’m skeptical that this is really the best offer that Chaim Bloom is willing to put on the table. We don’t know who Heyman’s sources are but it’s fair to assume it was someone in Bogaerts’ camp. While Yankees GM Brian Cashman held a press conference to let the world know that Aaron Judge turned down a 7-year, $213.5 million extension, an offer that is more than fair considering his age and injury history, there’s no way Bloom would want this offer to Bogaerts getting leaked. This report has Scott Boras written all over it.

It would make more sense if the offer was tacking on four more years to his existing contract, essentially making it a 7-year, $150 million deal. That would be a higher total than the Red Sox gave Trevor Story on his 6-year, $140 million deal. It’s a lower average annual value ($21.4 million) than Story ($23.3 million), but still a bump from what Bogaerts is making now. Story adds more value on defense and since they are the same age, Bogaerts will be a year older if he hits free agency after the season than Story was when he signed. Xander may not have accepted that offer but at least it’s reasonable.

Heyman indicated that Boston’s offer “would have left a gap of more than $100 million,” which is why Bogaerts didn’t bother to counter. We don’t know exactly what Bogaerts thinks he’s worth, but this suggests he’s looking for a $200+ million deal. Sorry, we all love Xander, but if he hits free agency at the age of 30, he’s not worth over $200 million. He’s not getting 10+ years at that age and he’s not getting paid the $30+ million per year that elite shortstops are getting on the open market when his defensive deficiencies should force him to switch positions at some point in the near future.

Boston’s offer is embarrassing but the suggested asking price from Bogaerts is almost equally unrealistic.

If this really was Bloom’s best offer, it signals the opposite of what he’s been saying publicly about a desire to keep Bogaerts in the organization. He must have known that offer wouldn’t get it done, which suggests he wasn’t really eager to lock up his star shortstop.

If Bogaerts bolts after the season, Boston can slide Story over to his natural shortstop position, at least for a couple of years until top prospect Marcelo Mayer is ready. Bloom might be saying to Bogaerts, hey, we want you here in Boston but if you stay, you’re not going to stick at shortstop for the remainder of your career, which means we’re not paying you to be an elite shortstop. Test free agency to see what the market thinks you’re worth. If you don’t find the deal you expected, come back to us and we’ll match any offer we feel is reasonable. If you leave, we’re covered at the position in the short and long term.

Playing hardball with a star player isn’t going to sit well with the fans but handing that player a blank check for a lifetime deal is wildly irresponsible. Fans still stinging from the Mookie Betts debacle would be furious to see another beloved star leave town but Bloom can’t let emotions get in the way of making smart business decisions.

There’s no need to overpay when signing a player to an early extension. The player benefits by locking in more guaranteed money and eliminating the risk of poor performance or injury diminishing their value. There’s little benefit to the team if they are paying top dollar. They can afford to let Bogaerts test the market knowing they have a strong backup plan at his position if he leaves, in which case they can allocate those funds elsewhere.

It’s clear why the Red Sox didn’t jump at the chance to give Bogaerts whatever he wanted but a low-ball offer that they knew would only frustrate him is a baffling alternative. Not submitting an offer would have been better than what the Red Sox allegedly presented to Bogaerts.

Bogaerts is almost certainly hitting free agency after this season, where he might need to compete with Carlos Correa and Trea Turner as the top shortstops on the market. Xander probably isn’t going to get the same type of deal that his elite peers will receive but he’ll undoubtedly get more than $90 million.

There’s a middle ground that makes sense for both sides but it appears the Red Sox aren’t willing to explore that territory yet. Either they are willing to gamble on the market setting his price or they are content to let Bogaerts leave. Neither scenario is necessarily the wrong decision but submitting an insulting offer that was never going to be accepted clearly isn’t the right decision.

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