The Red Sox can still work out an extension with Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts hasn’t been approached by the Boston Red Sox about a contract extension since the 2022 season started but that doesn’t necessarily mean the sides can’t hash out an agreement before the season is over.
Extension talks were frozen by an insultingly low offer that Bogaerts immediately rejected. Bogaerts is expected to opt-out of his current contract after this season, which has three years and $60 million remaining on it. Boston essentially offered to pay him the same amount on a new deal that tacked on only one additional year for $30 million. Obviously, that wasn’t going to get it done.
The Red Sox need to make a serious offer to reignite the discussion but a rocky offseason interrupted by the lockout limited their time before the season started. Back in May, Bogaerts’ agent, Scott Boras, shot down the possibility of discussing an extension during the season.
However, Boras’ stance on in-season talks might be softening, according to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe.
"“My ears are always open,” said Boras. “I meet with the owners a lot. There’s nothing that prevents them from talking to me or me talking to him.”"
Boras has a reputation for convincing his clients to go to free agency, enabling him to open a bidding war that maximizes their earnings. However, he has made exceptions when his client makes it clear they wants to work out an agreement to stay with their current organization. Bogaerts is an example, having signed a team-friendly deal to remain with the Red Sox. Bogaerts has been a relative bargain on his current contract, and while he won’t necessarily fight for every last dollar, he does deserve to be paid a salary that’s comparable to the current market rate for star shortstops.
One hurdle in determining Bogaerts’ value is the question of how long he can remain at shortstop. Bogaerts has arguably the best bat at his position but he doesn’t bring the defensive value of the highest paid shortstops, such as Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor. Bogaerts can’t expect to make the same salary if he isn’t providing the same quality defense and if he might need to switch to a less valuable position down the line.
Bogaerts has shown some improvement in the field this season. He’s not winning a Gold Glove anytime soon but he hasn’t been a liability. He entered the All-Star break with 0 defensive runs saved, putting him on pace for the first season in his career that he hasn’t been rated with negative number by this metric. Statcast rates him with 2 Outs Above Average, per Baseball Savant.
Bogaerts has typically ranked among the worst shortstops in the league in these metrics. If he finishes around league average, the improvement would be a significant boost to his value since it might convince teams that he can stick at shortstop for at least a few more years.
The other obstacle is his age. Bogaerts turns 30 in October, a pivotal age that often represents the point in a player’s career curve where they begin to descend into the end of their prime years. Every player is different, but teams are understandably cautious about how many years to guarantee a player over 30.
The four-year offer the Red Sox put on the table last spring isn’t enough. Even if they bumped his average annual value up closer to the $30 million they were offering in the final year of the deal, Bogaerts might turn it down if his intent is to lock in a deal that allows him to finish his career in Boston.
A compromise would be a slightly lower average annual value compared to the elite shortstops with at least a couple of additional years added to their last offer. Would Bogaerts accept a six-year, $150 million deal? Maybe not, but at least it’s a reasonable offer considering it’s more than Trevor Story received (6-year, $140 million) from the Red Sox last spring. Story’s deal includes a seventh-year option that could push the contract to $160 million. Boston could include a similar incentive for Bogaerts, although it might not be necessary to go seven years since he’s the same age as Story, whose deal would have started a year earlier than a Bogaerts extension.
There is a clear path to an offer that is at least reasonable enough to spark the conversation again. That path gets cloudier if the Red Sox wait until Bogaerts hits free agency, allowing other suitors to drive up the price.
It seemed as though the Red Sox put themselves in a tough spot where they would be forced to fend off competition for Bogaerts, but based on the mid-season comments from Boras, the door appears to be open for the sides to hash out an agreement before the opt-out can be triggered.