Will the Red Sox give Xander Bogaerts a new contract?
The issue of Xander Bogaerts’ future has hung over the season like a foreboding storm cloud.
Throughout the year, various Boston Red Sox executives have sung the longtime shortstop’s praises, extolled his contributions and leadership, and proclaimed that they hope he remains part of the team for a very long time.
Of course, no legitimate offer has been revealed to back up these effusive statements. To date, the most recent public offer was an additional year and $30M tacked onto the end of Bogaerts’ current, already team-friendly deal, which goes through 2025 but includes opt-outs each year beginning this fall. So, the niceties are just that; the lowballing of proven homegrown stars tells the real story.
In a conversation with Rob Bradford of WEEI this week, Bloom touched on a plethora of topics, Bogaerts’ future among them. While Bloom did speak with surprising candor at certain points, he continued to dance around the Bogaerts questions with more hollow statements:
"Bradford: “With Bogaerts’ improvement in the field, helping the 29-year-old put the fourth-highest WAR (wins above replacement) in the American League, has your opinion of the shortstop changed since the beginning of the season?”Bloom: “That’s a good question. He has been such a good player for such a long time. It’s kind of a hard question to answer, in a sense. I do think he has had a strong year defensively, but I’m not telling you anything people who watch our games don’t see. I keep going back, I know a lot of us do, to his consistency. I have worked in my past organization with a veteran scout who used to look at amateur players and call them as a compliment, ‘boring, good.’ And that was a compliment. This player is going to show up every day and he’s going to do the right things to put you in position to win a baseball game. Now, Xander happens to be a really talented athlete and great player on top of that. But the consistency of just showing up and doing it every day is something he brings as well as probably any player that is playing now and as well as any player I have been around. It’s not always flashy on any given day, but you can count on it. That is huge. That is really important.”Bradford: “How much do you value the entire package of Bogaerts, including all the off-the-field elements?”Bloom: “A lot. I will put it this way: Normally when you look at players at the point in their career that he is getting to, on paper that is usually the time to get off the bus. To me, it’s basically a threshold issue. It’s because of all those things he brings that he is the type of guy you want to have here for a long time. That you want to have here hopefully for his whole career.”"
To paraphrase, more of the same.
But it’s fair to express frustration with the constant flow of empty words while also understanding that the front office isn’t going to open up its game plan for the world.
So instead, let’s talk about that consistency Bloom raved about.
Excluding his 18-game debut in 2013 and the 60-game season in 2020, Bogaerts has played 136+ games in each of his eight 162-game seasons and 140+ in seven of eight. He’s collected 150+ hits six times, 190+ thrice. In his eight full seasons, he’s doubled at least 28 times and hit double-digit homers each year. Even playing through injury this season, he has 38 doubles and 14 home runs.
By the standards of today’s game, Bogaerts doesn’t strike out often, and he gets on base a lot. This could be the fourth time he finishes a season hitting over .300. By OPS+ standards he’s been an above-average hitter in seven seasons.
The Red Sox can keep Bogaerts pretty easily. He’s made it clear he wants to stay here; he just wants a fair offer, which they have not yet made.
As evidenced by the turmoil and upheaval of the four seasons since their last championship, the Sox desperately need some consistency to anchor this club. Hopefully, Bloom’s praise isn’t so empty that they don’t realize that anchor is Bogaerts.