For the first time in almost a decade, the Boston Red Sox need a shortstop.
And because of who they need to replace, it’s an almost impossible task. There’s no way to make up for losing a player who excelled on the field and as a leader in the clubhouse. The Sox really shouldn’t even bother looking, because they won’t find another Xander Bogaerts.
They can still target the last big shortstop on the free-agent market, though, and it looks like they are. On Thursday night, several fans noticed that manager Alex Cora is now following Dansby Swanson and his new wife, soccer star Mallory Pugh, on Instagram.
It could be nothing, but it could also be a clue. Bogaerts began following the Padres on Instagram in late November and was signing his contract in San Diego less than two weeks later.
Alex Cora’s latest Instagram activity hints Red Sox are targeting Dansby Swanson
Of the four big shortstops on the market this offseason, Swanson is the last man standing. Trea Turner signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for 10 years, $300M, Bogaerts went to the San Diego Padres for 11 years, $280M, and Carlos Correa signed with the San Francisco for 13 years, $350M.
The Red Sox’ “best” offer to Bogaerts, their “top priority,” was six years, $160M. Based on what he and the other two shortstops ended up getting, they’d need to make him a bigger offer than they did to their former captain.
As Chaim Bloom noted during last week’s MLB Winter Meetings, the Sox have in-house shortstop options in Trevor Story and Kiké Hernández. However, he also made the odd choice to say that the Sox hoped it wouldn’t come down to either of them having to play there. Moving either player to short creates holes elsewhere; the Sox outfield is thin as is, and Story excelled at second base in 2022. He repeatedly stated that he’d be happy to remain at second if it meant Bogaerts returning to Boston.
Over seven seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Swanson was a .255/.321/.417 hitter. He’s shown impressive durability throughout his career; most recently, he played all 162 regular-season games this year, and 160 in 2021. He’s coming off his first All-Star season, in which he hit 32 doubles and a career-high 26 home runs. Only one player on the Red Sox even reached 20 home runs last season (Rafael Devers hit 27), so Swanson’s bat would be a welcome addition.
Defensively, Swanson just won his first Gold Glove. His 9 Defensive Runs Saved tied for sixth at his position, and he led all shortstops with 21 Outs Above Average; no other player at his position exceeded 13 OAA.