For almost two weeks, Red Sox fans have braced themselves for the goodbye they knew was coming.
Xander Bogaerts would never leave without saying goodbye. That’s not what captains do, and for many years now, he’s been Boston’s captain; he just never needed the ‘C’ on his jersey to prove it.
But when fans awoke on Monday morning to see that Bogaerts – an infrequent user of social media – had posted on his Instagram for the first time in over a year, they knew, even before reading the caption, that this was it.
"“Dear Red Sox Nation – Thank you for an incredible ride (and what a ride it was)! It was an honor to wear the Red Sox uniform and play in front of the best and most knowledgeable fans in baseball. There were some highs and lows but two World Series trophies during my time to celebrate with you all was absolutely incredible. Thank you to the Red Sox for taking a chance on a young kid from the island of Aruba. Thank you to all the coaches, athletic trainers, managers and front office folks who I have crossed paths with over the course of 14 years. Every single one of you impacted my life in more ways than one and helped me develop into the player I am today. And lastly, to every player that took the field with me in a Red Sox uniform, I say thank you. Thank you for being great teammates and friends. So many of you taught me what it means to be a professional on the field and off the field.Thank you Boston. Until we meet again!”via Xander Bogaerts IG"
Xander Bogaerts’ goodbye message broke Red Sox fans’ hearts all over again
The finality of Bogaerts’ message is staggering. It was surreal to see the news of his Padres deal break, and an out-of-body experience watching him don a new uniform and cap in San Diego last week. Now, it’s real.
Losing Bogaerts isn’t just about losing a player who averaged 39 doubles and 20 home runs per 162 games, or hit .300 in three of the last four seasons (he only hit .295 in 2021). It’s so much more than the fact that he hit more grand slams and played more games at shortstop than anyone in franchise history. The magnitude of his exit goes beyond his four All-Star seasons, five Silver Sluggers, and two World Series championships.
What the Red Sox have lost in Bogaerts cannot be quantified or tabulated on a spreadsheet. This is losing your captain, your leader, the quietly strong and noble face of your franchise. Bogaerts was never flashy or brash; rarely did he display anything close to ‘having an attitude,’ and if he did, it was for a good reason, like when the Sox made him a one-year, $30M “offer” last spring, insulting his many contributions and hurting his feelings. After every game, he stood in front of his locker and fielded questions, holding himself accountable while some of his teammates – often the ones who’d actually cost them the game – ducked out. He’s exactly the kind of player every team wants to represent them.
Well, not every team, apparently.
Bogaerts’ departure breaks the chain. He played with David Ortiz – scratch that – he won a World Series with David Ortiz. Not a single player left on this roster can say that. In fact, with his departure, Rafael Devers is the only position player left from the 2018 championship season, never mind 2013.
Ortiz and Pedro Martinez warned the Sox repeatedly: if you lose Bogaerts, you will lose the culture of championship we began to cultivate almost two decades ago. It’s unclear why the Sox bother to pay Ortiz and Martinez to serve as special advisors if they do not heed the warnings of two of the greatest players in the history of the game, let alone the franchise.
The pain of watching Bogaerts leave – compounded by the loss of Mookie Betts less than three years ago, and the fear that Rafael Devers may soon be next – isn’t something that will go away any time soon. His absence will be palpable on Opening Day 2023, and for every game hereafter.
Goodbye and good luck, Xander Bogaerts.