The Red Sox and the star shortstop Xander Bogaerts did not agree to a contract extension before the start of the offseason. The four-time All-Star officially waived the final three years of his contract with Boston this morning, sending him to the open market for the first time in his career. The Sox still have exclusive bargaining rights with Bogaerts through Thursday, but there’s no doubt at this point that its representatives at the Boras Corporation will soon be in contact with other teams.
Speaking to reporters (including the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) tonight, Boston baseball’s chief officer Chaim Bloom reiterated that retaining Bogaerts would be the Sox’s ideal pick to tackle the shortstop. “We want it here. He makes us better“said Bloom.”We respect his right to exercise [the opt-out] and explore the market. We want him back and we will stay engaged with him.”
Boston’s head of baseball operations acknowledged the presence of a few other star shortstops, namely Carlos Correa, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson. Although Bloom suggested the team explore the market for potential alternatives, he didn’t mince words when expressing the front office’s overall preference. “It is our first choice. That’s not gonna change“, he told reporters. “Part of our job is to explore all the options to field a team for next year and build a really good squad. We have to explore every possible way to do it, but Bogey is our first choice.”
Bloom indicated that he believed either Trevor’s Story Where Enrique Hernandez would be able to play shortstop if needed, but made it clear the team would prefer to keep them in other positions to keep Bogaerts. Story moved to second base last season. While he had played his entire career at shortstop with the Rockies prior to this year, Story spoke of his desire to stick with the keystone if it means the Red Sox re-sign their stoppage. -short for a long time. That would likely keep Hernández in center field primarily, with the lackluster free agent market at that position apparently playing a part in Boston’s decision to keep utility with a $10 million Labor Day contract extension. .
Of course, this is far from the first time the Sox brass have spoken about their affinity with Bogaerts. Immediately following the season, Bloom called re-signing the four-time Silver Slugger winner ahead of free agency as the team’s top priority. That obviously didn’t happen, and Speier writes that although the sides had discussions after the end of the season, it became clear soon enough that they would not reach an agreement before the withdrawal date.
Boston is sure to kick off the offseason by tagging Bogaerts with a qualifying offer. However, they would only receive minimal compensation if he signed elsewhere. Because the Red Sox passed the base luxury tax threshold last season, they would only add one additional draft pick after the fourth round. Conversely, signing a player like Turner or Swanson who rejects a qualifying offer from another team — Correa is ineligible to receive a QO because he has already received one in his career — would lead to Boston forfeiting his second and fifth highest picks next year. draft and $1 million in international signing bonus space. Granted, the front office will weigh their long-term projections of each of the top free agents more heavily than the draft picks in deciding how to proceed, but they’d pay a heftier draft penalty to add Swanson or Turner than they would to. retain Bogaerts (and therefore lose the compensatory choice).
Bogaerts enters his 31-year-old season with a mark of .307/.377/.456 in 631 plate appearances. His energy production has dipped from his best seasons, but he topped .285 with a .360 or better on-base percentage for the fifth straight year. He also earned slightly above average ratings on public defensiveness, an important step to allay some concerns that he will have to leave shortstop in the relatively near future.
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