Red Sox In “Heavy Discussions” With Xander Bogaerts

1:15pm: Abraham tweets that there is “momentum” between Bogaerts and the Sox.

11:40am: The Red Sox and shortstop Xander Bogaerts are meeting this morning, according to Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe. The sides are in “heavy discussions,” according to Jon Heyman of The New York Post.

Bogaerts, of course, has spent his entire career with the Sox thus far, having been signed as an amateur back in 2009. He worked his way up to the majors by 2013 and had a tremendous breakout season in 2015, firmly establishing himself as the club’s shortstop. He’s held down that job ever since, making at least 134 starts at short in each full season from 2015 onwards, as well as 52 starts in 2020.

Bogaerts signed an extension with the club in 2019, which was generally considered to be very team-friendly. It had the potential to keep Bogaerts in Boston through 2026, though it also afforded him the opportunity to opt out after 2022. Bogaerts just continued to mash in the four years since that extension was signed, hitting 82 home runs and producing an overall batting line of .304/.376/.503 from 2019 through 2022. That level of production has made it clear for some time that Bogaerts would opt out, which is perhaps why the Sox went out and grabbed Trevor Story in free agency a year ago. The club reportedly made a feeble attempt at another Bogaerts extension back in April, but that went nowhere and Bogaerts eventually opted out.

Boston’s chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has continued to insist that retaining Bogaerts is a priority for the club, despite Bogaerts seemingly getting stronger interest from other clubs like the Padres, Cubs, Phillies and Diamondbacks. However, it’s possible that there is now some more urgency towards a reunion. As Abraham notes, there was a call last night between Boston’s owners and executives, with the contents of that conversation perhaps leading to today’s meetings.

Bogaerts entered free agency as one of the “big four” shortstops, alongside Carlos Correa, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson. Turner has already come off the board, securing an 11-year, $300MM deal with the Phillies. MLBTR predicted that Bogaerts would get $189MM over seven years, or $27MM per season. However, the market has generally been strong so far this offseason, with most players beating their projections, sometimes significantly.

The Sox have primarily been active in the relief market so far, adding Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin and Joely Rodriguez to their bullpen. Those deals have brought their 2023 payroll to $157MM, per Roster Resource, with a competitive balance tax calculation of $177MM. The Sox paid the luxury tax this year but would still be shy of next year’s $233MM threshold even if they added close to $30MM on a Bogaerts deal. However, by going over in 2022, they’ve dented their compensation if Bogaerts signs elsewhere. Since he received and rejected a qualifying offer, the Red Sox would get a draft pick if he joined another team but their CBT payor status bumps that pick to after the fourth round when it would have been just before the third round otherwise.

In the event a deal does get done, it’s likely that the club would use a similar infield mix to last year with Xander at short, Story at second and Devers at third. Devers is entering his walk year, meaning it’s possible that a similar “will they get it done” situation plays out next year with him instead of Bogaerts. For 2023 though, a Bogaerts signing would likely push Enrique Hernández back into center field on a full-time basis, lessening the club’s need to worry about that spot.

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