Bloom: Bogaerts extension is top priority for Red Sox

1:45 p.m.: Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said during today’s season-ending presser that a new contract for Bogaerts is the team’s top priority, and the process of attempting to overtime will begin immediately (link via Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com). Boston is hoping to strike a new deal with Bogaerts before it can even formally exercise its opt-out, five days after the World Series ends.

12:45 p.m.: Xander Bogaerts, who can opt out of the three years and $60 million remaining on his contract after the end of the playoffs, said after the final game of the season that he had no recent discussions with the Red Sox about a new contract (link via Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato). He indicated last May that he was open to discussions during the season. Bogaerts plans to return home to Aruba in the coming days and enjoy a mental reset after a long season. “I need it more than many years I’ve been here,” Bogaerts said of his upcoming stay at home.

The 2022 season has been a tough one for the Red Sox, who went from missing the 2021 World Series by one game to finishing last in the American League East. Boston has faced a myriad of injuries, as key names like Chris Sale, Trevor’s Story, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Enrique Hernandez all have spent a lot of time on the shelf. That said, there was a lot more than injuries at stake. The Sox have been hammered by bullpen issues all season, struggled to find quality rotation work beyond Eovaldi’s quartet, Wacha, Nick Pivette and rich hilland saw multiple hitters (e.g. Hernandez, Story, Bobby Dalbec, Alex Verdugo and JD Martinez) are below their previous contribution levels.

To a small extent, Bogaerts was part of this attacking slowdown. While he’s been excellent overall, hitting .307/.377/.456 in 631 plate appearances, he’s hit “only” 15 home runs this season — his lightest performance in the power department since 2017 ( both in terms of total circuits and ISO). Bogaerts saw his exit speed, barrel rate, and hit rate drop, further supporting the drop in extra-base pop. That said, Bogaerts also picked up the pace in the final two months of the season, and he and Raphael Devers were still the team’s two best players by a wide margin.

Bogaerts’ post-game comments yesterday contained two repeated themes: he hopes to stay with the Red Sox – the only organization he has ever known – but is also a different player and person than he was when he signed his original contract extension. Bogaerts has repeatedly said he has grown and matured over recent seasons, adding that he is “in a different mentality now than he was a few years ago”.

Bogaerts is a real lock to step back and test free agency. Nothing he said yesterday suggested otherwise, and while the drop in power may be something of a red flag for interested teams, it’s fair to point out that said downturn has been accompanied by a major increase of his defensive ratings. Bogaerts posted negative ratings in Defensive Runs Saved and Statcast’s Outs Above Average in each of the four seasons heading into 2022, but was solid across the board at shortstop in 2022 according to DRS ( 4), OAA (5) and Ultimate Zone Rating (5.4).

This could work in his favor to combat the narrative that he will have to move to third base or second base – maybe sooner rather than later. Some suitors may still prefer him to another position, and a willingness to play elsewhere can certainly bolster his market – just ask Story or Marcus Semien — but the 2022 campaign is a point in his favor if Bogaerts intends to stay at shortstop for the foreseeable future.

Regardless of his defensive home, Bogaerts’ bat should lead him to a longer-term, more lucrative deal than the club-friendly extension he originally signed with the Sox a few years ago. He’s been at least 29% better than average at home plate in each of the past five seasons, according to wRC+, posting a combined .300/.373/.507 slash with 105 long balls in that span. . He’s also been pretty resilient, sustaining just one injury (a minor crack in his ankle in 2018) and playing in 91% of total Red Sox games in that half-decade.

The Red Sox’s public stance on the matter has repeatedly been that the team hopes to sign Bogaerts, although the team’s latest extension offer casts doubt on the plausibility of that outcome. Boston reportedly offered Bogaerts an extra year at a cost of $30 million during spring training. That would have taken Bogaerts to four years and $90 million in total commitment, and it stands to reason he could more than double that overall open-market guarantee this winter as he heads into his 30-year season. year.

Boston already has just under $102 million in guaranteed contracts on the books next year, though Bogaerts accounts for $20 million of that sum. By 2024, they’ll be down to around $57 million (without Bogaerts), and by 2025 Story’s contract is the last notable guarantee left on the books. The team may be optimistically saving payroll space for a Devers extension, but it’s entirely possible that the three of Story, Bogaerts and Devers could fit into the payroll – especially for a big club. market with few other major guarantees for other players beyond the 2024 season.

If and when Bogaerts opts out, he will be eligible to receive a Qualifying Offer. He will surely receive and reject this, positioning the Red Sox to receive compensation if he leaves as a free agent. However, as the Red Sox finished the 2022 season north of the $230 million luxury tax line (with a reported margin of around $4.5 million), they could be given a pick between fourth and fifth. rounds of next summer’s draft – as opposed to the choice between Competitive Balance Round B and Round 3 they would otherwise have received.

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