Just 9 days after Chris Sale signed an extension with the Red Sox, shortstop Xander Bogaerts has agreed to terms on a new deal as well.
The extension, which starts in 2020, will be worth $120 million over 6 seasons.
Bogaerts has been a two-time Silver Slugger during his career, and was an All-Star in 2016. Last season in just 136 games, he hit a career-high 23 home runs while driving in 103 runs; he was 13th in AL MVP voting.
Sometimes his talent goes a bit under the radar. He plays behind some great hitters in Boston, but relative to his position, he is one of the best.
Batting Stats of Shortstops (2016-2018)
- 54 home runs, 254 RBI
- .286/.353/.454 (OPS = .808)
- 9.9 WAR (13.8 oWAR)
- 86 home runs,, 259 RBI
- .283/.349/.488 (OPS = .837)
- 19.3 WAR (15.4 oWAR)
- 88 home runs, 262 RBI
- .268/.333/.530 (OPS = .862)
- 11.3 WAR (9.9 oWAR)
- 59 home runs, 245 RBI
- .276/.359/.468 (OPS = .826)
- 13.8 WAR (14.0 oWAR)
- 34 home runs, 190 RBI
- .288/.338/.434 (OPS = .772)
- 10.0 WAR (9.4 oWAR)
- 72 home runs, 243 RBI
- .277/.319/.472 (OPS = .791)
- 10.2 WAR (11.1 oWAR)
- 41 home runs, 172 RBI
- .308/.353/.449 (OPS = .803)
- 13.1 WAR (12.8 oWAR)
Bogaerts has batting averages at the levels of players like Lindor, Andrus, and Correa, but where the best at the position seem to reign supreme is in hitting home runs. Bogaerts has power, and if last season was any indication, he seems to have found a formula that will work for the future. His RBI totals are at the level of the best of his position. His WAR is weighed down by a bad 2017 season, but overall, his oWAR is at the level of a player like Correa.
Red Sox moving forward
With this financial commitment made to Bogaerts, it means the Red Sox now have the following players secured through 2021, either through extensions or arbitration:
That’s 12 of the 25 players that were on the 25-man roster for the postseason in 2018. Other key players from last season that will (or could) become free agents before 2021 are:
Mookie Betts (FA after 2020)
J.D. Martinez (opt-out after 2019)
Jackie Bradley Jr. (FA after 2020)
Rick Porcello (FA after 2019)
Brock Holt (FA after 2019)
Mitch Moreland (FA after 2019)
Eduardo Nunez (FA after 2019)
Steve Pearce (FA after 2019)
Brandon Workmen (FA after 2020)
The biggest names on this list are Mookie and Martinez. The two best hitters on the team, decisions will need to be made about their futures moving forward. Martinez is technically signed through 2022, but he has an opt-out after this season, and based on the year he had in 2018, he would be wise to hit the market and look for a raise (where he would certainly get one). However, the Red Sox were his favorite team growing up, and maybe he is content staying here long term with the deal he already has.
For Mookie, things might be looking less and less ideal. With the players signed through 2021 (excluding those under arbitration), the Red Sox have roughly $135 million committed to them. Players under arbitration for 2021 such as Benintendi, Devers, and Rodriguez will surely be paid a lot. I am not sure what the luxury tax will be for 2021, but the Red Sox would almost certainly need to exceed it if they want to bring back Mookie, who will more than likely be asking for between $33 million and $35 million per season. Martinez is currently pegged at $19.35 million in 2021 (accounted for in the $135 million number), but assuming he gets a nice raise (reaching say $30 million), that number will increase to $146 million.
The way I look at Xander’s deal: unless the Red Sox are willing to pay into the luxury tax for years to come, Mookie Betts will not be on the team in 2021.
Now this could be a blessing or a curse. Obviously Mookie is an extremely talented player, I will never deny that, and losing him would be a blow for the team. However, if the Red Sox came to terms with the fact that they could not bring him back, between now and the July 31, 2020, they could trade him for a massive haul.
This is not like basketball where players on the last year of their contract do not yield a strong return. The idea of a rental in baseball is more accepted, and teams looking to win are willing to give up key prospects for just 2-3 months of a player (see: Manny Machado with the Dodgers).
If this were to be what the Red Sox see as an ideal strategy, I believe they should go all-in this season (which is the plan), re-evaluate after 2019, and begin to see what the trade market would be for Mookie Betts. It would probably make more sense to trade him in the winter, especially if you believe you’ll be in contention during 2020, but that’s not my call.
For a farm system that was depleted in order to get players like Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale, trading Mookie could revamp the system, giving you good prospects that could come up to Boston and play at a low cost, complimenting the core you already have locked up at a hefty price.
It is not an easy decision, and maybe Boston decides to go all-in for 2020 as well and just lose Mookie in free agency, but based on the fact extensions have been given to Sale and Bogaerts already, the team does not look like they expect to go down into the night after 2019. They expect to keep competing for the next 3-4 seasons.
The best course of action at this point from a team-building perspective would be trading Mookie. I am not sure I would have extended Bogaerts, leading to that reality, but it gives the Red Sox security into the future, which I understand.
Boston had one of the greatest teams of all-time last season, but decisions were going to need to be made. Bogaerts is a solid player, and one I think we have not seen the best off. Having him through 2025 is a win anyway you slice it. The team may have sacrificed losing Mookie Betts, but if they want to make the best of that situation, they can trade him to a team that would give them blue-chip prospects that could help them in the years to come. Make the right deal, sign other key players like Benintendi, and they should be able to sustain success into the future.
Cost of doing business… unless there’s an infinite amount of money, in that case, 8 years, $300 million for Mookie please.
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