By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Red Sox have plenty of tough decisions to make when it comes to the future of their roster.
Keeping Xander Bogaerts in Boston was an easy one.
The Sox made the right decision extending their homegrown 26-year-old shortstop with a 6-year, $120 million deal. Bogaerts is a core player and will continue to be one of the cornerstone pieces on this team through 2025.
It's hard to find a reason to dislike this move. It's a great deal for both sides.
For Bogaerts, the contract represents fair market value for a player of his caliber. Beginning next year, he will earn $20 million annually, surpassing Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers ($15 million per year) as the highest-paid shortstop in baseball.
The shortstop market was due for a major reset, and Bogaerts was going to be the player to do it this offseason. The Red Sox didn't wait. They stepped in paid Bogaerts what he is worth.
Well done, Dave Dombrowski.
For the Red Sox, a long-term to commitment to Bogaerts is one of the most solid investments they can make. Of all of Boston's potential big-money signings in the next two years, Bogaerts might just be the safest bet to live up to his salary.
Is Chris Sale going to stay healthy? Is Rick Porcello worth another 4-year, $80 million deal? Can Mookie Betts seriously live up to a contract that could total $400 million?
I have little doubt that Bogaerts will be worth it.
The contract will cover all of his prime years and will not extend into his mid-30's, a fate the Sox have been unable to avoid in recent contracts handed out to Sale, David Price, and Dustin Pedroia.
Unlike those players, the Sox are only paying Bogaerts through his age 32 season. That's as ideal as a contract extension can get for a player that was on the verge of free agency.
Bogaerts thrived in 2018, his first year playing for Alex Cora. Cora encouraged his shortstop to adopt a more aggressive approach at the plate, a major reason why Bogaerts turned in the best offensive season of his career (.288, 23 HR, 102 RBI, and an .888 OPS).
It's not unreasonable to expect him to put up those types of numbers for the next four or five years.
While Bogaerts will never be a gold glove shortstop, he has exceeded expectations and has become a solid player in the field. His bat is good enough to play at third base if a move to the hot corner becomes necessary as he ages.
$20 million per year may seem like a lot, but that money will be easy to budget moving forward. 2019 marks the final year of Pablo Sandoval's 5-year, $95 million disaster. With $19 million per year coming off the books at the end of this season, the Sox can easily reallocate those funds to Bogaerts without having to cut salary elsewhere.
Bogaerts might not be the best player on the Red Sox, but he is a key contributor at a critical position. The Red Sox spent a decade searching for a shortstop after trading Nomar Garciaparra in 2004. They finally found one, and he will be here for the much of the next decade.
That can only be viewed as a good thing for both Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox.
This deal was a no-brainer.