The latest Xander Bogaerts free agency report is potentially brutal news for the Red Sox
November 30th, 2022
It’s been just under a month since Xander Bogaerts opted out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox and officially became a free agent. At the time, there was speculation and reports that both parties would be open to Bogaerts returning to Boston. That of course would require a commitment from both sides, and was never a guarantee.
Again, that was less than a month ago. How much can change in just 20 days? Reportedly, a lot.
More: Tony Mazz reacts to latest Xander Bogaerts news
On Tuesday night, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic posted an article with numerous free agent rumors from around the league. Bogaerts is one of the players he mentions, noting that Bogaerts could be a fit for the San Diego Padres, with Padres GM A.J. Preller reportedly asking Bogaerts’ agent Scott Boras if Bogaerts would be open to a short-term position change.
While it’s obviously not great news for the Red Sox that a team like the San Diego Padres, who is willing to spend is interested in Bogaerts, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. There was always going to be competition to sign the 30-year-old four-time All-Star. No, the real troublesome news for the Red Sox came not with Rosenthal’s column on Tuesday night, but with a response on Wednesday morning.
That’s when long-time MLB insider Peter Gammons added what he’s heard, quote-tweeting Rosenthal’s article. “In the past three days front office folks from 3 teams claim they’ve been told he has severed Boston ties and won’t be going back,” Gammons tweeted. “Whether that’s negotiating leverage talk or reality, there’s no confirmation.”
Gammons’ final point is an important one. This could just be posturing by Boras to improve Bogaerts’ standing at the negotiating table. Still, to have the same information come from three separate organizations is certainly notable.
UPDATE: Wednesday afternoon, Boras spoke to The Boston Globe and refuted Gammons’ report.
Jun 4, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Sports agent Scott Boras attends a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Either way, this isn’t great news for the Red Sox retaining Bogaerts as a free agent. Best case scenario, things have degraded far enough at the negotiating table that Boras has to turn to moving the external narrative to get things back on track. The worst case scenario is, of course, that was Gammons is reporting is an accurate representation of the situation and Bogaerts’ camp has written off a return to Boston within 20 days of hitting the open market.
If that’s the case, the Red Sox will have some serious questions to answer. It has been reported multiple times going back to the end of the regular season that re-signing Bogaerts was a priority for the organization. On Oct. 6, Sean McAdam of Boston Sports Journal reported that Bogaerts’ camp and Red Sox ownership had met “several times,” with the goal of those meetings being “to emphasize to Bogaerts that the team wants to retain him and will make him its top priority.”
A month and a day later, that plan still seemed to be in place. Speaking at the Winter Meetings on Nov. 7, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom reaffirmed the team’s commitment to keeping Bogaerts in Boston.
“Of course, we’re not happy with not having him in the organization,” Bloom said about Bogaerts officially opting out of his contract. “That right to have his [value] fully vetted by the market is something that is important to a lot of players. It’s something you have to earn, and he’s earned it. We respect his right to exercise it and to explore the market. We want him back, and we will stay engaged with him.”
“He’s our first choice. That’s not going to change,” Bloom continued.
A few days later, Red Sox CEO and president Sam Kennedy told The Boston Globe that the team had “sweetened” its offer to Bogaerts. That was pretty much the last major update on Bogaerts’ situation until Rosenthal’s report Tuesday night.
BOSTON, MA – MAY 04: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels Fenway Park on May 4, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
For Red Sox fans, this all may not come as much of a surprise. From Jon Lester to Mookie Betts and others, Red Sox fans have heard their team’s front office fawn over cornerstone players in recent years before seeing those players exit Boston in cost-cutting moves.
On top of that, the Bogaerts situation currently serves as the setup for the next big Red Sox contract saga – that of Rafael Devers. The 26-year-old MVP candidate is entering his final year of arbitration, and will need a new contract in the next calendar year – if not this winter, than next winter.
Devers seems to be watching to see how the Red Sox handle Bogaerts’ situation too. Last week, Devers told Red Sox reporter Marino Pepen, “for me Xander Bogaerts is a very important player on the team and he has always been here at Red Sox (sic). He’s my friend, he’s my family, so I’d like him to stay here…I hope they sign both of us.”
As important as it may be for the Red Sox to re-sign Bogaerts, whether they do or don’t could have further reaching consequences as well. That only adds to the stakes of what’s at hand currently.
The Red Sox may still have time to mend their broken bridge with Bogaerts. If there’s been one thing that’s stood out about MLB free agency in recent years, it’s that it’s slow. Top players may not sign until well into March. But they’re going to need to come up with something, or risk repeating a pattern that has had fans second-guessing the direction of the organization.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarthor via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.