RSCTBNL: Xander Bogaerts Is Not Just One of the Best Shortstops In the Game; Will He Be Paid Like One?

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Xander Bogaerts is now in his eighth full season in the major leagues and is emerging as not just one of the top shortstops in the game, but one of the top overall players in the game period.  Bogaerts is currently in the second year of a six year - $120 M contract extension signed before the 2019, a deal which was considered team friendly at the time.  Now, with several of his fellow shortstops primed for free agency after the 2021 season, the deal could be shaping up to be an absolute steal. 

In this week’s Red Sox Column to be Named Later, I look at Bogaert’s contract situation and how the market could change drastically in the offseason.  I also revisit the numbers on the Franchy Cordero/Andrew Benintendi trade, and check in with another former Red Sox outfielder on how he’s faring in the National League.  Finally, we’ll ID who is trending up and who is trending down for the Red Sox over the past week, and take a look ahead at the upcoming schedule.

Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe

X Gon' Give It To Ya

After going 0 for 3 in Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Orioles in Baltimore, Bogaerts’ average sat at .349, still good for fifth best in the major leagues.  He also currently leads the MLB with 45 hits.  Bogaerts also ranks tenth in the majors in slugging percentage (.985), and sixth in doubles (6).

Bogaerts numbers against other major league shortstops are even more impressive.

Category                      Rank   

Average - .349              1st

Hits - 45                       1st        

Doubles - 10                 T – 1st

Home runs – 7              T – 3rd

Runs – 21                     4th

RBI – 20                       T – 3rd

OBP - .396                   2nd

SLG - .589                    1st

OPS - .985                    1st

 

The signing of Bogaerts to the six-year contract extension prior to the 2019 season was one of the last and best moves by former Red Sox Vice President Dave Dombrowski.  The deal was considered to be team friendly at the time, and with Bogaerts’s emergence as one of the top hitters in the game, his $20 M per year salary is one of the best values in baseball.  The AAV currently ranks 37th in the major leagues, though it does trail only the Mets Francisco Lindor and Padres Fernando Tatis Jr. for shortstop salaries.  

Since Bogaerts signed his contract extension in 2019, he has seen teammate Mookie Betts traded to the Dodgers before last season began, and Betts subsequently sign a monster 12 year - $365 M deal.  Bogaerts also saw Lindor, considered one of the best shortstops in the game, traded by the Indians two years prior to becoming a free agent, and the Mets rewarded Lindor with a 10 year - $341 M deal, and Tatis, sign a 14 year - $340 M deal, setting the benchmark for future contracts for marquee shortstops.

While Bogaerts deal still ranks third among major league shortstops in AAV, that is expected to change drastically after the 2021 season.  The Astros’ Carlos Correa is slated to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.  Correa and Lindor are considered 1A/1B for major league shortstops, and if Correa hits the open market, it’s easy to envision his deal eclipsing the deal signed by Lindor.  While Lindor and Correa may be considered better overall shortstops because of their defensive prowess, are they $15 M per year or more better than Bogaerts?

To further complicate matters, a number of other quality shortstops are also slated to hit the open market this coming offseason.  Colorado’s Trevor Story (currently fourth in SS salary), Toronto’s Marcus Semien (fifth), and the Cubs Javier Baez (seventh) will all be unrestricted free agents, as will the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and the Braves Andrelton Simmons.  With the exception of Semien, all are in the 26 to 28 year old range, and are about to enter the prime of their careers.

With that many quality free agent shortstops on the market, it’s a good bet two or three will pass the $20M AAV threshold, leaving Bogaerts’ grossly underpaid by comparison.

While Bogaerts is signed through 2025, the contract includes a potential opt-out after the 2022 season.  He chose to sign the team friendly extension in 2019 because he reportedly liked playing in Boston and wanted to secure his future.  Will that continue when he sees other shortstops inking more lucrative deals?

The Red Sox still have time to evaluate the situation before deciding if they will risk Bogaerts exercising his opt-out and leaving after the 2022 season.  J.D. Martinez deal will also expire after the ‘22 season, and the Red Sox will not want to risk losing two of their middle of the order bats.  With Martinez’s money coming off the books, could the Red Sox offer Bogaerts a sweeter deal to keep him from exploring free agency?  Or will they decide to redistribute the funds toward Rafael Devers, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2023 season?

Bogaerts has also assumed a leadership role on the team, and with the retirements of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, is now unquestionably the face of the franchise.  Red Sox fans should hope his desire to play in Boston continues for several more years to come.

 

With More Precincts Reporting

A couple of week’s ago we reported on the early returns for the winner of the Andrew Benintendi/Franchy Cordero trade.  At that time, Cordero held a slight advantage.  Now, with more precincts reporting and mail-in ballots being counted, Benintendi has surged ahead to a sizeable lead.

On April 24th, Benintendi was slashing .194/.270/.284 with no extra base hits and only one RBI.  Since that day, Benintendi has rediscovered his stroke, slashing .357/.413/.548 with a pair of homers.

Cordero, on the other hand, has struggled mightily and was in danger of being demoted to AAA Worcester before Kik√© Hernandez landed on the injured list and Cordero busted out with a three hit game in the finale of the Tiger series.  Cordero is now at .169/.234/.211, and has yet to homer in a Red Sox uniform.  In addition, his defense in left field has been less than stellar. 

Manager Alex Cora has expressed confidence in Cordero, but if Jarren Duran gets off to a hot start in Worcester, the calls for Codero’s demotion will get louder with everyone eager to see if Duran can make the jump to the majors.

And speaking of former Red Sox outfielders….

 

Junior Achievement

Like Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, Jr., did not get off to the best of starts with his new team in Milwaukee.  Unlike Benintendi, Bradley has yet to turn it around.  He currently has a slash line of .182/.244/.347, though he has homered three times and driven in six.  Of course, Bradley will ultimately get red-hot for two or three weeks and bring his average up into the .230 to .250 range, while continuing to play outstanding defense in center field.  Can we expect the same from Franchy?

 

Trending Up

Don’t look now, but Red Sox catcher Christina Vazquez is heating up again.  Last week, Vazquez batted .444 (8 for 18) with a pair of doubles and six RBI.  He also showed his versatility, playing both first and second base last week with the Red Sox bench shorthanded with injuries to Hernandez and Christian Arroyo.

Marwin Gonzalez has also finally begun to heat up, going 9 for 27 for the week while playing all four infield positions and left field in six games played, and batting leadoff, sixth, and seventh in the order.

Also on the upswing is right-fielder Hunter Renfroe.  Renfroe went 8 for 27 (.296) on the week, with a pair of homers and six RBI, while turning in some fine defensive players in right field.

 

Trending Down

Red Sox pitching is beginning to show some chinks in their armor.  Most notably, Nathan Eovaldi has run into trouble in his last two outings. Eovaldi has allowed seven earned runs in his last two starts, with opponents batting .262.  In his last start against Detroit, Eovaldi was cruising early but suddenly lost it in the fourth inning and was unable to get out of the fifth before surrendering six runs to the lowly Tigers.

Austin Brice – 2 IP, 6 ER, 27.00 ERA – Brice gave up four earned runs in 1/ 3 of an inning in Tuesday’s win over Detroit, which the Red Sox won 11-7, but it shouldn’t have been that close.  Called in to pitch with an 11-4 lead in the eighth inning in Baltimore on Saturday night, Brice couldn’t finish the game, allowing two earned runs before being bailed out by Josh Taylor with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

 

Look Ahead

After the Red Sox complete the rare four-game wrap-around weekend series with the Orioles on Monday night, they return home to face the AL West leading Oakland A’s in a three game series.  The A’s season has gone on a similar path to the Red Sox this season.  They got off to an 0-6 start, but then won fourteen of their next fifteen games.  They are now 21-15, two games ahead of the Astros in the West.  The Series will also mark the return of old friend Mitch Moreland, who has played primarily in a DH role for the A’s, with four homers in 13 RBI on the season.

The A’s will be followed into Fenway by the L.A. Angels, which means the best player on the planet, Mike Trout, will be coming to Fenway for the first time in two years.  Trout leads the majors with a .376 batting average, .488 on base percentage, and .713 slugging percentage.  The Angles also have one of the most exciting players in the game in starting pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani. 

Despite having two of the best players in the game, the Angles are once again in last place in the AL West at 15-18.  They rank 28th in the majors in team ERA (5.12) and dead last in opponents runs scored.  With the Red Sox currently leading the majors in batting average and runs scored, there should be a lot of runs scored at Fenway this weekend.


Follow Bill on Twitter @BTravers_SYN


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Boston Sports Syndicate: RSCTBNL: Xander Bogaerts Is Not Just One of the Best Shortstops In the Game; Will He Be Paid Like One?
RSCTBNL: Xander Bogaerts Is Not Just One of the Best Shortstops In the Game; Will He Be Paid Like One?
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