Here are 7 potential landing spots for Bogaerts
With the Winter Meetings set to begin Sunday in San Diego, we're taking a close look at some of the most prominent players who are free agents.
Name: Xander Bogaerts
Team: Boston Red Sox
Age (as of Opening Day 2023): 30
2022 stats: .307/.377/.456, 15 HRs, 73 RBIs, 84 R
In most years, Bogaerts would have an argument to be considered the top free agent on the market. In 2022, he’s not even the best option at his own position.
For the second straight offseason, the free-agent shortstop market is loaded, with Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson joining Bogaerts on the star-studded list of players seeking new deals.
Bogaerts has been a consistent performer for the Red Sox since 2016, posting a .295/.365/.480 slash line with four seasons of 20-plus home runs. His OPS has exceeded .800 in six of those seven seasons, helping him earn All-Star selections in four of the six Midsummer Classics played during that time.
The Red Sox were never realistically going to reach an extension with Bogaerts prior to his opt-out at the end of the 2022 season, but Boston has made it clear that it would like the relationship to continue into 2023 and beyond.
Will it happen? The shortstop market is robust this winter, with more than a half-dozen teams looking to add at the position. Do the math: four star shortstops and six to eight suitors means that some clubs will come up empty in the game of free-agent musical chairs, putting Bogaerts and his peers in position to cash in.
Boston has made Bogaerts its top priority for the offseason, but the Red Sox will have to pay the price to retain their All-Star shortstop. With Rafael Devers’ contract expiring at the end of 2023, the Red Sox will have a similar issue to contend with next offseason if they’re unable to work out an extension. Most industry insiders still consider Boston to be the favorites to sign Bogaerts.
Turner appears to be the Phillies’ top target, but he’s expected to command a significantly larger contract than Bogaerts. If Turner doesn’t land in Philadelphia, expect Dave Dombrowski -- who was Boston’s president of baseball operations from 2015-19 -- to make a play for Bogaerts.
With Turner likely headed elsewhere, the Dodgers must decide what to do at shortstop. Should Los Angeles go big and sign Aaron Judge? The club could move Mookie Betts to second base and slide Gavin Lux to shortstop, but it seems more likely that the Dodgers would explore the shortstop free-agent market.
Wait, the Padres? Ha-Seong Kim emerged as a top defensive shortstop in 2022, while Fernando Tatis Jr. will return from his suspension in late April. Tatis could move to the outfield if San Diego signed Bogaerts (or any of the other shortstops), while Kim could become a valuable utility player. When it comes to Padres general manager A.J. Preller, you never say never.
Chicago has been linked to the entire shortstop market, making Bogaerts a potential target. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer was part of Boston’s front office when Bogaerts signed with the organization, while manager David Ross was Bogaerts’ teammate in 2013-14.
Like some of the clubs listed above, the Giants have a different No. 1 target: Judge. But the Yankees are making a push to re-sign the American League MVP, which would force San Francisco to pivot. Brandon Crawford will be a free agent next winter and could move to second base in 2023 if the Giants went big at shortstop. All indications are that San Francisco is prepared to spend significant dollars this offseason, putting Bogaerts -- and pretty much every other free agent -- in play.
Last year’s signing of Correa was somewhat surprising, but the Twins are back in the shortstop market now that Correa has opted out of his deal. Minnesota is trying to retain Correa with a sizeable deal, but if the Twins are unable to keep him, they could be in the market for one of the other free-agent shortstops.
“Bogaerts is an All-Star-caliber shortstop with the offensive skills and the ability to hit in the middle of the lineup. A balanced hitter with a whole-field approach, Bogaerts is able to hit for average and power. There is solid foot speed, which also contributes to the high average and on-base skills. Defensively, the actions and arm strength fit, but the range is something to be monitored as he ages and could necessitate a move to third base. The decrease in power production this year is a little concerning for a player who may potentially be moved off shortstop several years down the line. However, the team that lands him in free agency is purchasing a winner who has the ability to contribute on both sides of the ball.”
Bogaerts rated well in Outs Above Average (plus-5, 88th percentile) in 2022, but he had posted negative OAA in five of the prior six seasons, the lone exception coming in 2017, when he was listed at plus-1. Bogaerts also posted a 46.6 percent ground-ball rate in 2022, his highest since 2017, while his hard-hit percentage, average exit velocity and barrel percentage were all in the lower half of the league.
FOR COMP’S SAKE
Marcus Semien was heading into his age-31 season when he signed his seven-year, $175 million deal with the Rangers last offseason, so Bogaerts -- who just turned 30 in October -- has age on his side in this comparison. Semien had a 45-homer season on his résumé that Bogaerts does not, but their seven-year stretch prior to free agency is remarkably similar.
Bogaerts (2016-22): 946 games, 136 home runs, 551 RBIs, .845 OPS, 123 OPS+
Semien (2015-21): 935 games, 152 home runs, 447 RBIs, .776 OPS, 111 OPS+
Given his age and slightly higher production, it’s likely that Bogaerts will exceed Semien’s deal, making a contract in excess of $200 million a strong possibility.