Bogaerts on Story: 'He's a big bat'

March 20th, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Entering Sunday, the Red Sox had been in a splash-free zone during this frenzied period of transactions during Spring Training.

But it didn't take long for things to stay that way.

Star shortstop Trevor Story agreed to a six-year, $140 million deal with Boston on Sunday morning, a source told, giving the Sox a dynamic talent in his prime.

And now that Story has chosen Boston, he's expected to switch positions for this season, considering that team leader Xander Bogaerts is entering his 10th season of holding down shortstop for the Red Sox.

Speaking of Bogaerts, he said before Story reached a deal that he would be a big fan of adding the two-time All-Star to an already powerful lineup.

“He’s a big bat. We know what he does defensively already. I think that bat would play really well at Fenway just with that short porch over there,” said Bogaerts. “He has a nice swing that’s kind of built for that. It would be nice if we could get an addition like that after some of the big names that we lost to free agency or traded away. That’s a big boy. That’s a big bat right there. That’s an impact player.”

Bogaerts acknowledged it is unique having the Hot Stove play out during Spring Training. Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Matt Chapman, Kyle Schwarber and Matt Olson are just some of the big bats who have gone to new teams in recent days.

“This year is different with the lockout so a lot of moves are getting done in Spring Training, late. Some of the big names are still out there,” said Bogaerts. “It’s very different. Everything feels like it’s a big rush. Everything will hopefully take care of itself.”

“Still working,” said Cora, when asked of Boston’s approach to roster building with less than three weeks before Opening Day. “We’re still talking to people. We’re still recruiting.”

The Red Sox are coming off a 92-win season which also included a thrilling win over the Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game, a four-game takedown of the 100-win Rays in the AL Division Series and a hard-fought loss in six games to the Astros in the AL Championship Series.

Since last season ended, Boston lost lefty starter Eduardo Rodriguez (signed with the Tigers) and two key offensive contributors in Schwarber (signed with the Phillies) and Hunter Renfroe (dealt to the Brewers).

Boston has added two veteran starters who could help immediately in Rich Hill and Michael Wacha, and one the team hopes will play a big role down the stretch in James Paxton. They also added back Jackie Bradley Jr.’s elite outfield defense in the trade with the Brewers involving Renfroe.

Bogaerts and manager Alex Cora both said Friday they’d be comfortable going into the season with the current roster, though neither would complain about more reinforcements either.

“This is who we have [right now],” Bogaerts said. “This is what we’re going to go with. I feel like we have a lot more pitching. Our pitching depth is pretty good. We have a lot of guys in the Minor Leagues that are anxious to get a chance, guys who did pretty well in the Minors these last couple of years.”

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has been preaching the balance between the present and the future since he took over in the fall of 2019, and Bogaerts can already see some of the fruits of that approach.

“Our farm system is built pretty solid at the moment,” Bogaerts said. “We have some solid names up in the big leagues. We did a great job last year. It was so much fun. Hopefully we can be able to do something like that again.”

“I think we’ve got a good baseball team,” said Cora. “I think pitching-wise, we're good, and the offense, like I always say, we’re going to hit. Right now, if we have to roll a lineup out there, I feel very comfortable.”

Though Chris Sale will miss at least the first month of the season with a stress fracture in his right rib cage, the lefty ace figures to see far more action than in 2021, when he didn’t debut until mid-August while making his return from Tommy John surgery.

Even before the Story deal, the offense had three big boppers in Rafael Devers, Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez, and a table-setter in Kiké Hernández, who emerged as an increasing force for the final three months of the regular season and took it to another level entirely in the postseason. Bobby Dalbec, who walloped his second Spring Training homer in as many days on Friday, could be primed to be the season-long force many projected he would be a year ago.

Add Story to that mix, and the Red Sox would suddenly generate a lot more buzz than they’ve been getting lately.

Not that it’s always about the buzz.

“Nobody thought the Giants were going to win [107] games last year, so you have to show up and do work. And so far I've been very pleased with three days of work,” said Cora. “One of the things I learned over the years is that it really doesn't matter what people think. You still have to show up and play and you’ve got to get better. This is a new season. We learned a lot about the group. There are some guys in that clubhouse that you see them now compared to last year and there's a presence about them.”