FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox are all Xander Bogaerts knows. And it's not just his near six years of Major League service time.Bogaerts has been under the employ of the franchise since Aug. 23, 2009, when he signed as an international free agent out of Aruba at the
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox are all Xander Bogaerts knows. And it's not just his near six years of Major League service time.
Bogaerts has been under the employ of the franchise since Aug. 23, 2009, when he signed as an international free agent out of Aruba at the age of 16. He went from a boy to a man with the Red Sox, and from a prospect to a star who will soon collect his second World Series ring. It's hard for him to picture putting on another uniform.
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But the possibility is at least topical, given that Bogaerts is entering his walk year.
"Yeah, because this is all you know," Bogaerts said on Friday. "Coming up through the Minor Leagues, the Red Sox were the team that signed me and my brother. That means a lot to me and my family. It would be weird because this is the only uniform I know. It would be."
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Perhaps it won't have to happen.
The Red Sox did engage his agent, Scott Boras, in some preliminary dialogue regarding an extension over the offseason, though it's unclear if the sides built any momentum. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski never discusses contract situations publicly.
Bogaerts would like to stay with his original franchise, and perhaps that's not surprising for a shortstop who grew up idolizing Derek Jeter and even wears his No. 2 in tribute.
"I mean, sure, I enjoy my time here," Bogaerts said. "We have something special going on right now, for the last couple years now, and I think I've been a part of it since it started. The Red Sox have treated me and my family amazing so far. We'll see what happens.
"My preference? Boston is an amazing city, man. All the sports here, all they do is win. Winning is one of the main keys for any player, and for me. I enjoy winning in everything I do on and off the field. If winning is priority, then why not?"
The way the market has moved for elite players Manny Machado and Bryce Harper has been a little unsettling for a pending free agent like Bogaerts.
"You obviously have to think about that," Bogaerts said. "We're all baseball players and want to do well and take care of our family in the future. But those are big names, man, big names that came into this year hoping, and everybody was expecting, to get all this money and stuff like that."
However, Bogaerts also acknowledges he can't let the situation Machado and Harper are in impact his decision-making going forward.
"Who knows? ... I don't know why it's like this," Bogaerts said. "I don't know. But obviously, here is a place I enjoy playing."
Bogaerts was non-committal when asked if he would negotiate an extension past Opening Day.
"I haven't thought about that. I just got here yesterday," Bogaerts said. "I'll obviously have time to think about it, but this isn't a perfect time."
Red Sox manager Alex Cora also has no interest in entertaining the thought of someone besides Bogaerts being his shortstop at this time next year.
"It's day three [of Spring Training], bro," Cora said. "I'm not even thinking about that."
Instead, Cora will contemplate ways that Bogaerts can still improve at the age of 26. One way would be to steal more bases. Bogaerts collected a modest eight in 2018, the first time he was unable to reach double digits since '14.
"I think he's one of our better baserunners. From first to third, scoring from first, but he can actually steal bases. I mean, I'm saying 20 like 20 is easy," Cora said. "You just throw a number, I guess. But he can help us out in the running game."
Defense is another area Bogaerts can still grow.
"Defensively, the way he played in the World Series, that's the guy I want to see on a daily basis," Cora said. "Actually, there was a play early in the playoffs that he took his time on. Ball in the hole, the guy was safe, and I think they scored a few runs out of that. Then he made every play. Every play. Turned double plays, balls in the hole, and I think defensively he can be a lot better.
"I'm not going to put numbers and all that because with him, it will never be fair, I think as far as like metrics. We want him to make the routine play, but there's also a few plays that we feel he can make, especially in the hole, and we're going to push him to do that."
As for his near decade with the Red Sox, Bogaerts has loved the journey and hopes he isn't nearing a final chapter.
"I see how they treat all the guys that come in," Bogaerts said. "And being here for a while, I think it's a place anyone and everyone might want to play or stay."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.