Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has officially opted out of his contract and is now a free agent, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced earlier Monday morning.
Bogaerts had until Tuesday to decide if he would opt out of the remaining three years and $60 million of the six-year, $120 million extension he originally signed in April 2019. The Boras Corp. client was expected to opt out and the Red Sox will now extend him a $19.65 million qualifying offer within the next three days.
In the same way that he declined to opt in to his deal, Bogaerts is also expected to turn down Boston’s qualifying offer by the November 20 deadline. Since they exceeded the $230 million luxury tax threshold this season, the Red Sox would receive a compensatory 2023 draft pick that falls after the fourth round if Bogaerts were to sign elsewhere this winter.
With that being said, the Red Sox can negotiate exclusively with Bogaerts until Thursday. The right-handed hitting infielder is coming off an impressive 2022 campaign in which he batted .307/.377/.456 with 38 doubles, 15 home runs, 73 RBIs, 84 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 57 walks, and 118 strikeouts over 150 games (557 plate appearances). He finished third in the American League batting race and was named a Gold Glove Award finalist for just the second time in his 10-year career.
On the heels of such a productive season, Bogaerts has put himself in position for a promising payday that would far exceed the $60 million left on his original deal. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman projects that the 30-year-old All-Star net an eight-year, $225 million deal in free agency this offseason. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo adds that Bogaerts could seek a shorter-term deal with a higher average annual value.
Either way, Bogaerts has joined a talented free agent class at shortstop that includes the likes of Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson, and Trea Turner. He also joined Nathan Eovaldi, Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, Matt Strahm, and J.D. Martinez as members of the 2022 Red Sox to elect free agency.
Since their season ended last month, the Red Sox have made it clear that they would like to have Bogaerts back in 2023 and beyond. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom described re-signing Bogaerts as a top priority during the club’s end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park. They are now on the clock to prove as much.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)