Depending on when the World Series ends, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is expected to opt out of the remainder of his contract and become a free agent by next Wednesday at the latest.
Bogaerts initially signed a six-year, $120 million extension to remain with the Sox ahead of his age-26 season in 2019. The deal went into effect in 2020 and afforded the Boras Corp. client the opportunity to opt out after three years if he wanted to test the open market at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
Now 30 years old, Bogaerts has put himself in position for a promising payday this winter that would far exceed the $60 million remaining on his current deal. In 150 games this season, the right-handed hitter batted .307/.377/.456 with 38 doubles, 15 home runs, 73 RBIs, 84 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 57 walks, and 118 strikeouts over 557 plate appearances.
Though the power numbers were down from where they usually are, Bogaerts still finished third in the American League Batting race behind the Twins’ Luis Arraez and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge. He also had a stellar year defensively and was named a Gold Glove Award finalist for just the second time in his 10-year career.
Even before Opening Day in April, the Red Sox — knowing full well that Bogaerts was likely to opt out — made it known that they wanted to keep their All-Star shortstop in Boston long-term. Whether it came from manager Alex Cora, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, or president and CEO Sam Kennedy, it seemed as though the club was intent on bringing Bogaerts back for 2023 and beyond.
During the team’s end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park on October 6, Bloom emphasized that extension talks with Bogaerts were the top priority and were “going to start right away.” That same day, Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal reported that Bogaerts had met with Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner several times before heading home to Aruba.
Since then, however, it does not appear that talks between the two sides have gained much traction. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported on Thursday that “barring an 11th-hour extension — which a source familiar with the talks considered unlikely as of last week — Bogaerts will opt out.”
On Friday, The New York Post’s Jon Heyman projected that Bogaerts would net an eight-year, $225 million deal in free agency this offseason. The average annual value on that hypothetical contract comes out to $28.125 million, which represents a 42.5 percent raise from the $20 million he would earn over the next three seasons if he were to opt in.
An eight-year deal would take Bogaerts through his age-37 season. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, though, Bogaerts could elect to pursue a shorter-term deal that would exceed $30 million in average annual value.
Given that Bogaerts’ is slated to make more than $20 million per year moving forward, he is unlikely to accept the $19.65 million qualifying offer the Red Sox will extend to him within the next seven days. If Bogaerts were to sign elsewhere this winter, Boston would receive a compensatory 2023 draft pick that falls after the fourth round since it exceeded the luxury tax threshold this year.
With all that being said, Bogaerts is slated to be part of a loaded free agent class at shortstop that includes the likes of Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, and Dansby Swanson.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)