Why keeping Xander Bogaerts is Red Sox best option

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Xander Bogaerts
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Xander Bogaerts /

Coming off a down 2017 season and with free agency looming, should the Boston Red Sox trade Xander Bogaerts this offseason?

Boston.com’s Chad Finn asks this question about the Boston Red Sox shortstop and comes down on the side of keeping him.

"I say keep Bogaerts, unless an exceptional player who is cheaper and less risky than (Giancarlo) Stanton is part of the return. And that’s probably not happening."

Finn is correct that the return for Bogaerts is unlikely to be both a sure thing and a bargain. But a 25-year-old shortstop with a pair of 4+ WAR seasons should still draw strong offers. He’d be a clear upgrade for contenders and wannabes such as Arizona, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Minnesota. Given his youth, he might also spark interest from rebuilding clubs such as San Diego or Detroit.

The challenge would be finding a trade partner with both interest in Bogaerts and players who fulfill Boston’s needs. Stanton would provide the fearsome middle-of-the-order bat this lineup lacked last season. But his injury history, not to mention the presence of Marlins current 3+ WAR shortstop Dee Gordon, makes this a debatable fit.

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 09: Andrew Benintendi
BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 09: Andrew Benintendi /

Andrew McCutchen and Miguel Cabrera are likely available power hitters, but neither are better nor less risky than Stanton. Miguel Sano would appeal, but since he won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season, it’s doubtful Minnesota would trade him now.

What about Will Myers? The former Top 10 prospect has blossomed into a perennial 30-30 threat for San Diego and is, himself, just 26 years old. He is also, however, terrible defensively. His -7.7 UZR was 5th worst last season. And his annual salary soars past $20 million after 2020.

Tough Act to Follow

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Still, even if the right return were offered, the Sox would also have to find an able replacement. Even Xander’s down 2017 season was good enough to rank 8th overall among shortstops in Fangraphs WAR. Of the players above him, only 32-year-old free-agent-to-be Zack Cozart is likely available. And let’s not forget that Bogaerts also previously ranked 6th and 2nd in the category in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

In other words, Xander Bogaerts is already good. Really good, in fact. Probably better than most of us cynical Boston Red Sox fans realize. And given his youth, baseball IQ and history, he should only get better. With his prime years still to come, he may even find himself among elites such as Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa competing for MVP trophies in the coming seasons. And that’s the kind of player you build around, not sell low on. Even if Scott Boras is his agent.

Next: What the Boston Red Sox offseason blueprint should be

The Verdict

I agree with Finn on this one. Unless Dave Dombrowski gets a Godfather offer, the Boston Red Sox should keep Xander Bogaerts and find that power hitter (J.D. Martinez?) someplace else.