Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts issue is a tough one for the team

Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox star shortstop Xander Bogaerts can opt-out of his contract at the end of this season, and this presents a tough issue for the team. Bogaerts is an All-Star caliber player hitting .330 this season with six home runs and a healthy 35 RBIs to go with it. Bogaerts also has two other factors that limit Chaim Bloom and the front office’s maneuverability: first, he has a no-trade clause in his deal; and second, Scott Boras is his agent.

This leaves the Boston Red Sox in what we used to call a “pickle”.  That’s a tough spot. Unless Bogaerts agrees to a trade deadline deal, their hands are effectively tied. The only option, unless they want to let him go for free in free agency, would be to cave and sign him to a big extension that the team may not really want to offer him. That’s assuming he’d even accept the offer without testing the market.

This puts Bloom and company in a very tough position. He has the very real risk of losing a cornerstone player, a popular and very good player, for the compensation of maybe a paltry second-round draft pick. Let’s take a look at his predicament.

Chaim Bloom and the Boston Red Sox have a huge dilemma on their hands in Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts’ current contract looks like this,

"The current contract is fundamental, covering six years and $120 MM, and the average annual value is $20 MM, also the luxury tax salary. One contract line jumps out, a full no-trade, after seven years of service time. A thank you to agent Scott Boras."

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic explains the compensation situation on Bogaerts this way,

"… If there is no agreement (on an international draft by July 25th, which would get rid of the qualifying offer) and there still is a qualifying offer system, he would get slapped by the Red Sox with a QO, and that has a potential drag on his market. But it also from a Red Sox perspective ensures they would get some form of compensation, and that form would be a draft pick. …"

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That’s not much value for a player of Bogaerts’ pedigree and that’s why this is such a “sticky wicket” for Bloom. He’s between a rock and a hard place. If he caves and delivers a monster contract (if that is even an option with the new, more shall we say “thrifty”, Fenway Sports Group owners), you’re looking at what could be called an “albatross” contract.

That’s a deal that will hang around the team’s neck for a decade and will almost certainly be regrettable, as most long-term deals in baseball are. Yet, on the plus side, you get to retain your star player who, barring major injury, will likely perform for a good portion of the deal.

Yet, nonetheless, it’s a roll of the dice. You’re betting the farm on the hope that he remains uber-productive and that no major injury appears too soon, making the return on investment truly lamentable.

The other options aren’t very good ones either. You can let him opt-out, test the market, and either possibly match any high offer or just punt, let him leave, and take a draft pick. Alternatively, you can appeal to the player and seek to have him waive his no-trade clause and seek a deal before the August 2nd trade deadline. That seems unlikely to happen.

On the plus side, however, there is some good news. Whatever situation eventuates that has Bogaerts leaving, you won’t be lacking a shortstop. Trevor Story, last offseason’s top signing, is ready and able to step right into that void.

And while two top players in the middle infield are always preferable to one, Story at short isn’t a bad fallback position at all. And frankly, isn’t it about time that one of the club’s draftees or other farm hands is able to step into a starting role for a change and produce? Indeed.

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So, there’s the dilemma for Chaim Bloom. This is one of the downsides of a team caving in on deals that contain the dreaded opt-out clause (although that wasn’t Bloom’s fault here). Paying more annual dollars for fewer years with no such clause is a preferable way of doing business. Yet, until and unless the team does that, they’ll have to deal with such issues periodically.

Looking ahead, the Boston Red Sox will have another tough contract situation to deal with after next season barring an early extension for star third baseman, Rafael Devers. Oh well, guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks. After all, no one said this stuff is easy.