As expected, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has officially opted out of his contract, as the MLB Players Association announced (via Twitter) that Bogaerts was among the latest players to join the free agent market. Bogaerts will leave the final three years and $60MM of his deal with Boston to look for a larger contract on the open market.
There was never much suspense over Bogaerts’ decision, as an opt-out always seemed pretty likely even from the moment the shortstop signed the six-year, $120MM extension back in April 2019. Bogaerts just turned 30 years old last month, and he’ll surely command far beyond three years and $60MM in his first taste of the free agent market.
Perhaps the only question surrounding the opt-out was whether or not the Red Sox would make it a moot point, by agreeing to another extension with Bogaerts. However, extension talks back in the spring reportedly saw Boston make a surprisingly small offer of only an extra season and another $30MM added to Bogaerts’ current contract. As of a month ago, Bogaerts said the two sides hadn’t had any other further negotiations, though it’s probably safe to assume that some talks did take place, given how chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom stressed that Bogaerts was Boston’s top priority heading into the offseason.
The Red Sox still retain exclusive negotiating rights with Bogaerts until free agency officially opens on Thursday. While the two sides have shared mutual interest in Bogaerts’ continued future in Boston, it would be awfully surprising to see the two sides agree to a new deal so close to the opening of the market. Once other teams can speak to Bogaerts, it remains to be seen whether the Sox will outbid other suitors, or if they’ll perhaps explore other shortstop options after 10 seasons with Bogaerts at Fenway Park.