There were few bigger stories of last offseason than Xander Bogaerts’ free agency. A career-long member of the Red Sox, he opted out of the final three years and $60MM on his deal with Boston to test the open market. That came six months after Spring Training extension talks had gone nowhere, setting the stage for Bogaerts to join the Padres on a stunning 11-year, $280MM contract at the Winter Meetings.
Bogaerts recently addressed the end of his time in Boston with Chris Cotillo of MassLive. He expressed disappointment with the Red Sox’s initial extension proposal last spring. Jon Heyman of the New York Post first reported at the time that Boston had offered four years and $90MM — one year and $30MM in new money — for Bogaerts to preemptively forego his opt-out chance. It was a surprisingly light offer that turned out to be well below Bogaerts’ open market value, one with which the All-Star shortstop wasn’t satisfied.
“The one in spring training was a little tough. I think it’s well-documented what the offer was,” Bogaerts told Cotillo. “That was a tough pill to swallow at that time because you’re hearing about extension talks so you’re looking forward to seeing what they’re thinking and what they’re offering. That was a tough one.”
The sides halted talks during the season but reengaged at the end of the year. Boston brass maintained at the outset of the offseason that keeping Bogaerts was their top priority. They indeed moved quite a bit from their extension offer, reportedly putting forth a proposal in the six-year, $160MM range during the winter. That was at least in the realm of general expectations at the start of the offseason — MLBTR predicted Bogaerts at seven years and $189MM at the start of the winter — but came up well shy of San Diego’s winning bid. Free agent prices for star talent exploded last winter and it seemed clear by the Winter Meetings that Bogaerts would surpass $200MM, though few would’ve foreseen a team nearing $300MM.
“Way off,” Bogaerts said of Boston’s final offer. “They felt the way they felt. They did what they did. I have no bad feelings for them. I’ve seen multiple great players come through that organization who I’ve played with and they’re not there anymore. Some guys went from pretty untradeable to tradeable. That was eye-opening. It makes you see things differently, for sure.”
It indeed seems clear the Red Sox weren’t as bullish on Bogaerts’ long-term projection as the Padres were. Boston had an in-house replacement to step in at shortstop after signing Trevor Story to a $140MM guarantee two offseasons ago. Those plans were scuttled, at least early in 2023, when it was revealed Story required an internal brace procedure to address a ligament issue in his throwing elbow. That pushed Enrique Hernández in from center field to man shortstop, though Adam Duvall’s wrist fracture could force Hernández back into center field more frequently.
Boston made another huge investment in the left side of the infield later in the winter. The Sox agreed to a $313.5MM extension with third baseman Rafael Devers in January. Devers is four years younger than Bogaerts and has been an even better hitter than the star shortstop. It’s not hard to see why the Boston front office considered Devers the safer long-term investment, even as Bogaerts plays the more demanding position and assuaged some concern about his glove with solid defensive marks last year.