If we had known in March that the Red Sox were looking at Trevor Story not as an addition, but as a replacement for Xander Bogaerts, approximately 100% of the fanbase would’ve offered an emphatic, “No thanks.”

As good as Story was during his first six big league seasons with the Rockies, to replace a franchise player who has won two World Series titles, four Silver Sluggers and has earned MVP votes in four straight seasons with Story is not a good trade.

At this point, that’s what it’s looking like.

And with the Red Sox off to an 11-20 start that has offered very little to be encouraged about, the baseball world is abuzz talking about where Bogaerts could end up if the Sox don’t turn things around in the next month or two.

They’re 11 1/2 games back of the Yankees in the American League East and it’s only mid-May. Sure, three wild cards in an expanded playoff format will allow some mediocre teams to sneak into October, but the Sox aren’t even in sniffing distance. The top six AL teams make the playoffs; the Sox are currently 14th.

Even mild improvement might not be enough to get the Sox into contention by July, when chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom will almost certainly be looking to continue his aggressive reboot of the farm system.

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The Red Sox need more than mild improvement; they need a complete makeover.

How they get there is anyone’s guess, but Bloom and Co. have been preaching patience. Their lack of aggression in roster changes backs that up. Triston Casas is still in Triple-A Worcester. So, too, is Jarren Duran. Bobby Dalbec is still on the big league roster. The fourth outfielder is Christian Arroyo. Last year’s closer for most of the season, Matt Barnes, is currently a mop-up guy.

There doesn’t appear to be any urgency, and that’s fine; calling up a top prospect into an offense that isn’t producing on a $220 million team with loads of pressure – that’s not an ideal way to break into the big leagues.

But it’s also a reminder that one player probably isn’t going to save a team that has nothing working on offense, a bullpen that’s 6 for 15 in save opportunities and a rotation that has performed well, but has $43 million tied up in three pitchers on the injured list in Chris Sale, James Paxton and Michael Wacha.

At this point, with the Sox’s playoff chances at 13%, according to Baseball-Reference, it’s more likely than not that Bogaerts and others will be traded in July.

Two years after the Sox traded one franchise player in Mookie Betts, they could soon wave goodbye to another; and their third, Rafael Devers, is just a year-and-a-half away from free agency.

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It’s a nightmare scenario that became apparent on Opening Day, Bogaerts’ deadline for contract extension negotiations. He already signed one team-friendly deal paying him $20 million a year. But he’s a $25-30 million player and a trip into free agency would prove that. He can (and is expected to) opt out of the remaining three years left on his contract after this season. He also has a full no-trade clause, but if the Sox are out of contention in July and he can go to a winning team, would he actually reject a trade?

The New York Post reported that the only extension the Sox offered was $30 million on top Bogaerts’ current contract, meaning he’d have four years and $90 million remaining.

It’s a nice offer for a kid who grew up in Aruba dreaming of making the big leagues one day; it’s an insulting offer to an MLB player with Bogaerts’ pedigree.

The industry is keenly aware of that, too.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that an A.L. executive thinks the Sox will “get overwhelmed” by an offer and trade Bogaerts this summer. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi said that it “could be realistic” that Bogaerts gets traded to the Cardinals. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden also projected a trade to St. Louis and wrote, “If their position doesn’t significantly change, then it makes sense to seek the best trade for Bogaerts because he will likely opt out of his contract after the season.”

It’s not just Bogaerts.

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Imagine the haul the Sox could get for Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi, all of whom can test free agency after the season? They have others, too, who are on expiring deals and could be traded. Among them: Wacha, Kiké Hernandez, Jackie Bradley Jr., Christian Vazquez, Matt Strahm, Rich Hill, Hansel Robles and Kevin Plawecki.

Still, if the Sox trade Bogaerts, they’re going to spend years trying to reshape their image.

Imagine being a budding star in the farm system, like Marcelo Mayer, and thinking something like, “I can win two titles, be a four-time All-Star, regular MVP candidate and the organization is still going to trade me rather than pay me a fair market wage.”

If folks had known this would be the case when the Sox signed Story, the reaction from the fanbase surely would’ve been different.

Story was supposed to be an addition, not a replacement.

Or, worse, maybe he was always a replacement.


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