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The Red Sox could find another player to be their shortstop, but Xander Bogaerts is the most productive option available and he is a proven commodity in Boston. Steven Senne/Associated Press

Xander Bogaerts made perhaps the easiest decision of his life on Monday afternoon, when he officially opted out of his team-friendly contract with the Red Sox to become a free agent for the first time in his career.

Bogaerts, 30, has been the most productive offensive shortstop in baseball for the last five years. Since 2018, his .880 OPS is clear and away the best among qualified MLB shortstops, while he was also a Gold Glove finalist this year for his consistent work with the glove.

The Red Sox had been enjoying his services at $20 million a year, at least 30% less than what other top-tier shortstops are paid, and swiftly opted out of the remaining three years, $60 million on Monday.

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, who previous said that extending Bogaerts would be the Sox’ first order of business this offseason, did not respond to the Boston Herald’s request for comment.

Bogaerts walks into free agency with a career .292 average and .814 OPS to go with four All-Star selections, four Silver Sluggers and two World Series rings while serving as the franchise’s all-time leader at games played at shortstop.

Where do the Sox go from here?


There are really only a few options to keep them from losing a large chunk of their fanbase. Let’s put this simply: if the Sox do not re-sign Bogaerts and do not sign either Aaron Judge or Trea Turner, they let their fanbase down.

It’s really not that complicated.

Signing Carlos Correa, the next-best free agent shortstop behind Turner and Bogaerts, would represent something close to a lateral move. But to go from Bogaerts to Correa just because Correa is two years younger and has more range at shortstop would be an insult to a fanbase that has seen Bogaerts out-produce Correa at the plate, stay on the field in a way that the injury-prone Correa has not, and has handled the pressure and expectations in Boston while serving as a clubhouse leader during the franchise’s ups and downs over the past decade.

Dansby Swanson is another great shortstop on the market, but he’s not Bogaerts, and once again we’d be asking why the Red Sox sacrificed their own franchise player to get a little younger and a little bit less good.

Newer isn’t always better in baseball. The trend of moving on from franchise players for the sake of efficiency is an annoying one for modern sports fans whose appreciation for a hometown player must often be short-lived.

Teams are looking for any advantage they can get, and in the big data era, they’ll often say goodbye to a homegrown star because they can get a younger one at a slightly-more efficient price.


The Red Sox can find ways to win without Bogaerts, there’s no denying that. Correa or Swanson would be fine replacements, for sure. But are the Sox really going to let their most beloved player since David Ortiz leave town because they think Correa or Swanson could be a slightly-more efficient way of spending money?

You better believe it. You better prepare yourself for it. This is how modern sports works.

There are a few teams who don’t behave so strictly in the name of efficiency. The Yankees under Brian Cashman have almost always brought back their beloved franchise players, and it’s why most in the industry believe Judge will be staying in the Bronx this year. The Mets under new owner Steve Cohen appear interested in having the same reputation, which is why most believe they’ll bring back Jacob deGrom.

But most teams don’t behave based on loyalty or clubhouse relationships or players’ connections with the fanbase.

That’s why there are really only a few options for the Red Sox if they care about keeping their fans happy: re-sign Bogaerts or land one of the big fish, Judge or Turner.

Turner is the only shortstop out there who is clearly a more valuable player. He’s an elite baserunner, excellent defender and a dynamic leadoff hitter who hits for power and is the only shortstop since Derek Jeter to have a lifetime average of at least .300. He’s a proven winner who won a World Series with the Nationals and has played big games in a big market with the Dodgers over the last two years.


To sign Turner over Bogaerts might hurt, but it would be a reasonable thing for a contending team to do.

To use that money on Judge, the best hitter on the planet right now, and steal the Yankees best player – who could complain about that?

Otherwise, the Red Sox are gambling that their brand is bigger than any one player.

Replacing Bogaerts with a younger, cheaper, “more efficient investment” would be a slap in the face to fans whose loyalty shouldn’t be taken for granted.

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