What could make someone like Xander Bogaerts walk away from a guaranteed $60 million? The chance to make at least three times as much certainly helps.
That’s the no-brainer case for Bogaerts, who opted out of his remaining three years with the Red Sox — leaving the $60 million on the table — to become a free agent. Opting out almost always was going to be Bogaerts’ decision, of course, unless his play or health really fell off the table in the seasons leading up to this winter.
Bogaerts on Thursday won his fifth career Silver Slugger for a season in which he hit .307 with an .833 OPS. He was a nearly six-win player by Baseball Reference’s wins-above-replacement formula. He has missed a grand total of 41 games over the last four seasons.
Neither his play nor his health dropped off, so here we are.
The questions now are obvious: Which team will sign Bogaerts, and how much will it cost them to do so?
With free agency upon us, ’tis the season for predictions and projections. Everyone has an opinion, some more informed than others, and we took a look around the worldwide web for trusted resources forecasting free agency.
For the sake of the exercise, we’re looking just at contract projections to get an idea of what it might cost to sign (or in Boston’s case, re-sign) a player like Bogaerts.
For what it’s worth, McDaniel said there was still some uncertainty in the market as to what Bogaerts could land, though he also said it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get that seven-year deal. If we simply bump up McDaniel’s projection to seven years, it becomes identical to the Bowden number.
So, on the high end of things, it averages out to roughly seven years and $199.5 million — or $200 million if you like round numbers. It’s about $28.5 million per season, so a six-year pact under the same rate would be $171 million over the course of the deal.
Again: The decision to opt out was as obvious as it gets.
Without any of the other shortstops (Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson) signing for a higher annual rate, Bogaerts at $28.5 million would make him the 16th-highest-paid player by AAV behind Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton, right ahead of Bryce Harper.
For reference, per Spotrac:
Manny Machado — $32 million
Giancarlo Stanton — $32 million
Alex Bregman — $30.2 million
Shohei Ohtani — $30 million
Jose Altuve — $29 million
Kris Bryant — $28 million
Bryce Harper — $27.5 million
Chris Sale — $27.5 million
As far as shortstops go, Corey Seager and Francisco Lindor reset the market last season at $35.5 million and $34.1 million, respectively, for the 2023 season. Turner and Correa might surpass those this winter, while Bogaerts and Swanson are likely to slot in right behind them.
From strictly a WAR (Fangraphs) perspective, Bogaerts finished fourth among all big league shortstops last season behind only Lindor, Swanson and Turner. Correa wasn’t far behind at ninth in the midst of what many would consider a down year.
Only Turner and Lindor were worth more wins over the course of Bogaerts’ most recent deal (2019 through 2022).
This really is just a long way of saying Bogaerts is going to get a sizable raise (duh), one that he deserves, especially relative to the market and his production within that market.