Red Sox

Bogaerts talked extension; Betts says deals "tough to come up with"

Bogaerts talked extension; Betts says deals "tough to come up with"

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — The mystery player the Red Sox talked to about an extension earlier this offseason was Xander Bogaerts, multiple sources said. The conversations never heated up or brought the sides close to a deal, but the Red Sox and Bogaerts’ agency, Scott Boras’ camp, did engage on the matter.

Bogaerts can become a free agent after this season and quietly had a tremendous year in 2018, one that probably slipped under the radar as Mookie Betts became the MVP and J.D. Martinez had a hit seemingly every night. The shortstop hit .288 with a .360 on-base percentage, .522 slugging percentage and 23 home runs.

Bogaerts and the Sox recently avoided arbitration by settling on a one-year, $12 million contract.

NBC Sports Boston previously reported the Red Sox were talking to a core player about an extension, but it wasn’t clear who. Some in the industry speculated at the time it was Andrew Benintendi, Benintendi said Saturday he hasn’t had talks with the team, and sources have confirmed Bogaerts was, in fact, the player.

Whether the Sox get a deal done with any of their top players remains a matter to watch this winter. Chris Sale confirmed at Winter Weekend that he’s open to an extension.

“My phone is on if they call me,” Sale said. "Obviously, nothing has happened up until this point. If they call, I’d answer.”

The Red Sox are being and have been very forward that they want to keep Mookie Betts, as well as their other stars.

“He’s the exact type of player you want to have on your team, not just from what he does on the field but off the field,” Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “He’s such a great person and we’d love to have him be a Red Sox for his entire career. Certainly understand, you try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, he’s going to want to see what the market looks like and understand that. But we’ve made it crystal clear that we want him a part of the Red Sox organization long term. 

“I don’t know why a player would ever want to play anywhere else other than Boston. That comes from a very biased person. I’m a Bostonian. But you look around at the fan support, you look at this ownership group. The commitment to winning, the great history and tradition. Talk to a lot of alums who have been here and gone other places. And I just, I think a lot of ‘em wish they had stayed in Boston and finished their careers here. We’re now approaching a 20-year run of an era in Boston sports unlike any other in the history of professional sports. This is where you want to be.”

Said Bogaerts on the outlook from here: "I mean, always if both sides can get to an agreement to a point...I don't see no wrong with that. But I mean if the price is right, I guess, for both sides, I think it's always fair enough for anyone who's open to talk."

As for Betts, the reality may be simple: get to the market, and see what’s out there, or maybe take a deal from the Red Sox if it appears to be equivalent to what he would get on the open market. At this point, with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado both unsigned, it’s hard to know exactly how high Betts value could go when he's a free agent after the 2020 season.

“Contract things are kind of tough to come up with, especially with both sides and kind of how the economics and all those things work,” Betts said Saturday. “I love Boston, love my teammates, love the fans and all those types of things, so we’ll just continue to see what happens.”

Betts made clear he knows how free agency appears to be unfolding, but at the same time, said nothing that indicates he wants to avoid it, or that he thinks it’s anything other than his best route.

“It’s not just those two, there’s a lot of good guys still out there that haven’t signed,” Betts said. “Kind of cross that bridge as we come to it. There’s a lot of good guys that are unsigned, and there shouldn’t be.”

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has said he prefers to get extensions before the regular season, be it in the offseason or spring training. Asked if he sees talks with the Sox coming soon, Betts said he lets his agents handle it.

Sox owner John Henry noted on Friday that extensions for younger players seem less prevalent these days.

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Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox

Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are still eagerly awaiting the results of an MLB-led investigation into sign-stealing that has marred the team and league over the course of the past two months.

The allegations against the Red Sox led to the departure of manager Alex Cora amid the scandal. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros have been hit with some harsh penalties for a sign-stealing scandal of their own. They fired their manager, A.J. Hinch, and Cora was a part of his staff in 2017 when the alleged acts began.

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That said, the MLB's delays in the investigation of the Red Sox have led some to believe that the league may not find much. And in a recent interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, former Red Sox second baseman, Ian Kinsler, said that the MLB wouldn't find "anything close to what's going on (in Houston)."

"I don’t know what (the league) is going to find, but in my opinion, it’s not anything close to what’s going on (in Houston), Kinsler said, as transcribed by MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo. “The Red Sox were just a very tight-knit group. When I was injected into that team in the middle of the season, it was a lot like the Rangers clubs I was on, where it was just a very tight-knit group and their system was flawless. They just had a very good system of relaying from second base to home plate. That was it. Honestly. We’ll see what happens with the commissioner’s report.”

This is the most that any Red Sox player has said about the allegations to date, and with good reason. Kinsler is retired, so he doesn't stand to lose anything by going out and saying these things.

That said, while Kinsler's depiction of the Red Sox sign-stealing is far from damning, he did acknowledge that while watching his previous at-bat on tape, he would check out the signs to see if he could crack them.

“If there’s a video and you’re going to check out your at-bat and while you’re checking out your at-bat, there’s a runner on second base also, and you look through your at-bat to see your personal flaws and what you’re trying to fix for the next time… I’m going to go back again and check out the signs and see if I can crack them,” Kinsler said. “If I can, I can. If I can’t, I can’t.”

That's somewhat of a gray area, as all MLB teams have access to this tape in-game. So, it will certainly be interesting to see what the MLB rules on this aspect of the allegations and what they may do to curb in-game video usage going forward.

But as Kinsler said, he doesn't think that the Red Sox are going to get anything more than "a small punishment," as the league won't find anything "substantial".

“I’m interested to see what happens with this whole report because I truly believe they’re not going to find anything that’s substantial,” he said. “They might throw a small punishment out there because they did a report. I don’t know. I don’t know where they stand on this whole thing. We saw where they stood on the Astros thing. I just really don’t see any form of punishment coming to the Red Sox. It was a very good team.”

Brock Holt: 'I never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform'

Brock Holt: 'I never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform'

Brock Holt has left the Boston Red Sox, but it certainly doesn't seem like he wanted to.

The super-utility player became a free agent and the Red Sox opted not to re-sign him as they looked to cut costs ahead of the 2020 season. So, Holt, who turns 32 in June, lingered for a while on the free-agent market after seven seasons with the Red Sox before ultimately agreeing to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.

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And in an interview after arriving at the Brewers camp in Arizona, Holt spoke about wanting to remain in Boston and never expecting to go anywhere else in his career.

"I was with Boston for so long and I honestly never expected to wear any other uniform but a Red Sox uniform," Holt said in a video captured by Scott Grodsky. "I loved it there. I loved playing at Fenway, I loved the fans, I loved the city. I was a huge part of the community so it was tough for me to come to the fact that I wasn't going back.

"But like I said, everything happens for a reason. I'm excited to be here."

Holt's former Red Sox teammate Travis Shaw, who played for the Brewers from 2017 to 2019 before signing this offseason with the Toronto Blue Jays, helped convince Holt to join the Brewers.

“[Holt] actually reached out to me about a week or two ago saying that the Brewers had some interest and that they were starting to talk,” Shaw told The Wisconsin Sports Zone radio station. “He was just asking about how the organization was and I gave him nothing but positive things.

“Brock is one of my favorite teammates that I’ve ever played with," Shaw said. "He keeps it loose in the clubhouse. Obviously he is a great player, he can play all over the diamond, but just his presence in the clubhouse and in the dugout, he keeps things loose and he keeps things fun.”

Holt was a fan favorite and a great force in the Red Sox locker room and community. He will certainly be missed by the team, and it is fair to wonder why Sox management decided not to at least try to match the one-year deal Holt got from Milwaukee. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Holt made $3.575 million with the Red Sox last season.

After all, they opened up some room under the luxury tax by trading Mookie Betts and David Price. So, why not use some of that to re-sign Holt?

Holt will now suit up for the Brewers and as he communicated to reporters, he is very much looking forward to playing at Fenway June 5-7 when the Brewers visit for an interleague series.

And he's sure to get a warm welcome when he returns.