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Tomase: Peace of mind from Red Sox may have unlocked Bogaerts

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Xander Bogaerts

All Xander Bogaerts needed was a little peace of mind.

Because he has experienced so much over his decade in Boston, it's easy to forget that Bogaerts has never had to deal with trade rumors.

A foundational player who signed a team-friendly extension in 2019, Bogaerts never had any reason to think he could be headed out of town and the Red Sox had no reason to consider the possibility.

Then came 2022 and the Great Reckoning, with the Red Sox slipping in the standings, the MLB trade deadline rapidly approaching, and a host of potential free agents just sitting on the roster wondering if their days in Boston were numbered.

Tomase: As trade deadline nears, these Chaim Bloom comments are telling

A disconcerted Bogaerts found himself chief among their ranks. Unable to come anywhere close to agreeing on a contract extension before the season, he uncomfortably wondered if this campaign would be his last in a Red Sox uniform.

CEO Sam Kennedy clearly had other ideas. He told WEEI that Bogaerts' name had not been mentioned in trade talks, and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom not only reiterated the point, he made the case directly to Bogaerts.

On Thursday night, they might've seen the payoff, with Bogaerts launching his first home run since July 5, a three-run blast in a 4-2 victory over the Guardians that kept the Red Sox from losing another series and gave the front office one more data point to point in the direction of buying at the trade deadline rather than blowing everything up.

 

The sample size is small, but since Kennedy revealed on Tuesday that Bogaerts wouldn't be traded, the All-Star shortstop has gone 5 for 9 with a homer and four RBIs, as well as some of his loudest contact in weeks.

"I think I started playing better after that, right?" Bogaerts said. "It's a little, I don't want to say relief is the word, but obviously more relaxing.

"It's not like you want to win every game on your own. We're a whole team, everybody can win the game. But I just feel like it makes you more free. This is the first time dealing with it. I know a couple years ago with the 2020 season, I mean, COVID on its own was a distraction. This is my first time really, really dealing with this. It's been up and down. But it's been good."

Even more meaningfully to Bogaerts was Bloom's personal reassurance.

"I don't know if I should say that," he said. "I hope I don't get in trouble. It's much better like that. Communication is always huge in everything. So getting the feedback is beneficial. I would say that's the word."

Lost in the team's slide from top wild card spot to last place in the AL East has been Bogaerts' role in the struggles. Over his first 20 games in the team's disastrous July, Bogaerts hit just .257 with one homer and a .680 OPS, making some of the softest outs of his career.

This comes with it. It can be really tough. Some days more than others.

Bogaerts on his name being mentioned in trade rumors

Even with Trevor Story and Rafael Devers sidelined and J.D. Martinez hobbled by a bad back, the Red Sox can remain in the hunt until reinforcements arrive if Bogaerts carries them, but he hasn't been that player. Perhaps this week's message will allow him to regain that form, which could in turn convince the front office to invest in a team that looked dead in the water last year, too, before cranking up the engines.

Rumor season has taken a toll, Bogaerts admitted.

"It has," he said. "But we're professionals in the end. You sign up for this. You have to deal with it. This comes with it. It can be really tough. Some days more than others.

"Get this thing over with and keep rolling with the boys, because I know we have a lot of help coming on the way. That's like a trade deadline on its own. You've got Story, Raffy, Kiké (Hernández) and (Christian) Arroyo not too far away. Obviously we need J.D. back because J.D. is a game-changer."

 

Bogaerts would still welcome reinforcements.

"I feel like help is always better," he said. "If we can get an upgrade in anything, it's always better for the team. I guess that's why teams make trades also. They go and get guys that they feel can help the team in the long run and short run.

"But anytime we can get help, we saw it with (Kyle) Schwarber. I don't want to talk about last year but he was amazing for us. If we get someone, we're not asking him to be amazing, but it was special last year."