It's not often that a Scott Boras client makes headlines for taking a hometown discount, but Xander Bogaerts isn't your average baseball player.
Bogaerts made it clear that he wanted to stay in Boston long-term before signing a six-year, $120 million extension in 2019 that may have set him for life financially, but didn't exactly set any new records for a player entering his prime.
Not to worry, because Boras didn't become the most powerful agent in sports history without planning ahead, and he made sure to leave an escape hatch -- if Bogaerts blossomed into a superstar, he'd have an opportunity to be paid like one.
Bogaerts took care of the superstar part in 2019 by blasting a career-high 33 homers and 117 RBIs en route to his first top-five MVP finish. And now the payday part is drawing near. Bogaerts can opt out of his contract after next season, when he'll have just turned 30. It's fair to say there's been a seismic shift atop the shortstop market in the two years since he put pen to paper.
Last week, Fernando Tatis Jr. made history by signing a 14-year, $340 million contract with the Padres, who aren't messing around. Rather than take their chances annually in arbitration or attempt to buy out a year or two of free agency with an extension, the Padres locked up the 22-year-old through his age-35 season. There's a chance he'll be a Padre for life.
The implications for Bogaerts are immense. Next year's free-agent shortstop class should be epic, even if All-Star Francisco Lindor reaches a long-term extension with the Mets first. That still leaves Colorado's Trevor Story, Houston's Carlos Correa, the Cubs' Javier Baez, and former Rookie of the Year Corey Seager in L.A. vying for massive deals.
A year after that, Bogaerts would headline the class. And even if a 30-year-old won't be in line for a Tatis-like contract, especially given the attrition at the position, there's no reason to think he couldn't score a substantial raise over the $20 million a year he's making now.
So what does Bogaerts think of Tatis's deal?
"Obviously, he got a boatload of money," Bogaerts said. "It's good for him, good for his family. He's definitely one of the most talented players in the game as of right now, especially bringing in his age factor. He's so young and so good. All he needs to do is just stay healthy and let those abilities continue to develop and take over. We'll see how that goes when that time comes, but it's something good for the shortstop class that comes up this year and hopefully all of them get paid the way they want to and help out themselves and also their families."
Left unsaid, of course, is what a booming shortstop market could mean for Bogaerts. While he has proven his loyalty to the Red Sox over the last eight years, he'll also be well-positioned in the fall of 2022 to evaluate Chaim Bloom's rebuild. Does he want to enter his 30s unsure of the direction of the team and its ability to compete, or will he be sold that the glory days of 2013 and 2018 are about to return, giving him the opportunity to fit a third finger for a World Series ring?
That's what's called a position of strength, and barring injury, Bogaerts will be occupying it.
"I haven't even been thinking of that yet," Bogaerts said. "It's so far down the road. But obviously it's a lot of money, you know, and much deserved. Some would say (Tatis) deserved even more. But when that times comes, we'll go over that and see how that works. But as of now, I remember when I signed, I was like, it's such a long time before I would be a free agent again. Now, it's like, some topics that are bouncing around, the opt-out and stuff like that. Like I said, times comes by quick, it flies quick, and the time you have to make a decision sometimes comes even quicker than you anticipated."
That time isn't quite now, but let's just say that Bogaerts is on the clock -- which means so are the Red Sox.