FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If there's one word that describes Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, it's proud. Proud of his Aruban heritage. Proud of what he has accomplished with the Red Sox. Proud that he's not only an All-Star, but a leader.
There's something else Bogaerts is particularly proud of and maybe most of all: being a starting major league shortstop. There are only 30 of them, give or take, and Bogaerts embraces the fact that he has manned the position every day since 2015. He wears No. 2 in honor of childhood idol Derek Jeter, and he foresees himself playing the position for a long time, just as Jeter did for 20 seasons in New York.
So it should come as no surprise, then, when Bogaerts addressed his future and the possibility of moving to second base, that a different word would be used to describe him.
Speaking to the media for the first time in Fort Myers on Tuesday, Bogaerts made it clear that he doesn't envision himself playing anywhere except short, and he sounded hurt that the subject would even be raised in the wake of rumors -- which in fairness qualify as little more than media speculation -- that the Red Sox could sign shortstop Carlos Correa and move Bogaerts to the other side of second base.
"Oh you guys came with that one, huh?" Bogaerts said with a wry smile. "Bro. I'm a shortstop, man. That's where I've played my whole career. Obviously it's a position I take a lot of pride in. If you look at my numbers, they've been pretty good for these years. I like being there. That's it."
Maybe that's it, but maybe it's not. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is still figuring out how to upgrade the roster and a natural area of interest could be second base, where incumbent Christian Arroyo produced when healthy last year, but injuries limited him to just 57 games.
Tomase: Breaking down Sox roster as spring training begins
If Bloom wants to target a free-agent shortstop like Correa or Colorado's Trevor Story, Bogaerts could be asked to move to second. The three-time All-Star made it clear that those conversations have not yet happened, and added that the rumors are a fact of life.
"Sometimes it's like I don't even know if I'm on the team," he said. "It's like, 'Hey, I'm here.' But what are you going to do? You guys have stories to write and have more info than us as players have. It's out of my control, I can't do much about it. But it's like, 'hey, I exist, I'm here.' It is what it is."
There is precedent for an All-Star-caliber shortstop to move to second and get paid. Toronto signed Marcus Semien from Oakland last offseason to a one-year deal, moved him to second, and watched him blast 45 homers. He was rewarded with a $175 million contract from the Rangers.
Bogaerts did not see that deal as relevant to his situation. He can opt out of his contract and enter free agency after this season. If he gets there, he plans to do so as a shortstop.
"I haven't thought of that," he said. "Why would I think of playing second or third if I'm playing short? I don't see any sense in that. Just going out there, playing shortstop and trying to get better, especially on the defensive side."
It's understandable that Bogaerts would want to stay at short from both a pride perspective, but also a financial one. Semien's significant haul still pales in comparison to the $325 million those same Rangers lavished on Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager.
"Seager, I don't know him on a personal level, but he's definitely one of my favorite shortstops," Bogaerts said. "So it's nice to see him get that. He's been a great player for a while with the Dodgers. I mean, they're setting the market pretty different."
Bogaerts added that he's open to negotiating an extension with the Red Sox this spring, as he did in 2019, when he signed for six years and $120 million -- a contract that now qualifies as a bargain. He's not interested in negotiating during the season, and he's keenly aware that fellow shortstops Francisco Lindor and Fernando Tatis Jr. have also cashed in for over $300 million.
"I'm at spring training and I got a deal done a couple years ago at this time," he said. "You never know what can happen. But when the season starts, I want to focus on helping the team at that point and try not to worry about those type of talks. If something is going to get done, it's going to get done now. But those guys are getting what they've been playing at that level for."
The reason this is even coming up is because Bogaerts consistently grades as one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball, at least via advanced metrics. He ranked 35th among 36 shortstops in outs above average, with his issues almost entirely ones of range. He passes the eye test because he's sure-handed and possesses an accurate arm, but he doesn't cover as much ground as an elite shortstop, particularly in the hole.
Tomase: Why J.D. Martinez believes he could be traded this season
Of course, Bogaerts provides exceptional value offensively, where he's one of the best hitters in the game, regardless of position. A four-time Silver Slugger, he believes the sum of his skills provide value.
"I just know all the balls hit to me, I get them out and I hit pretty decent," he said. "It all depends what shortstop you want. Do you want someone who can play extremely good defense and hit so-so? It's all about what you want. I would obviously want to be a better defensive player and have better numbers."
For all he has accomplished, he has reason to feel proud. We'll know soon enough if the Red Sox share a desire to keep him at the position where he has forged his professional identity.