Red Sox

Red Sox

SAN DIEGO -- Xander Bogaerts was born within a week of Mookie Betts in October of 1992, but that doesn't stop him from feeling like the former MVP's big brother.

And so it is that All-Star shortstop -- named a starter on the inaugural all-MLB team on Tuesday -- finds himself conflicted about Betts' future.

On the one hand, Bogaerts wants what's best for Betts, and if that means scoring a record payday in free agency, then so be it. On the other hand, if the Red Sox decide they're not the team to pay him, then Betts could be traded this winter.

"Obviously he's been a huge part of our organization and coming up through the system, and playing so many years with him, and the type of player that he is on and off the field," Bogaerts said. "He's so good on the field, but he's just even better off the field. I know we're pretty much the same age, but I still feel like I'm his older brother by a little bit. He's one of the best players in the game. It would be sad to see him leave. Hopefully, they can find a way to work things out, but Mookie's a grown man now, and he knows what decisions are in his best interests."

What the Red Sox plan to do with Betts remains the most pressing question at the winter meetings, but they don't seem to be feeling much urgency. On Tuesday, an executive with a team that has interest in the right fielder expressed mild surprise that the Red Sox hadn't yet engaged, suggesting that the Sox aren't aggressively shopping him, at least not yet.

It's possible the market for Betts will heat up once the best free-agent position player -- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon -- finds a new home. The Dodgers have been linked to both Rendon and Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, who could be traded. If they miss out on both, Betts would be a natural target.

The same goes for the Angels, who reportedly offered right-hander Gerrit Cole nearly $300 million before he signed a record deal with the Yankees. The Angels are also reportedly in on Rendon as they look to upgrade a roster that desperately needs to add talent around MVP Mike Trout, although neither Betts nor Rendon would upgrade their biggest weakness, which is starting pitching.

Bogaerts will watch the saga unfold from afar like the rest of us, hoping against hope that the Red Sox find a way to keep the five-tool outfielder who's technically six days his junior (Oct. 1 vs. Oct. 7).

"I know there's a lot of stories, a lot of stuff being said about the team and what moves we should and shouldn't do," Bogaerts said. "I know there's a lot. I can't keep up with it all, but we'll see what happens. Once spring training comes around, we'll have a better idea obviously of where we are as a team. As of now, I'm also waiting."

And if this is it for Betts, at least Bogaerts will have one final memory. When Betts scored from first on a deflected single to walk off the Orioles on the final day of the 2019 season, Bogaerts was the first player to greet him at the plate.

"I was in that picture when he got the last run of the year last year," he said, "so that will be a nice picture if he's gone."

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