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Xander Bogaerts admits frozen free-agent market may affect his future plans

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Xander Bogaerts admits frozen free-agent market may affect his future plans

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Xander Bogaerts finds himself in a peculiar position this season.

It’s the Red Sox shortstop’s contract year, which seems to have snuck up on everyone. Including himself.

"Time flies," Bogaerts said Friday at JetBlue Park. "Winning a World Series my first time, it took a while to win another one, but I think my years in the big leagues have passed by so quick, especially contract-wise. Sometimes it's a bit unreal that all this time passed and so quick.”

The last couple of free agency periods, especially this current one, haven’t been encouraging in the slightest for players on the verge of hitting the market. Somehow, superstars Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Craig Kimbrel remain unsigned. That has players across the league, including Bogaerts, concerned.

"I don't know man. I'm not buddies like that with them [Harper and Machado],” he said. "I don't talk to them like that so I have no idea. But that's also weird. Coming into this year those were the main guys that everyone was talking about and they still don't have teams yet. I don't know the reasons for them, I don't know any contract offers they have or anything. But it's weird, it's weird.”

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When asked whether witnessing the slow, uncertain free-agency market has caused him to rethink his approach to extension talks, Bogaerts acknowledged that it crosses his mind.

"You obviously have to think about that," Bogaerts said. "We're all baseball players and want to do well and take care of our family in the future. But those are big names man, big names that came into this year hoping, and everybody was expecting, to get all this money and stuff like that. Those are the main free agents still out there so you just don't understand how it happens like that. I don't know if they have any offers or what, I don't know. But it's a bit not nice that those two big guys don't have deals yet.”

Bogaerts also admitted it’s difficult picturing himself in a uniform other than a Red Sox one.

“Is it hard? I mean, yeah, because this is all you know,” he said. “Coming up through the minor leagues, the Red Sox obviously were the team that signed me. That means a lot to me and my family.”

In what was one of the most productive seasons of his career to this point, Bogaerts slashed .288/.360/.522 with 23 home runs and 103 RBI in 2018. The Red Sox would be best suited to lock up their homegrown shortstop long-term, and given all the negativity surrounding free agency, they’re in an ideal position to do that before the end of the year.

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Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

As the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLS prepare to resume play in the near future, Major League Baseball still can't get out of its own way.

MLB reportedly rejected the Players Association's proposal Wednesday for a 114-game season in 2020 and apparently doesn't plan to make a counter-offer.

The league and the players have refused to budge on the issues dividing them: Players don't want to take an additional pay cut after agreeing to prorated salaries in March, while the owners are wary of extending the season too long due to the coronavirus pandemic and want players to agree to further reduced salaries to mitigate lost revenue.

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That stalemate has cost MLB valuable time, however, as the league doesn't appear close to beginning its 2020 regular season as the calendar turns to June.

So, who's to blame here? Lou Merloni believes it's everyone involved.

The former Boston Red Sox infielder ripped into both the league and the union Wednesday night during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston.

"Both sides suck, OK? That's the bottom line," Merloni said. "The Players Association comes back and says, 'Not 82 (games), we want 114' when they know that's the non-starter. The owners don't want to sit there and play until November. They're worried about the pandemic; they've got to get the playoffs in. And then the owners come back and say we're not even going to counter?

"Jesus, we're like a month into this thing. Can you string this thing out (any longer)? How about go in one room together and try to figure this out in a day or two?"

Compounding MLB's issue is that the NBA is expected to announce a return-to-play plan Thursday that would resume the 2019-20 season in late July. The MLS and NHL also have made headwinds toward resuming their seasons this summer -- which means baseball is wasting a much-needed opportunity to showcase itself as the only active pro sports league.

"I mean, you're running out of time and you're only screwing yourself. Even if baseball does come back, people have already said, 'I've had enough of you.' It's been like a month, a year, and you guys talk and bitch about this thing publicly. I don't give a crap anymore. I've got hockey, basketball, football is around the corner, hell, soccer is around the corner. I'm good.

"They don't even realize it! It's like they're in this bubble and they don't even realize what's going on around them right now. Figure this thing out: 70 games, 65, prorated (salaries), start playing some baseball, because your ass better be first coming back. If not, people are going to be done."

There's reportedly some optimism that the players and the union will resolve their differences and put a return plan in place. But with nearly one-third of the season already lost, the clock is ticking.

Check out Merloni's full comments in the video player above.

Who are the best designated hitters in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best designated hitters in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

There's only one choice for best designated hitter in Red Sox history, but just in case there's any doubt, we'll quote broadcaster Dave O'Brien with the signature call from his WEEI days: "DAVID ORTIZ! DAVID ORTIZ! DAVID ORTIZ!"

No sense in even pretending there's any suspense on this one.

What's fascinating about ranking the Red Sox DHs, however, is just how few of them have actually held down the position for any length of time over the years.

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Only nine players have made at least 200 appearances there with the Red Sox since the DH was introduced in 1973, and four of them — Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, and Manny Ramirez — have already appeared elsewhere in our outfield rankings.

That leaves five men to fill out the list, and about the only difficult omission is slugger Jose Canseco, who made 184 appearances between 1995 and 1996.

Click here for the Top 5 DHs in Red Sox history.