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Tomase: Xander Bogaerts gave Red Sox a lifeline, and they need to use it

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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts sounds willing to give the Red Sox a second chance. Here's hoping they don't blow it.

In an interview with The Boston Globe on Sunday, Bogaerts addressed his future with the only organization he has ever known, once again sounding very much like someone who desperately wants to stay.

He can opt out of his below-market 2019 extension this fall and he'd be crazy not to, since the shortstop market has exploded in the interim. While Bogaerts is set to make $20 million next year, Fernando Tatis Jr., Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Seager will be pulling in over $30 million apiece.

That's called leverage, but the Red Sox botched this situation when they reportedly offered Bogaerts a one-year extension for $30 million, to be added to the three years and $60 million that remain on his current deal.

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When they similarly lowballed Jon Lester in 2014, he ended negotiations and they traded him at the deadline. John Henry still calls it the biggest mistake of his ownership.

With all due respect to Mookie Betts, losing Bogaerts would be No. 2, if not a new No. 1. But speaking to the Globe on Sunday, Bogaerts left the door open for the team to negotiate during the season with his agent, Scott Boras -- provided they acknowledge the market this time.

 

"I don't know how this would work," Bogaerts said. "But if they talk to Scott behind closed doors and it's something that's fair, he can come to me. We'll see how that goes."

"Fair" is the operative word, and so far chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has fallen woefully short of that threshold. Bogaerts could have justifiably quit talks for good after being offered what amounts to four years and $90 million, seeing as he might be the best offensive shortstop in the game.

Bogaerts has never once suggested he wants to leave. The Red Sox should reciprocate that loyalty.

John Tomase

Instead, he threw the team a lifeline, which is so on-brand. Unlike Betts, who made no secret of his desire to reach free agency and then presumably find a new home, Bogaerts has never once suggested he wants to leave. The Red Sox should reciprocate that loyalty.

That doesn't appear to be their inclination, however. We hear rumors about possible deals to the St. Louis Cardinals this summer, or letting him test the market in the fall. If he gets that far, kiss Bogaerts goodbye, because Bloom will never win a bidding war.

But a window exists before he hits free agency. Given his age (30 in October) and questions about his long-term viability at shortstop, he's not looking at a 10-year, $300 million contract from anyone. He has already taken a hometown discount once, and what's to say he won't be reasonable again, provided the Red Sox make him an offer that recognizes reality?

Would seven years and $210 million get it done? That's $30 million annually, takes Bogaerts into his mid-30s, and puts him in a position to be that rare player who spends his entire career with one team. It's more money than the Rangers gave Marcus Semien on a seven-year, $175 million deal this offseason, and Semien is two years older.

I fear Bloom's not interested even in going that high, if his first offer is any indication. Cost-benefit analyses are fine, but sometimes more weight needs to be given to the player's place in the city, his importance to the franchise, and the connection he helps forge with the fans. It also doesn't hurt that he'll annually contend for a Silver Slugger whether he's playing second, third, or short.

Bogaerts is just such a player, and he sounds determined to give the team a second chance it frankly don't deserve. For the love of all that is holy, at least be in the ballpark this time.