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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