Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts comments on potential of losing Red Sox teammates in offseason

Xander Bogaerts comments on potential of losing Red Sox teammates in offseason

The tone around the Red Sox is a lot different these days than a year ago. In 2018, Boston had secured the best record in baseball and was well on their way to a World Series championship. Now, they will finish the 2019 season with a Sunday afternoon game against the Orioles. 

After winning a World Series, it was a relatively easy decision to bring back free agents Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce while agreeing to contract extensions for Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts. Following a disappointing season marred by inconsistency, adding to the league's highest payroll with a brand new front office doesn't sound very likely. 

Xander Bogaerts was asked after the Red Sox' penultimate game of the regular season Saturday about the pending free agent decisions this new front office, whenever it's filled, will have to make and acknowledged the possibility of losing some key players.  

"Obviously, there’s a lot of rumors on a lot of stuff," Bogaerts said. "I’m not in charge of any of those, those aren’t my decisions. I love each and everyone that's on this team. We've had some great memories throughout the years, and seeing some faces that might leave will be tough and we'll see what happens."

J.D. Martinez (option), Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland and Rick Porcello headline the Red Sox' list of free agents for 2019. Mookie Betts' impending contract extension will likely impact Martinez's future with the club, especially with ownership promising that the team will slash down the payroll to avoid further luxury tax payments. 

At the very least for the Red Sox, Bogaerts is signed for the next six years and Boston is reportedly preparing to offer Rafael Devers a contract extension as well. If they let Martinez go in favor of Betts and retain Devers, that's still a formidable core to couple with players like Christian Vazquez, Michael Chavis and hopefully Jay Groome down the line.

Developing a farm system that Dave Dombrowski sold off will most likely be the priority for the Red Sox moving forward. 

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The next Red Sox GM should build around these five players

The next Red Sox GM should build around these five players

The defending MVP? No. The former Cy Young winner? Nope. The seven-time All-Star who just averaged over 13 strikeouts per nine innings? Uh-uh.

The question is whom I want back for next year's Red Sox. And the answer is kind of surprising, once you parse it and realize your list only includes five names.

The exercise crystallizes just what kind of challenge awaits Dave Dombrowski's successor as the Red Sox enter a period of bridging/rebuilding that could get ugly.

I wouldn't call any of the following "untouchable" because I don't believe in that concept. But they're the last guys I'd want to move if I were evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the roster: Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Brandon Workman.

That means no Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, David Price, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Nathan Eovaldi, to name just a few. Money plays a central role in these rankings, especially if the Red Sox are serious about corralling their runaway payroll. That's why Betts, an otherwise obvious fit, is a no for me, because it's going to cost $300 million to keep him.

First off are two obvious names: Bogaerts and Devers. They're the present and future of the organization, with one already signed to a reasonable long-term contract and the other a candidate for an extension.

Bogaerts has emerged as a heart-and-soul player, and his six-year, $120 million deal makes him a bargain. He has already topped 30 homers and 50 doubles while playing virtually every day, and he should finish above .300 for the second time in his career, too. He is a foundational piece not just on the field, but in the clubhouse, and the Red Sox are lucky to be able to build around him.

He has taken a particular interest in Devers, the supremely talented 22-year-old who is posting the kind of numbers (.307-31-112-.910) that suggest he could one day challenge for a Triple Crown. Devers remains under team control through 2023, but at some point the Red Sox will undoubtedly broach the subject of a long-term extension. He is already a monster offensively, but with considerable room to grow.

An offense built around young stars would be the envy of most teams, but this one could benefit from a veteran presence, and that's where Martinez enters the picture. The Red Sox don't suddenly need to become a small-market team, but they'd be wise to start limiting their long-term commitments after tying up too much money in Price ($217 million) and Sale ($145 million), in particular. Martinez can opt out of the final three years and roughly $62.5 million remaining on his contract, but he's at an age (32) and position (DH) where he shouldn't command more than four years on the open market.

It may be old-fashioned to say that Martinez's presence allows other hitters in the lineup to flourish, but it's true. Like David Ortiz before him, Martinez commands respect in the middle of the lineup, and as long as he's around, Bogaerts and Devers won't feel the same kind of pressure to produce. Add his very specific skills as a clubhouse hitting guru, and Martinez is worth keeping.

If only we could say the same about any of the overpriced starters. Price will undergo surgery to remove a cyst from his wrist that might solve all his problems, but if the Red Sox could get out from under the final three years and $96 million remaining on his contract, they wouldn't ask twice.

Sale, meanwhile, is still awaiting a follow-up visit with Dr. James Andrews after shutting it down for the final six weeks because of elbow soreness. And even if Eovaldi feels strong heading into the offseason, he remains not only injury-prone, but wildly inconsistent.

E-Rod, however, keeps establishing himself as a legit top-three starter. Still only 26 years old, the lefty has finally delivered his breakthrough campaign, going 18-6 with a 3.53 ERA while averaging more than a strikeout per inning. Maintaining this momentum in 2020 will be a challenge, but he's the one starter I'd bet on at the moment.

Workman seemed an unlikely candidate to be labeled indispensable when the season started, especially since he was only a few months removed from being left off the World Series roster. But the 31-year-old has inexorably transformed himself into one of the game's most uniquely dominant relievers.

Detractors point to his high walk totals and reliance on a curveball as proof that he's just a one-season gimmick, but doing so ignores (a) his 13 strikeouts per nine, and (b) the fact that his fastball is regularly hitting 95 mph again.

Workman has the makeup and stuff to serve as the last line of defense, but the flexibility and selflessness to set up if the Red Sox add a closer. Whatever role he fills in 2020, I just know I want him on my team.

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Rafael Devers sets Red Sox record for home runs by a third baseman

Rafael Devers sets Red Sox record for home runs by a third baseman

In another disappointing loss in a disappointing Red Sox season, Rafael Devers continues to make history.

Saturday, in the Red Sox' second consecutive 5-4, walk-off loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, Devers added the Sox home run record for third baseman to his resume.

The 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic brought the Sox back from a 3-1 deficit with a two-run homer in the eighth inning with an opposite-field shot to left - his 31st of the season - surpassing Butch Hobson's Red Sox mark of 30 in 1977.

Per the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham, Devers met Hobson, a Sox third baseman from 1975-80 who also managed the team from 1992-94, this past January at the Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods, but he said he was unaware he had set the record until being told after the game. 

“No, this is actually the first time I’m hearing this,” Devers said through his interpreter after the game, “It’s pretty cool, but obviously it’s a record I broke now but there’s more records I want to continue to break. So it’s just about trying to stay healthy and moving forward, try to break as many records as I can.”

Devers (.307, 50 doubles, 112 RBI) is just the second third baseman in Major League Baseball history with a 30-homer, 50-double season (the Astros' Alex Bregman did it last season) and he and Xander Bogaerts are the first teammates to reach the 30-50 mark in the same season.

Bogaerts (.305, 51 doubles) hit his 32nd homer and drove in his 110th run Saturday, putting himself in Devers' in more exclusive company. 

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