Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts talked extension; Betts says deals "tough to come up with"

Bogaerts talked extension; Betts says deals "tough to come up with"

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — The mystery player the Red Sox talked to about an extension earlier this offseason was Xander Bogaerts, multiple sources said. The conversations never heated up or brought the sides close to a deal, but the Red Sox and Bogaerts’ agency, Scott Boras’ camp, did engage on the matter.

Bogaerts can become a free agent after this season and quietly had a tremendous year in 2018, one that probably slipped under the radar as Mookie Betts became the MVP and J.D. Martinez had a hit seemingly every night. The shortstop hit .288 with a .360 on-base percentage, .522 slugging percentage and 23 home runs.

Bogaerts and the Sox recently avoided arbitration by settling on a one-year, $12 million contract.

NBC Sports Boston previously reported the Red Sox were talking to a core player about an extension, but it wasn’t clear who. Some in the industry speculated at the time it was Andrew Benintendi, Benintendi said Saturday he hasn’t had talks with the team, and sources have confirmed Bogaerts was, in fact, the player.

Whether the Sox get a deal done with any of their top players remains a matter to watch this winter. Chris Sale confirmed at Winter Weekend that he’s open to an extension.

“My phone is on if they call me,” Sale said. "Obviously, nothing has happened up until this point. If they call, I’d answer.”

The Red Sox are being and have been very forward that they want to keep Mookie Betts, as well as their other stars.

“He’s the exact type of player you want to have on your team, not just from what he does on the field but off the field,” Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “He’s such a great person and we’d love to have him be a Red Sox for his entire career. Certainly understand, you try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, he’s going to want to see what the market looks like and understand that. But we’ve made it crystal clear that we want him a part of the Red Sox organization long term. 

“I don’t know why a player would ever want to play anywhere else other than Boston. That comes from a very biased person. I’m a Bostonian. But you look around at the fan support, you look at this ownership group. The commitment to winning, the great history and tradition. Talk to a lot of alums who have been here and gone other places. And I just, I think a lot of ‘em wish they had stayed in Boston and finished their careers here. We’re now approaching a 20-year run of an era in Boston sports unlike any other in the history of professional sports. This is where you want to be.”

Said Bogaerts on the outlook from here: "I mean, always if both sides can get to an agreement to a point...I don't see no wrong with that. But I mean if the price is right, I guess, for both sides, I think it's always fair enough for anyone who's open to talk."

As for Betts, the reality may be simple: get to the market, and see what’s out there, or maybe take a deal from the Red Sox if it appears to be equivalent to what he would get on the open market. At this point, with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado both unsigned, it’s hard to know exactly how high Betts value could go when he's a free agent after the 2020 season.

“Contract things are kind of tough to come up with, especially with both sides and kind of how the economics and all those things work,” Betts said Saturday. “I love Boston, love my teammates, love the fans and all those types of things, so we’ll just continue to see what happens.”

Betts made clear he knows how free agency appears to be unfolding, but at the same time, said nothing that indicates he wants to avoid it, or that he thinks it’s anything other than his best route.

“It’s not just those two, there’s a lot of good guys still out there that haven’t signed,” Betts said. “Kind of cross that bridge as we come to it. There’s a lot of good guys that are unsigned, and there shouldn’t be.”

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has said he prefers to get extensions before the regular season, be it in the offseason or spring training. Asked if he sees talks with the Sox coming soon, Betts said he lets his agents handle it.

Sox owner John Henry noted on Friday that extensions for younger players seem less prevalent these days.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts headline Red Sox arbitration-eligible players

mookie_betts.jpg
File Photo

Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts headline Red Sox arbitration-eligible players

The clock is ticking for the Red Sox.

The defending World Series champions have until 1 p.m. Friday to exchange salary figures with their remaining group of arbitration-eligible players or come to terms on new contracts. Boston has already agreed to terms with Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, and Steven Wright, leaving a group of nine players, headlined by reigning A.L. MVP Mookie Betts, waiting for their new deals.

The most interesting case is sure to be Betts, who still has two arbitration-eligible seasons left before he hits free agency. Last year, the Sox lost his arbitration hearing despite a somewhat interesting strategy and had to pay him $3 million more than their proposed figure of $7.5 million. 

Here's a quick rundown of the players still looking for a 2019 contract along with their projected salaries, per MLBTradeRumors.com.

MOOKIE BETTS
2018 Stats: .346 average, 32 HR, 80 RBI, 30 SB
2018 Salary: $10.5 million
Projected 2019 Salary: $18.7 million

XANDER BOGAERTS
2018 Stats: .288 average, 23 HR, 103 RBI
2018 Salary: $7,050,000
Projected 2019 Salary: $11.9 million

JACKIE BRADLEY, JR.
2018 Stats: .234 average, 13 HR, 59 RBI
2018 Salary: $6.1 million
Projected 2019 Salary: $7.9 million

EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ
2018 Stats: 13-5 record, 3.82 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
2018 Salary: $2,375,000
Projected 2019 Salary: $4.8 million

BROCK HOLT
2018 Stats: .277 average, 7 HR, 46 RBI
2018 Salary: $2,225,000
Projected 2019 Salary: $3.4 million

SANDY LEON
2018 Stats: .177 average, 5 HR, 22 RBI
2018 Salary: $1,950,000
Projected 2019 Salary: $2.3 million

MATT BARNES
2018 Stats: 6-4 record, 25 holds, 3.65 ERA
2018 Salary: $605,000
Projected 2019 Salary: $1.5 million

BRANDON WORKMAN
2018 Stats: 6-1 record, 3.27 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
2018 Salary: $835,000
Projected 2019 Salary: $1.4 million

BLAKE SWIHART
2018 Stats: .229 average, 3 HR, 18 RBI
2018 Salary: $563,500
Projected 2019 Salary: $1.1 million

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Red Sox owe $12 million in luxury tax, showing why they'd want to shed payroll

Red Sox owe $12 million in luxury tax, showing why they'd want to shed payroll

Wondering why the Red Sox would consider trading key contributors such as Rick Porcello and Jackie Bradley Jr.? This might be a big reason why. 

According to the Associated Press, the Red Sox owe around $12 million in luxury tax payments after having the highest payroll in baseball this past season. The Nationals are the only other team to pay the tax, but their total was down around $2 million. 

The Red Sox will also face a new penalty. Because they were $40 million over the luxury tax threshold ($197 million), their first pick in the 2019 MLB amateur draft will be dropped 10 places (From 33 to 43). For a team with a somewhat depleted farm system, those spots matter. 

So, when rumors persist that the Red Sox would consider trading Porcello, who is owed $21 million next year, or Bradley, who has two years left on his contract,  or shortstop Xander Bogaerts, a free agent like Porcello after 2019, avoiding another luxury-tax hit might explain why.

It is not uncommon for this organization to find itself over the tax. According to AP, the only other champions besides the '04, '07 and '18 Red Sox to owe the tax were the '09 Yankees and '16 Cubs. 

With next year's free agency period featuring Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, if he opts out, and Chris Sale, the Red Sox have some important decisions to make with their payroll construction. Whether they will be able to keep this group together remains to be seen. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE