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The Red Sox could lose Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers if they don’t get serious
It’s almost the middle of May and the Sox are the cellar-dwellers of the American League East once again, 11-20 and 11 1/2 games out of first place. The culture of consistency Chaim Bloom preached when he arrived from Tampa Bay has not materialized; instead, they’ve once again flip-flopped from top to bottom.
And while the 2022 trade deadline is still months away, it’s not hard to see a team this inexplicably bad being the biggest sellers. The talent on this roster, while seriously underperforming, is overwhelming. Teams around the league will descend like vultures and leave nothing behind that isn’t nailed down. JD Martinez, Kiké Hernández, Christian Vazquez, Nathan Eovaldi, and countless others will be free agents after this year. Bloom can deal them as short-term rentals to any team that has even a slim chance of making a postseason run and beef up the farm system, rebuilding for the second time since he arrived in late 2019.
Too bad you don’t get a trophy and rings for having the best farm system.
Will Xander Bogaerts agree to a trade if the Red Sox keep losing?
Bogaerts is the only player on the active roster with a full no-trade clause, so he can veto any deal he chooses. But why should he? The Red Sox have already low-balled him once, and he’s not happy about it. Rightfully so. If you’re not going to pay your two-time World Series champion, three-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger who’s gotten MVP votes the last four years running, who will you pay?
A Rockies shortstop with overinflated numbers from playing his entire career at America’s most hitterish park, that’s who.
The Sox have the money to pay Bogaerts and Devers. They would have the money even if tens of millions weren’t coming off the books after this season. Every MLB team has plenty of money, but especially the Sox, who are valued at $3.9 billion, coming in just below the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers on Forbes’ annual list. That’s a 13% increase over last year, by the way, in case someone tries to tell you that the pandemic has been hard on the billionaires.
But instead of simply paying their best and brightest, the Sox did what they’ve done countless times since this ownership took over twenty years ago: lowball the homegrown star while throwing money at an unproven free agent. David Ortiz watched them do it for years – to Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Pablo Sandoval – while he took hometown discounts to stay. None of them lasted more than two years, and you have to wonder if Ortiz would’ve been wearing another uniform when he retired if he hadn’t agreed to take the scraps they offered him year after year.
Bogaerts and Devers should be the cornerstones of this team, not stepping stones to lower payroll and a Rays-esque farm system, but the Sox have become cavalier and hubristic after four championships in fifteen years.
And who can forget the cautionary tales of Jon Lester and Mookie Betts? Again, lowball offers and trades. Sox fans watched helplessly as Lester won a ring in Chicago, two years after his midseason trade to Oakland. Betts won a ring with the Dodgers less than a year after the Sox sent him off. Before them, it was the beloved Nomar Garciaparra, though that story is a bit more complex. Instead, the Sox won the World Series without him, but at the time of the trade, it felt like the sky was falling in Boston.
It’s baffling to see the Sox be so miserly with their own while being so spendthrift elsewhere. I can hear Sebastian the crab singing “The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake, you dream about going up there, but that is a big mistake!” every time I think about it.
Naively, I hoped Bogaerts and Story would be the ones to break the cycle. Nothing against Story, who finally hit his first homer on Wednesday night, but Bogaerts is the kind of player who should spend his entire career in a Sox uniform. Knowing full well that Story could replace him, Bogaerts still helped recruit him this spring, which speaks to his character and team leadership.
Bogaerts has more than earned a big paycheck, and at 29 years old, this is his window. He already took a team-friendly deal in 2019, which he initiated. The Sox don’t seem to appreciate that, either.
But here’s something the Sox either haven’t considered or don’t take seriously:
The bond between Bogaerts and Devers is strong. They are more like brothers than teammates, and Bogaerts has been mentoring Devers for more than half a decade now. If big brother leaves, little brother won’t be happy. Maybe he wants to leave, too. Maybe he follows Bogaerts.
After all, why would Devers trust the Sox to pay him, when he’s seen how they handled his teammates?
Bogaerts and Devers should be the cornerstones of this team, not stepping stones to lower payroll and a Rays-esque farm system, but the Sox have become cavalier and hubristic after four championships in fifteen years. They think they can win without spending, that players will want to come to a team that regularly screws over their best and most beloved stars, and that fans will continue to pay and watch.
Maybe they would before the Betts trade, but I don’t think they will anymore. The Sox knocked over the first domino when they dealt him away, and if they do the same to Bogaerts, I don’t know how they’ll pick up the mess they’ve made.