The Boston Red Sox continue to lock up their core players as they kick off the 2019 season. Fresh off the heels of signing Chris Sale to an extension, the Red Sox announced on Monday afternoon that they signed their All-Star shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, to a six-year contract extension.
The deal runs through the 2025 season and will pay Bogaerts $20 million each season. The deal also includes a vesting option for 2026 which will pay Bogaerts an additional $20 million if he reaches 535 plate appearances, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Bogaerts is coming off a fantastic 2018 campaign during which he slashed .288/.360/.522 while hitting 23 home runs and recording 103 runs batted in. He played in 136 games last season and was an integral part of Boston’s World Series Championship run. The 2018 World Series Championship was Bogaerts’ second title of his young career with Boston, and the organization hopes that many more are still to come.
Despite many eyes being fixed on Mookie Betts, who is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season, the Red Sox have been turning their attention to the other members of their young core. The contract extension for Bogaerts is the latest example of the Red Sox’ commitment to securing their young talent for the future. Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe did a nice job highlighting this on Sunday night.
The Red Sox did not rest on their laurels after winning the World Series last year. The team has made it clear that they want this window of success to stay open for as long as it can.
The contract currently makes Bogaerts the highest paid shortstop in the league, though that is likely to change given the influx of young shortstops that are due to hit the market. Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Trea Turner, and Corey Seager are all due to hit big paydays in the near future, so the Red Sox were smart to get out ahead of the pending explosion that is coming to the shortstop market.
Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale were the two biggest names that were due to become free agents after the 2019 season for the Red Sox, and now both of those key players have been locked into long-term deals. The one remaining big name whose contract is set to expire after the 2019 season is Rick Porcello, who is currently making $21 million on the last year of his current contract. Porcello’s status is currently up in the air, but there is a strong chance that the Red Sox let the 30-year-old right-hander hit the free agent market after this season in order to focus their attention on two much bigger names.
Both Betts and J.D. Martinez are closing in on potentially hitting the free agent market, and the Red Sox are headed for a tough decision pertaining to those two superstar players. Martinez is on just the second year of his five-year, $110 million contract that he signed with the team prior to last season. However, Martinez has three opt-out opportunities built into his current deal, the first of which comes after this coming 2019 season. The other two opt-out opportunities come after the 2020 season and the 2021 season. The Red Sox would love nothing more than to keep the righty slugger at his current price tag of $23 million per year, but Martinez can always choose to opt out and test the free agent market for a better deal.
Is this likely to happen? Luckily for the Red Sox, probably not. Players around the league are becoming less and less eager to test the free agent market and are choosing to sign long-term deals with their current teams in order to secure a strong annual salary. Martinez will be 32 years old after this season, so the likelihood of another team stepping forward and offering him a long-term deal at more than $23 million per year seems slim at best.
Betts, the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, presents the bigger question mark for the Red Sox. Betts and the Red Sox have yet to come to an agreement on a contract extension and, by the sounds of it, are nowhere close to doing so anytime soon. With fellow superstars such as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado all receiving their mega deals, Betts is now poised to earn his.
The signing of Xander Bogaerts begs the question: are the Red Sox locking up their young core in hopes that Betts will join them? Or, are they locking up their young core out of fear that Betts has no intention of staying in Boston? The former is more likely than the latter, as the Red Sox certainly have the payroll and the financial means to give Betts the kind of contract that he wants.
Whether or not the team is able to secure Mookie Betts for the future is an issue that still needs to sort itself out. One thing, however, is crystal clear: with or without Mookie Betts, the Boston Red Sox are securing their talented young core and keeping their championship window wide open for the foreseeable future.