Pedro Martinez doesn’t think Xander Bogaerts should opt out of his contract with the Red Sox following the 2022 season. Bogaerts signed a six-year, $120 million extension at the start of the 2019 season. At the time, it was considered a steal for the Red Sox. Now, even more so. Bogaerts has transformed himself into a franchise player, and arguably the best hitting shortstop in baseball. Yet Martinez, a Hall of Fame pitcher, believes Bogaerts should keep his home-grown roots in Boston.
“At the end of the day it’s going to be Xander who decides if he goes or stays,” Martinez said Friday ahead of his fifth annual Pedro Martinez Foundation Gala Friday at the Colonnade Hotel. “But to me, Xander is a player that probably needs to continue to have a Hall of Fame career in Boston.
Since 2019, Bogaerts’s .302 batting average ranks third among shortstops with at least 1,000 plate appearances. He ranks first in on-base percentage (.375), third in slugging percentage (.523), and third in OPS (.899). His 67 home runs rank third among shortstops in that time. Marcus Semien has 85, but he was the Blue Jays’ starting second baseman in 2021. Javy Baéz is ahead of Bogaerts by a homer but shifted to second, with Francisco Lindor at shortstop, when the Mets acquired him from the Cubs at the trade deadline in July. Trea Turner is at the top of a lot of lists, too, but played some second base for the Dodgers, with Corey Seager at shortstop, after going from Washington to Los Angeles at the deadline.
Seager is headed into free agency so Turner likely will be the Dodgers’ starting shortstop in 2022 before becoming a free agent after the season.
Fernando Tatis inked a 14-year $340 million deal with the Padres before this past season. Lindor signed a 10-year, $340 million shortly after New York acquired him from Cleveland last offseason. Bogaerts has stayed played more than Tatis (though, at 22, Tatis is a generational talent) and has performed better than Lindor. But legends are made in Boston and Martinez intimated that money aside, Bogaerts could become a beloved figure in New England.
“The years that Xander Bogaerts has played for Boston are Hall of Fame years,” Martinez said emphatically. “So we have to [make sure] Xander continues to feel comfortable, and continues to do what he has to do. Hopefully Xander will have the same love for Boston that Boston has for Xander Bogaerts.”
Both current and former players were in attendance at the gala, including former Red Sox catcher and current game planning coordinator, Jason Varitek, as well as Nationals outfielder Juan Soto.
All donations from the gala will go to underserved children in Latin America and ithe United States in hopes of carrying out Martinez’s foundation’s mission of a fair and just education system.
“I’m extremely happy to have the opportunity to, once again, be back in Boston, get Boston’s love and support toward me, toward the foundation, toward a dream I always had,” Martinez said.
Other topics of discussion:
Martinez on the Red Sox’ season
Martinez was pleased with the 2021 season that garnered the Sox the first wild-card spot and an American League Championship Series berth. Given the team’s starting pitching depth was limited without Chris Sale (recovery from Tommy John surgery) for much of the season, Martinez said he believes the club over-achieved.
“I’m extremely, extremely happy with the way things went,” Martinez said. “Even though we got excited and we thought we could pull it off. At the same time we had a better team than people thought we had. If we were totally healthy the entire season and had Chris Sale as the stabilizing [force] in the front of the rotation, we would probably be arguing right now whether we were the champions or not.”
Martinez said he sees promise for the 2022 Red Sox season.
“With everybody back on track, I think we’re going to be OK,” he said. “I think we’re going to be that team that you saw on certain occasions take over the division, take over the American League.”
Varitek on Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock
A looming question heading into next season is whether Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck will be in the rotation the bullpen. Houck was moved to the bullpen at the end of the year as a multi-inning guy while Whitlock was the Sox’ best reliever over the course of the year. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said at the end of the year that he believes both have strong potential as starters but wouldn’t commit one way or another. Varitek intimated as much, saying it would be a joint decision. Nevertheless, Varitek is high on both pitchers.
“I love both of them,” said Varitek, who in addition to pitching coach Dave Bush, helps with the pitchers. “Whitlock was the reason this team pitched well enough to be where we were. He’s learning his position and he’s pretty dominant. Tanner did everything we asked him to do. They are huge, huge, parts of our future.”
Varitek on potential job openings
Varitek has been mentioned as a future managerial candidate. Sox manager Alex Cora has praisedVaritek, saying it will only be a matter of time until Varitek is at the head of the table. Varitek, though, has an even-keeled approach toward his future.
“Let’s see what’s open and see what happens,” Varitek said. “Obviously, some doors have closed right away. So let’s see what happens from there.”
Varitek and Pedro on Jerry Remy
New England is still mourning the recent death of former Red Sox player and broadcaster Jerry Remy following a long bout with cancer.
Martinez and Varitek reflected on Remy’s life.
“Rem dog says it all just in his nickname,” said Varitek, who went to the gala after Remy’s wake. “Jerry means the world, not only as a player but his continued effort as a broadcaster for so many years. Everybody’s grown up with Jerry Remy.”
Said Martinez: “I’m a little bit down. We just lost the big one in Jerry Remy. A little bit bummed out for that. But at the same time, I know Jerry’s smiling somewhere because we’re doing the things he likes to see.”
Julian McWilliams can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.