Xander Bogaerts opted out of the final three years of his six-year, $120 million deal Monday, and will be a free agent for the first time in his career.
The Red Sox’ star shortstop is coming off a season in which he hit .307/.377/.456 with an .833 OPS. He was in the running for the American League batting title, ranking third in average behind the Twins’ Luis Arraez (.316) and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge (.311).
Bogaerts was named an All-Star for the fourth time and was an AL Gold Glove finalist for the first time.
The Sox could potentially lose their face of the franchise in Bogaerts.
He enters free agency with the most franchise starts (1,179) and games played (1,192) at shortstop. He and Alex Rodriguez are the only shortstops with 150-plus homers and 300-plus doubles before turning 30. Bogaerts also is just the fourth Red Sox player to record his 1,400th hit prior to turning 30. The other three — Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice — are all in the Hall of Fame.
Despite Bogaerts’s leap into free agency, he made it clear throughout the 2022 season that he would like to stay in Boston.
When asked at the end of the year if he thought it would be his last time in a Red Sox uniform, Bogaerts said he hoped not.
“This is is all I know,” he said. “I’m very, very thankful for everyone that has helped me be the player I am today. The Red Sox, obviously, for allowing me to make my big league debut, giving me my extension. Arbitration years.
“They have blessed me and my family in that aspect and also blessed me with really good teammates. But this is the business part of it, and I have never been in this situation before, so we’ll see what happens.”
At management’s end-of-season press conference, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated that Bogaerts would be a top priority heading into the offseason.
“Our position has been the same,” Bloom said. “We want to keep him here for a long time. We want him here on a deal that we can look back and say this is great for everyone.
“We just got to the end of one of those in J.D. Martinez. I think everybody can say that deal worked out for everybody involved. We want to build around him and win with him.”
The Sox are now on the clock to make that happen.
▪ If Xander Bogaerts leaves, the Red Sox would lose much more than an All-Star shortstop.
▪ The Red Sox could let Xander Bogaerts walk. David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, and Pedro Martinez have been there.
Julian McWilliams can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.