SAN DIEGO — The fervent desire the Red Sox have expressed to re-sign Xander Bogaerts over the last few months has felt scripted, a strategy conceived to mask their real intentions.
Now there’s further evidence Bogaerts may not have been much of a priority at all.
Two sources said Sunday that Bogaerts has been meeting in person with interested teams this weekend ahead of the Winter Meetings and that the Sox have not made their All-Star shortstop a competitive offer.
The Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers, and Padres are among the 8-11 teams with interest in Bogaerts. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom did not have the Sox positioned in that group as of Sunday afternoon.
Bogaerts remains hopeful the Sox will step up their interest but has been impressed with the pitches made by other teams.
Chicago manager David Ross played with Bogaerts in Boston from 2013-14 and knows him well. Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has high regard for Bogaerts from his time running baseball operations for the Sox.
The Cubs see the widely respected Bogaerts as a key to what they feel is a coming resurgence. For the Phillies, he could be the final piece needed for a team that advanced to the World Series and fell in six games to the Astros.
Bogaerts opted out of the final three seasons and $60 million of his contract last month, something the Red Sox had long been expecting.
When Corey Seager agreed to a 10-year, $325 million deal to play shortstop for the Texas Rangers last Dec. 1, it was evident that Bogaerts would explore free agency unless the Sox signed him to a contract extension.
But the Sox waited until late in spring training and offered Bogaerts only an extra year at $30 million. That was immediately refused and created tension between Bogaerts and the front office.
Bogaerts was clearly annoyed when he spoke to reporters ahead of Opening Day. But the lowball offer did not affect his play. Bogaerts was an All-Star for the fourth time and finished ninth in MVP voting.
His fWAR of 6.1 was the fourth highest among shortstops and well ahead of Seager (4.5) and fellow free agent Carlos Correa (4.4).
If Bogaerts jumps to another team, the Sox could move second baseman Trevor Story to shortstop. Story was signed to a six-year, $140 million deal last March, something Bogaerts publicly pushed for to improve the team.
Story had a career-worst .737 OPS and played only 94 games because of injuries. There are also lingering concerns about his arm strength because of an elbow injury.
At 30, Bogaerts has already been one of the most impactful players in Red Sox history, having played in 44 postseason games and earned two World Series rings.
Now his time with the team, which started in 2009 when he signed as a 16-year-old, could be coming to an end.
In 2020, Bloom traded Mookie Betts and lefthander David Price to the Dodgers for two prospects and outfielder Alex Verdugo.
This time, the only compensation for Bogaerts would be a 2023 draft pick after the fourth round.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.