SAN DIEGO — On Monday night, the Red Sox met with agent Scott Boras and discussed free-agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts. But according to a source familiar with the conversation, no progress towards a deal was made.
Thus continued a slow-moving process involving the Red Sox and their four-time All-Star, who Boras said has now met in person with representatives of several teams, including multiple owners. The Sox have not had a face-to-face meeting with Bogaerts during his free agency.
“They’ve been meeting with Xander for years,” Boras said.
As Monday’s conversation indicated, the team does remain engaged in talks about the shortstop. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Monday that retaining Bogaerts remains the team’s top offseason priority, but that the team always expected Bogaerts to fully explore his free agent market before he made any decision about his future.
Is that approach too passive?
“I don’t know their strategy. I just know we continue to talk and have dialogue and continue the process with them,” Boras said during a 30-minute media session. “The Red Sox, they kind of have four-star ownership. These guys have proven over time that they win and they pursue winning . . . I think everyone around them understands the Sox without ‘X’ are So-So.”
Bloom expressed amusement for Boras’ wordplay, but did not agree with the agent’s assessment.
“We think we’re going to be good,” said Bloom. “We hope it’s with Xander. We really do. If that doesn’t work out, we’re still intent on being a playoff caliber team.”
Even so, the possibility of a departure by Bogaerts has become increasingly real as the offseason has progressed. Boras described a market in which multiple teams have made multiple offers on his star shortstop clients (Bogaerts and Carlos Correa) in recent days. And through his meetings with other potential bidders, Boras said that Bogaerts has developed increasing comfort with a range of teams.
“Xander’s had an opportunity now to exercise his free-agent right. He’s met with a host of teams, gotten to know who he is in the eyes of many of the opponents he played against. I think it’s been a very thorough process, something that for him gave him a greater understanding of who he is in the baseball world,” said Boras. “He’s also learned the approaches of many teams and owners. The owners that have met him have been really, really impressed, and he with them. It’s been a real education for him in the last month or so.”
Interestingly, while Boras said that all of his discussions with other teams have been about signing Bogaerts as a shortstop for 2023, the agent identified potential future positional versatility as one of the 30-year-old’s selling points.
“Xander’s strengths are OPS. He’s got elite bat-to-ball skills. I think Xander ages really well in this game because of his bat-to-ball skills, because of his multiple position abilities to play third and second base and his arm strength,” said Boras. “Xander hits a lot of line drives in Fenway. A lot of them would be home runs in other places. His [slugging], his on-base are true qualities for anyone that plays on the dirt.”
Boras suggested that if another team pushes towards the completion of a deal with Bogaerts or any of his players, he would not give that player’s former team a last chance to outbid their competition.
“We’re not the matching kind. We let teams know that they have to assert,” said Boras. “We don’t ever hold back from reaching an agreement with any team and certainly we don’t give market preference to anyone. Otherwise, I think the free agent right would be dampened if you did.”
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