OAKLAND, Calif. — Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was not expecting to sign shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a contract extension before the season started.
“Put it this way: I was not by any means thinking it was going to happen,” Dombrowski said.
The Sox had tried fruitlessly throughout the winter to find common ground with agent Scott Boras, largely because there were no easy comparisons to make with Bogaerts.
At 26, he was already a two-time World Series winner who had been a full-time player for five seasons at a premium defensive position.
It fell to Bogaerts to bring the sides together.
“I finally just said, ‘I want to stay here. What’s not to like?’ ” Bogaerts said Monday after his six-year, $120 million deal was announced. “I knew what I wanted to do.”
A large group of teammates and coaches crowded into the small interview room at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum to watch Bogaerts’s news conference then applauded when it was over. Bogaerts seemed embarrassed by the attention.
“Here’s where I grew up as a kid, a 16-year-old with no facial hair,” he said. “Now I have so much going on.”
Bogaerts will retain his $12 million salary for this season. The extension runs from 2020-25 and will pay $20 million a season. A $20 million option for 2026 will trigger if Bogaerts has 535 plate appearances in 2025.
Bogaerts has the right to opt out of his contract following the 2022 season.
The contract also includes a provision for Bogaerts to provide funding for a baseball academy in his native Aruba in conjunction with the Red Sox.
“It also allowed him to do something that was most important to him, and that was remain with his teammates,” Boras said. “He’s very close to this group. He’s a family guy. He really welcomes and enjoys the opportunity to play with a group of people he was raised with. That’s who Xander Bogaerts is.”
Raquel Ferreira, the team’s senior vice president of major and minor league operations, played a significant role in getting the deal done, having long ago earned Bogaerts’s trust.
She was in Seattle last week as Bogaerts debated what path to take. Had a deal not gotten done by Opening Day, he was prepared to wait until after the season, as were the Sox.
“I talked to a lot of people and I knew what was best for me,” Bogaerts said. “It was a little hectic.”
Bogaerts said he decided last Wednesday night that he wanted to get a deal done and the details were hammered out Thursday night.
“Great for us. Great for him,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I was telling somebody he’s a great player [but] he’s a better person. Smart individual.”
Bogaerts is already eighth in franchise history with 696 starts at shortstop. He went into Monday’s game hitting .283 with a .772 OPS over seven seasons.
Since 2015, Bogaerts leads all shortstops in hits, doubles, and RBIs. He is second in games played, extra-base hits, and runs scored.
“You’re talking about elite offensive players and that normally doesn’t come with shortstops,” Boras said.
With Bogaerts and Chris Sale agreeing to deals in the last 11 days, the most prominent Red Sox player in his free agent season is Rick Porcello.
The 30-year-old righthander has expressed a desire to remain with the Sox but has yet to receive an offer.
J.D. Martinez can opt out of his contract following the season.
Martinez, who is represented by Boras, also can opt out following the 2020 season. The sides have not discussed adjusting his contract to make 2020 or beyond guaranteed.
Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce, who together make $12.75 million, also can become free agents. Pearce will be 36 and Moreland 34 at season’s end.
Utility players Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt also are in the final season of their deals.
Dombrowski said that, barring something unexpected, no other contract negotiations would take place until after the season.
Andrew Benintendi’s stint as a leadoff hitter lasted three games. Mookie Betts hit first on Monday with Benintendi second, as was the case most of last season.
“It’s one of those that when you start managing the game and see what’s going on, you start thinking and you have to make adjustments,” Cora said. “With this team, it makes sense.”
Benintendi was 2 for 12 hitting leadoff in Seattle.
Pearce gets closer
Pearce, who is on the injured list with a strained left calf, is “feeling great,” according to Cora, and there’s a chance he could be activated in Arizona on Friday. He played in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday and hit a home run . . . Dustin Pedroia, who is recovering from left knee surgery, is scheduled to play nine innings Tuesday then report to Single A Greenville for their opening day Thursday. He would play second base in that game.