Tomase: Sox keep telling us they want Bogaerts, but actions suggest otherwise originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
There are words, and then there are actions. Words are chalk on a wet sidewalk. Actions convey meaning.
The Red Sox have spilled a lot of words about Xander Bogaerts over the last three months. They want to keep him more than anything in the world. They believe he's the rare 30-year-old worth locking up long-term. He is their first offseason priority.
Their actions, however, tell a more discouraging story. They paid shortstop Trevor Story $140 million last winter to play second base, but even Story made the move sound temporary as "this year for this team." They lowballed Bogaerts with an extension that amounted to one year and $30 million, effectively killing negotiations in April. Per the MLB Network's Mark Feinsand, they're already inquiring about rival second basemen in trade talks, which would allow Story to shift back to his natural position.
Those are the actions of a team planning to feature a new shortstop next season, and we can continue to hope they'll do right by their homegrown franchise player, but we shouldn't let words obscure that picture.
"Bogey's our first choice," chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters at the GM Meetings in Las Vegas, including Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. "That's not going to change. Part of our jobs is to explore every option to field a contending team next year and put together a really good group. We need to explore every possible way to do that, but Bogey's our first choice."
Letting Bogaerts walk might not necessarily even be a mistake. He's 30, questions about his long-term defensive viability remain, and this is a strong free agent shortstop class. It would be hard to complain if Bogaerts departs in favor of Carlos Correa or Trea Turner.
Even that alternative best-case scenario will not let the Red Sox off the hook. They'll still have to answer for their words.
If they really wanted Bogaerts, they wouldn't have let him reach free agency, where every other team in baseball now gets a crack at him. Imagine what kind of offer Dave Dombrowski -- who has already extended Bogaerts once -- might make to fill the one hole in a lineup that fell two wins shy of the World Series. That run galvanized one of the most passionate fan bases in sports and incentivized owner John Middleton to spend more than ever. If Bogaerts can thrive in Boston, he'd be a perfect fit alongside Bryce Harper and old friend Kyle Schwarber in Philadelphia.
Given the expansion of the luxury tax and the direction of the market last winter, when second baseman Marcus Semien earned seven years and $175 million, it's reasonable to assume Bogaerts will score at least $200 million. Fangraphs pegs his value at seven years and $217 million; New York Post insider Jon Heyman predicts eight years and $225 million.
If the Red Sox plan on extending an offer in that range, I will happily eat my words and acknowledge that we should've taken the Red Sox at theirs. The fact that owners John Henry and Tom Werner reportedly met with Bogaerts late in the season is the one data point that provides some hope, because if the owners really want him, all it will take is a pile of their money.
But big picture, the Red Sox have not operated like a club that intends to pony up for a player who desperately wants to stay. If he ends up leaving, the Red Sox will tell us they did all they could.
Those will just be more words, and they'll be particularly worthless. The team's actions will already have told us everything we need to know.