How will Red Sox replace Xander Bogaerts? Here are five options

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How will Red Sox replace Bogaerts? Here are five options originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Xander Bogaerts era in Boston has come to an end. The Red Sox failed to re-sign their homegrown shortstop in free agency, losing him to the San Diego Padres on an 11-year, $280 million contract.

Any optimism that came with Wednesday's signings of veteran closer Kenley Jansen and Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida disappeared with the news of Bogaerts' departure. Suddenly, the Red Sox are left with a significant void in their lineup and arguably the most important position on the field.

Tomase: Bogaerts is out the door, and Devers could soon follow

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom acknowledged shortstop as a position of need during the winter meetings. Re-signing Bogaerts was priority No. 1, so it's fair to assume they will shift their focus to one of the other top options on the free-agent market. However, Bloom also stated the team is content to proceed with second baseman Trevor Story or utility man Kiké Hernandez taking over at shortstop. Either way, a major decision needs to be made in the Red Sox front office, and fast.

So, where do the Red Sox go from here after losing their franchise cornerstone? Here are five options for replacing Bogaerts at shortstop.

1. Sign Carlos Correa

Projected contract: 10 years, $300 million

With Bogaerts and Trea Turner (Philadelphia Phillies) off the market, Carlos Correa is the clearcut No 1. shortstop available. At 28, he's two years younger than Bogaerts and arguably the better all-around talent.

Signing Correa would be the strongest response to Bogaerts leaving, but it doesn't seem like a move this Red Sox front office would make. If six years and $160 million is all they offered Bogaerts, who helped them to two World Series titles, it wouldn't make much sense to hand Correa a blank check.

Whoever signs Correa will be getting one of the best players in the game. The 2017 World Series champion has a career .836 OPS and a Platinum Glove on his résumé. That'll cost a pretty penny.

2. Sign Dansby Swanson

Projected contract: Seven years, $170 million

Swanson, a former No. 1 overall draft pick, is the next-best shortstop available behind Correa. He's also the more realistic option, and the Red Sox reportedly are among the teams with the most interest in signing him.

The 28-year-old isn't on the same tier as Bogaerts and Correa, but he has emerged as one of the game's top shortstops over the last three seasons. He helped the Atlanta Braves to a World Series title in 2021 and earned his first All-Star selection in 2022, posting a .277/.329/.447 slash line to go with 25 homers and a career-high 96 RBI. He also won his first Gold Glove award.

While signing Swanson wouldn't take away the pain of Bogaerts' departure, it would show this Red Sox front office is still interested in competing in 2023. Though if the price tag starts to creep above $200 million, that's probably too much to shell out for a player with such a short track record.

3. Move Trevor Story to shortstop

Many speculated last offseason's signing of Story to a six-year contract was Bloom and Co. planning ahead for Bogaerts' inevitable departure. Unless another move is made ahead of Opening Day, that theory has been proven correct.

Story was a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman in 2022, his first season playing the position. That isn't the only reason Bloom and the Red Sox should be hesitant to move Story back over to shortstop. His right elbow injury history is a serious concern and has led to a rapid decrease in arm strength over his last few seasons.

If replacing Bogaerts with Story is the plan, Boston could roll with a combination of Kiké Hernandez and Christian Arroyo at second base. That is a less-than-ideal scenario, but probably the most plausible one if neither Correa or Swanson are signed.

4. Move Kiké Hernandez to shortstop

Hernandez is an outstanding defensive center fielder. So while his ability to play pretty much any position is a luxury, the Red Sox moving him to shortstop would fill one void while leaving another. They would have to trade for someone like Bryan Reynolds to make this a reasonable solution, otherwise they'll be stuck with Jarren Duran and Rob Refsnyder as their only other center field options on the roster.

Bloom brought Hernandez's name up as the team's potential shortstop in 2023, but we aren't buying it. If he plays shortstop next season, it'll be on a part-time basis.

5. Bargain shop for a shortstop or second baseman

Outside of Correa and Swanson, the middle infield free-agent options leave plenty to be desired. For shortstops, you're looking at names like Jose Iglesias and Elvis Andrus. Jean Segura, Adam Frazier, Josh Harrison, and Cesar Hernandez headline the dismal market for second basemen.

The idea of signing any of these players as a Bogaerts "replacement" is laughable. The "Tampa Bay Red Sox" jokes would write themselves. That said, they are potential short-term solutions at shortstop that would allow the organization to improve other parts of the roster such as the outfield, DH spot, and starting rotation.