By Danny Picard
BOSTON -- What’s done is done. Xander Bogaerts is a San Diego Padre.
And now, Red Sox owner John Henry has two options. He can either sell the team, or, he can offer Rafael Devers $400 million, today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next winter. Today.
Bogaerts, 30, signed an 11-year, $280 million contract with the Padres on Wednesday night. The deal includes no opt-outs and has a full no-trade clause.
It comes nearly three years after the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Everyone in Boston is looking for answers. Rightfully so. With multiple departures like this over a three-year span, there needs to be a means to an end for an organization like the Red Sox. If there’s not, then it’s time for an ownership change.
Though, Bogaerts’ exit is a little more complicated than the public outrage might let on. For starters, as good a player and leader as Bogaerts was, the Red Sox absolutely could not pay him $280 million for the next 11 years. Under no circumstances should they have matched that offer. And they didn’t.
When shortstop Trea Turner signed an 11-year, $300 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies earlier in the week, it became pretty much a lock that Bogaerts would not be returning to Boston. The market was set, and the Red Sox’ only hope to retain Bogaerts, at that point, would be if he had agreed to a hometown discount.
But that’s where this whole thing gets sticky. Any chance of Bogaerts taking a hometown discount went out the window the minute the Red Sox signed shortstop Trevor Story to a similar, yet larger contract than the contract Bogaerts was already playing — and thriving — under.
The Red Sox signed Story as a free agent last winter. They gave him a six-year, $140 million deal. That’s a little more than $23 million per season. Several years prior, the Red Sox signed a 26-year-old Bogaerts to a six-year, $120 million extension. That’s 20 million per season.
Bogaerts had the ability to opt out after the third year of that six-year extension. And as we now know, he did just that, and signed a massive deal with the Padres.
But did the opt-out need to even happen?
Red Sox ownership is getting crushed right now for not paying Bogaerts. But are they getting crushed for the wrong reason?
Here’s where the Sox really messed this up: when they signed Story — an All-Star, Silver Slugger shortstop — to a larger deal than their own All-Star, Silver Slugger, and also, World Champion shortstop.
Imagine being Bogaerts when news of the Story signing broke back in March. You mean to tell me Bogaerts was happy with that move?
If I’m Bogaerts, I’m thinking, “They’re going to bring someone in at my position, for more money than I’m making? What the hell did I do to deserve that?”
Story ended up playing all 94 of his games in 2022 at second base. And his career-low .238 batting average didn’t necessarily prove that the signing was worth it, especially if that signing was the real reason Bogaerts became dead set on opting out and testing the free-agent market.
Ultimately, whoever made the final decision to sign Story, is functioning with little-to-no common sense. If you want your captain to take a hometown discount and not run off to the West Coast on an absurd 11-year deal worth close to $300 million, then put some respect on the guy’s f***ing name.
Bringing in Story at all — never mind on a larger average-annual salary — was a slap in the face to Bogaerts.
Bogaerts will never tell you that, because he’s an adult, and a true leader, and the type of person that would’ve probably treated the Red Sox with respect by signing their reportedly cheaper, six-year, $162 million offer, had the Red Sox simply treated him with respect by not signing his eventual replacement the winter before he was able to opt out.
So while the Red Sox are getting killed for being cheap, the reality is, this was never really about money, until the Red Sox disrespected him into making it about money and entertaining the type of mouth-watering deal that was on the table in free agency.
Now, they have no choice. The Red Sox need to offer 26-year-old Devers a $400 million contract.
Either that, or sell the team. There’s simply no other option.
Follow Danny on instagram @DannyPicard.