The Red Sox burn through general managers and philosophies, but one organizational tenant remains the same: they don’t value their homegrown stars.
The Padres signed Xander Bogaerts to an astonishing 11-year, $280 million contract late Tuesday, ensuring the beloved shortstop’s seemingly inevitable exit from Boston. The Red Sox reportedly presented Bogaerts with an 11th-hour offer for six years at roughly $27 million per season, but they didn’t come close to matching San Diego.
The truth is, Bogaerts was probably gone when the Red Sox low-balled him in Spring Training with a one-year offer worth $30 million. He wound up garnering 10 additional years and $250 million more on the open market.
During the season, Bogaerts expressed his willingness to restarting negotiations on two occasions, but nothing materialized. The Red Sox were content letting their latest franchise icon hit free agency.
Eight years later, the Red Sox haven’t learned their lesson from Jon Lester, whose fraught negotiations with the club mirrored Bogaerts’. The Red Sox infamously offered Lester a four-year, $70 million deal in Spring Training, only to see him sign a six-year, $155 million contract with Theo Epstein’s Cubs.
Boston’s final offer to Lester was worth $135 million; but it was too little, too late.
At the time, the Red Sox sold their decision to let Lester walk as a painful, but prudent shift away from signing pitchers older than 30 to long-term deals. But two consecutive last-place finishes caused them to abandon course. They wound up spending a combined $362 million on David Price and Chris Sale over the ensuing years.
Price’s Red Sox career ended in flames, and Sale has only thrown 48.1 innings since 2019.
As it turns out, keeping Lester would’ve been the wiser option. He was a legitimate ace and one of the best postseason pitchers ever.
But to the Red Sox, other stars are always more attractive than their own.
Look no further than Mookie Betts, whom the Red Sox traded to the Dodgers for the unimpressive package of Alex Verdugo and prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong. Betts is a legitimate five-tool player and took home the MVP trophy in 2018.
But the Red Sox decided to operate like a mid-market club, and trade him for proverbial pennies.
Granted, the Dodgers inked Betts to an insane $365 million extension. But franchise players like Betts offer more than their stellar on-field production. They also create buzz and help the bottom line.
In other words, they kind of pay for themselves. The Red Sox have stumbled to last-place finishes in two of the three years without Betts.
Are you sensing a pattern here?
Through the years, Red Sox ownership has proven to be reactionary. After losing Bogaerts, they may panic and outlay nearly $300 million for Carlos Correa, or $150 million for Dansby Swanson.
But who knows how they’ll perform in Boston? Bogaerts was a franchise stalwart. After signing with the Red Sox as a teenager, he played in 1,262 games for them, 15th in team history. His 1,192 games and 1,179 starts are franchise records for a shortstop, and his 44 playoff games rank fourth among Sox players.
With Bogaerts gone, the only players who remain from the 2018 World Series team, which also happened to post the best record in franchise history, are Rafael Devers, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Sale’s fragile left arm.
Devers is due to hit free agency next year, and he’ll be even more expensive than Bogaerts. At 27 years old, Devers could realistically command a deal in the $400 million range.
Maybe the Red Sox should just trade him now, and spare us the heartache.