FORT MYERS, Fla. -- We've been discussing a contract extension for Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts since about 2013, which makes it strange that his impending free agency seems to be catching so many of us by surprise.
Bogaerts is entering his final season of Red Sox control and could easily be playing elsewhere next year. The topic dominated his introductory press conference on Friday, but just as he has for most of his tenure, he parried the questions amiably.
"Good afternoon," he joked when the first question about free agency flew before he had even sat down.
"I mean sure, I enjoy my time here," he said. "We have something special going on right now, for the last couple years now, and I think I've been a part of it since it started. The Red Sox have treated me and my family amazing so far. We'll see what happens."
Like everyone else across the game, Bogaerts doesn't know what to make an offseason that has left over 100 players unsigned, including prime-age superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
"I don't know man. I'm not buddies like that with them," he said. "I don't talk to them like that so I have no idea. But that's also weird. Coming into this year those were the main guys that everyone was talking about and they still don't have teams yet. I don't the reasons for them, I don't know any contract offers they have or anything. But it's weird, it's weird."
Could their prolonged free agency cause him to rethink any extension offers from the Red Sox? The security of signing a deal now would eliminate the uncertainty of what has been a hostile market for two years now.
"You obviously have to think about that," Bogaerts said. "We're all baseball players and want to do well and take care of our family in the future. But those are big names man, big names that came into this year hoping, and everybody was expecting, to get all this money and stuff like that. Those are the main free agents still out there so you just don't understand how it happens like that. I don't know if they have any offers or what, I don't know. But it's a bit not nice that those two big guys don't have deals yet."
Bogaerts is a 26-year-old veteran leader coming off a .288-23-103 season. He doesn't feel that far removed from playing in his first World Series a couple of weeks after turning 21.
"Time flies," he said. "Winning a World Series my first time, it took a while to win another one, but I think my years in the big leagues have passed by so quick, especially contract wise. Sometimes it's a bit unreal that all this time passed and so quick."