How Xander Bogaerts' perspective has changed since that last contract


Things change. That's what Xander Bogaerts is reminded every Monday morning when releases its weekly power rankings.

He wakes up, soaks in where the list has his Red Sox and proceeds to fire off a note to manager Alex Cora.

"I text him pretty much every time it comes out," the shortstop admitted in his first in-person interview since 2020 spring training. "If I missed, I might have missed one or two."

It started with the Red Sox sitting at No. 20 before ultimately finding their way to No. 1 a month or so into the 2021 season. For Bogaerts, it has been a way to define the perceived disrespect.

"Yeah! Yeah! I like it, man," Bogaerts jovially said regarding the rankings. "It’s a good way for you as a team to know you’re doing good. If you lose, you’re going to down. You’re going to go to the bottom."

Yes, things change. It's a reality the 28-year-old superstar will likely be reminded of in grand fashion at some point before the end of 2022.

There isn't much mystery when it comes to the kind of player Bogaerts has become. He is firmly entrenched in the conversation for best shortstop in all of Major League Baseball.

Average. On-base percentage. Slugging percentage. OPS. Doubles. Extra-base hits. RBI. WAR. He is better than any other shortstop this season in each and every one of those categories.

But what we don't know is what this evolution will mean when decision time comes regarding the opportunity to opt-out of his current contract after the 2022 season.

For the first time, Bogaerts at least offered some insight into how his mindset has changed since inking that six-year, $120 million extension at the beginning of the 2019 campaign.

"At that time when I signed I knew I had some good years, but they weren't as good as they have been these last couple of years," he said. "I knew I was a good player, but I’ve taken to another level since then. Hey man, you get paid a lot of money you’ve to to show up and earn it.

Does he have a different perspective than two years ago?

"I do," Bogaerts responded. "Obviously, I know I love the city, but you know how all those guys are getting paid and stuff like that. So when that time comes we’ll see what happens. It’s very interesting. A lot of guys are getting what they deserve. We’ll see what happens."

"Those guys" aren't that difficult to decipher. Francisco Lindor signed for 10 years, $341 million. Fernando Tatis was locked up at 14 years, $340 million. And that's not even including the free agent shortstops coming up this offseason -- Carlos Correa, Javy Baez, Corey Seager, Trevor Story. "This group this year is going to be crazy," noted Bogaerts.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox shortstop watches and waits. Twenty million bucks a year isn't bad. And playing in Boston was what Bogaerts wanted. But it all does likely feel a bit different when he was a very good-but-not-great player heading into that 2019 season. Now he is great.

"We just won a World Series," he said of the window when he agreed to his extension. "This is fun, being around this group. Obviously, a lot of the guys I played with on that team is not here anymore … It was a really good time. That was a good one."

This we do know: Bogaerts still likes it with this Red Sox team, even if it is a different club than the one he celebrated that championship with. He also understands where he has landed in the heirarchy of baseball stars, with even better times ahead. "It's good change for me," he said when asked how the new approach to pitching has translated to his skill-set.

We also know the Red Sox are lucky to have Bogaerts. He is a big reason, after all, those power rankings have become palatable each Monday morning.

"In the beginning," he said when asked if the early versions of the lists offered frustrations. "Now, the results show for themselves."

They sure do ... for the team and its star.