In their annual effort to rank the top-50 trade commodities in baseball, Fangraphs has placed Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts at #33.
It's a fall of nine spots for Xander from last year, which shouldn't really come as a surprise. When Fangraphs was putting together their list for 2014, Bogaerts was mired in the long slump that would ultimately ruin his season, but at the time it seemed like nothing more than a long-but-temporary slide for a player who, as recently as June 1st, had been sporting an OPS of .835 as one of the youngest shortstops in the business.
Since then, Bogaerts has obviously fallen far in the second half of 2014, and then climbed right back up with his success in 2015. He has gone about it in an unexpected manner--if you'd told anyone here that Bogaerts would be one of Boston's best position players this season, we'd assume he'd not only turned his bat around, but found the power that he was expected to produce. Instead, while his bat has come around to be nicely above-average, it's his defense that is suddenly a commodity, with Bogaerts taking huge steps forward at one of the game's most valuable positions.
So why is he nine places back rather than dead even, or even perhaps a few spots forward? Simply put: it's been a year. That's one less year of team control for anyone who trades for Bogaerts, and specifically one less year of control at the league minimum salary. That's a big hit to any player's trade value.
All this is relatively inconsequential, though, since the Red Sox aren't exactly chomping at the bit to trade Bogaerts. He has at least four more seasons with the team before he enters free agency, and they'd like to make him a part of some contending teams in that period, and perhaps more past that.
Interestingly enough, Bogaerts is the first of Boston's players to make the list, which--unless Fangraphs has somehow omitted him--means Mookie Betts has leapfrogged one of Boston's highest profile prospects in a very long time. It's not a surprise, exactly, given that in less than a full season's worth of games, Mookie is sitting at 4.9 fWAR on his career and has one more year of team control to boot. One wonders just how high he'll place.