With the roster basically set and locked up for the next couple of seasons, there’s not a lot of transaction talk around the Red Sox these days. The one big discussion, and one that figures to continue for a long time, is whether or not the team will negotiate and agree to long-term extensions for Mookie Betts and/or Xander Bogaerts. The two 24-year-old budding stars (I suppose you could argue that at least Betts is already a star) are both going to be in attendance at this weekend’s Boston Baseball Writer’s Dinner. Rob Bradford of WEEI caught up with each of them, and neither was able to pass along good news regarding even preliminary talks about a long-term deal.
We’ll start with Betts, who was a little more candid in his conversation with Bradford. He confirmed there wasn’t any sort of conversation, but things got even more upsetting after that. When asked whether or not it’s something he’d like to push for, his response won’t be music to Red Sox fans’ ears.
Now, that’s not what we want to hear. We’d like to hear that he wants to sign a 20-year deal right now and stay in Boston forever. Even an actually realistic seven-year deal would do, I suppose. From his point of view, though, it makes sense. He’s only entering his age-24 season, and he just finished second in the MVP voting. He hasn’t even reached arbitration yet, and he will be able to make serious money through that process alone. The sky's the limit for Betts, and he doesn’t hit the open market until after the 2020 season. He has plenty of time to lock up his future, and he’s already set up for solid paydays in the meantime. Unless he gets floored by an offer, there’s little reason for him to entertain an extension at least until he gets a baseline set by the arbitration process.
As for Bogaerts, who is represented by the infamous (to owners, at least) Scott Boras, the shortstop was being a little less open about his intentions. His response to the question of whether or not he’d been in talks about an extension was simply that he’s looking forward to the coming season. He went a little more in depth after that.
The issue of Bogaerts’ agent isn’t a small one, as Boras is known for wanting his clients to test the free agent market. However, an agent’s number one job is fulfilling their clients’ wants, and if Bogaerts wants an extension he’ll get it. Stephen Strasburg, another Boras client, signed a big extension with the Nationals just one year, although he was also much closer to free agency.
On the other hand, Bogaerts says himself that he may change his mind when he hits his second year of arbitration. He’s made it clear that he likes the city of Boston, and the closer he gets to free agency the more he’ll be thinking about the possibility of leaving. Whether that leads him to an extension is another discussion. It’s also worth mentioning that his early career has been a little more fluky and inconsistent than Betts’, and he may want to cash in while he can. The flip side of that, of course, is that there’s still plenty of potential to tap into and he can launch himself into another pay scale as early as this season.
The hope is that both of these young cornerstones stay in Boston for a long time. A pre-free agency extension would make that much easier, but it’s not the only way. The Red Sox have more money than just about any other team in baseball, and shouldn’t lose any star to free agency. Still, it’ll be a long three or four years if extension talks never come to fruition.