Boston Red Sox: Is Xander Bogaerts Expendable?

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Xander Bogaerts
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Xander Bogaerts /

Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts’ future with the team is in question.

When he came up through the Boston Red Sox system, hopes were high for Xander Bogaerts. He was not just supposed to be the team’s answer at shortstop, but a cream of the crop shortstop in the 21st century: tall (for a shortstop), can hit for contact and power and an elite defender.

And maybe even a clubhouse leader.

We saw flashes of this in 2016. He hit 21 home runs, racked up 89 RBI and batted an impressive .294. He was the starter at shortstop for the American League at the All-Star Game. Add 192 hits to that resume and you have yourself an impressive campaign.

But the fall-off in the second half of 2016 is what prompted questions heading into this past season.

Post All-Star break, Bogaerts was far from the American League starter that baseball had seen in San Diego. He batted .253 with only 75 hits and 33 RBI. In the first half, he batted .329 with 117 hits and 56 RBI. Clearly he had a drop-off in production, but he took a step forward in his development as a big leaguer. His power numbers were up and his all-around talent was beginning to balance itself out.

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 09: Bogaerts may have had his last great moment in Boston.
BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 09: Bogaerts may have had his last great moment in Boston. /

But this past season was a step back.

His home run number was down (10). And with his RBI (62), batting average (.273), on-base percentage (.343) and slugging percentage (.403) all down from the previous season, it was clear that things had changed with Bogaerts.

In 2016, Bogaerts ranked among the top shortstops in the game. In 2017?

He was far from that crew.

As guys like Didi Gregorius and Francisco Lindor continued to blossom, Bogaerts was left in the dust.

In July, Bogaerts batted .163 and in August, he batted .227. While Lindor put up 33 homers and Gregorius had 25, Bogaerts continuously struggled with putting the ball in the seats.

Ironically, Bogaerts did hit a home run in the postseason. There was just one problem.

It was his only hit.

In this past postseason that saw the Red Sox ousted by the Houston Astros in four games, Bogaerts hit .059 by gathering one hit (the home run) in 17 plate appearances. Out of all American League shortstops in the postseason, Bogaerts was statistically the worst.

This speaks volumes to where Bogaerts ranks among American League shortstops. He was seventh in batting average and RBI. To go along with that, he ranked 11th in home runs.

Bogaerts was supposed to be the guy. He was supposed to be near the top with the likes of Lindor and Carlos Correa.

There is still room to grow. There is still room to morph into the shortstop, scratch that, superstar the Red Sox believed Bogaerts could be.

But what might be blocking his consistency in growth is his mentality.

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After losing in four games to the Astros, Bogaerts made a startling remark to reporters after the game. He believed that the Red Sox had proved the doubters wrong by winning a postseason game.

Excuse me?

This is Boston. Had this team been rebuilding like your rivals over there in New York, maybe that might work. But no, that mentality does not fly around here. Yes, this team is young. With Bogaerts being one of the more experienced guys on the roster, the message should not be that they are happy to win one game.

They should be bent out of shape that for some reason, their starting pitchers decided to take the series off. They should be bent out of shape that their offense was a no-show in Houston.

If this is a true testament to Bogaerts’ personality as it relates to baseball, the Red Sox should be wary. Add in his lack of big hits and the Red Sox may have a big decision to make.

If the Miami Marlins came calling today and asked for a package including Bogaerts in exchange for Giancarlo Stanton, do the Red Sox say yes?

I believe the answer to that one is yes.

All the Red Sox would have to do is re-sign Eduardo Nunez for cheap and the shortstop position would be locked up. Shortstop is not the most important offensive position, so filling it back up would not be a huge worry. Nunez is a great clubhouse guy and in his short stint with the Sox was phenomenal. Stanton’s production would make up for anything lost in the return.

Next: Mariners 2017 Season Review

Every year it seems that we keep believing Bogaerts has more potential. The Red Sox resort to what they believe he still could be.

But time is running out and now is the time to deal him before his value worsens.