As expected, Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts opted out of his contract on Monday, officially becoming a free agent.
While Bogaerts is technically no longer a member of the Red Sox, Boston's front office is still committed to bringing him back.
Xander Bogaerts Rumors
According to Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, Bogaerts is still the team's "first choice" at shortstop. That's encouraging for Red Sox fans to hear given that the team already has a star shortstop on the roster in Trevor Story, whom Boston signed prior to last season, potentially as insurance in case Bogaerts departed.
Bogaerts is not the only superstar shortstop on the market, as Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson are also available. But Bloom's statement makes it clear that Boston would rather retain Bogaerts than slide Story over from second base or sign a new shortstop.
Bogaerts, who just turned 30, is already one of the most accomplished shortstops in Red Sox history. In 10 seasons with the team, he's helped Boston win two World Series while making four All-Star teams and earning four Silver Slugger awards. He's also emerged as the club's unofficial captain in recent years as the longest-tenured member of the team.
While Bogaerts still had three years and $60 million remaining on his contract, he'll likely get 2-3 times that on the open market. He's also represented by agent Scott Boras, who has a well-established reputation for taking his players to free agency and getting them the largest possible contract.
Red Sox leadership has been saying all year how important Bogaerts is to the organization. Now they have to prove it by paying him accordingly.