Red Sox

A hunch that Red Sox will go into spin mode if Xander Bogaerts departs in free agency

Management will try to say it was Bogaerts's decision to leave, even though he really wanted to stay.

Xander Bogaerts has been a model player for the franchise. JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF

Playing nine innings while wondering whether Chaim Bloom will keep his job long enough to reap the full benefits of his rebuilt farm system …

1. Strong hunch on what happens with Xander Bogaerts, free agent shortstop: Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox will say “Bogey is our first choice” right up until he signs elsewhere — Cardinals? Phillies? Dodgers? — and then management will try to spin it like it was his decision to leave even though the only organization Bogaerts has ever known will not have made a competitive, sincere offer to retain him. Semi-reasonable, slightly desperate pathway for Bogaerts to stay in Boston: He gets lost a bit in a stacked shortstop market that includes Trea Turner and Carlos Correa and ends up coming back to the Red Sox for something like six years and $190 million. That would seem like a win-win option, and it stinks that it’s far less likely than Bogaerts, a model player for the franchise, departing for a new baseball home.

2. As colleague Peter Abraham noted this week, the pressure is on Bloom to get this right. The problem is, there are so many flaws with this roster that the degree of difficulty in building a playoff contender in one offseason looks next to impossible. The Red Sox desperately need front-end starting pitching, but Justin Verlander will be 40 in February and Jacob deGrom is both older than you think (34) and a major injury risk (26 starts the past two seasons). They need to find at least two competent late-inning relievers, especially if they’re intent on using Garrett Whitlock as a starter. And if Bogaerts leaves, there’s a new hole in a lineup that already has its share. Even with an active free agent period, this is a team that is going to need a bunch of best-case-scenarios to come to fruition.

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3. I’m curious whether the Red Sox at least make cursory inquiries about Aaron Judge’s possible interest in becoming the Yankees’ version of Benedict Arnold. (Sales pitch: “Boston fans probably won’t boo you in the playoffs after a 62-home run season, kid.”) Judge, who turned down a seven-year, $213 million offer from the Yankees before the season and then had the greatest contract drive in MLB history, is in line for at least $300 million on his new deal. I can’t imagine the Sox, with so many voids to fill, would go anywhere near that high for a 30-year-old outfielder, even if he did just have the best non-Barry Bonds season we’ve ever seen. But the Sox should at least inquire, if for no other reason than to agitate the Yankees.

4. It’s ridiculous Lou Whitaker and Dwight Evans were left off the eight-player ballot for the Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Era Players Committee. The ballot, which features players whose careers were mainly from 1980 on and were not elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, is bogged down with controversial players who recently fell of the ballot (Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling), a group we could all use a little break from for a while. Albert Belle, a mean-spirited slugger with a short career, is also included for some reason, as are Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, Rafael Palmeiro, and Fred McGriff. Whitaker’s continued exclusion — he’s seventh all time in Wins Above Replacement at second base and conservatively one of the dozen best at the position — is particularly baffling.

Should Dwight Evans get consideration for the Hall of Fame?
Should Dwight Evans get consideration for the Hall of Fame?GEORGE RIZER/GLOBE STAFF

5. Thrilled to see former University of Maine star Jeremy Peña seize the stage and win both the American League Championship Series and World Series Most Valuable Player awards for the champion Astros. His presence, as well as that of Dusty Baker and Christian Vázquez, made rooting for the Astros palatable. But it also must be acknowledged that the charismatic Peña got the full Jeter treatment from Fox Sports producers. Whenever something went well for the Astros, Fox always made sure, after showing about a dozen annoying crowd shots, to get Peña’s reaction, just as it did with Jeter way back in the Yankees championship years. He is photogenic, like most UMainers.

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6. I’m not opposed to it, but it’s a mild surprise the Red Sox made the $19.65 million qualifying offer to Nate Eovaldi on Thursday. His velocity was down significantly in the second half, and while that likely was a product of injuries — he dealt with back and shoulder inflammation — it’s also reasonable to wonder how healthy he will be in his age-33 season. He’s a terrific pitcher when right and has thrived in this market, so maybe the best outcome is he stays on something like a two-year, $32 million deal.

7. It also was a mild surprise, at least to me, that Michael Wacha did not get a qualifying offer considering how well he pitched when healthy last season. Wacha went 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 23 starts, and if you need further illustration of how thin the Sox roster was last season, he was third on the team in baseball-reference’s version of WAR (3.3), trailing Bogaerts (5.8) and Rafael Devers (4.4).

8. Unpopular opinion: In the long run, the Red Sox’ somewhat connected decisions to let Kyle Schwarber depart as a free agent and sign Trevor Story will prove justifiable, and perhaps even wise. Story is a talented, athletic player who had a lousy-luck year. But that comes with a caveat: They can’t move Story, a superb second baseman, to shortstop if Bogaerts leaves. He does not have the arm for it anymore.

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9. You want to end on a positive note? Fine, I’ll end on a positive note: I think Chris Sale is going to be healthy and effective next season. There were flickers of his past dominant self in his two starts before freak injuries chased him down again. Who’s with me? Anyone?

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