Red Sox

‘Boston has to keep him’: MLB Network analyst weighs in on Xander Bogaerts situation

Billy Ripken said it is "imperative" that the Red Sox keep Bogaerts and Rafael Devers together.

Xander Bogaerts
4x All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts could leave Boston and sign elsewhere. Bogaerts has spent the entirety of his professional career with the Red Sox. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

On November 7th, Xander Bogaerts opted out of the final three years on his contract with the Red Sox, officially becoming a free agent for the first time in his career.

Three weeks later, little clarity has been provided regarding the four-time All-Star shortstop’s future in Boston.

There has been no shortage of speculation on where Bogaerts will end up, however, and former MLB infielder and current MLB Network analyst Billy Ripken recently became the latest voice to weigh in on the situation.

On Monday’s episode of MLB Network’s “Hot Stove,” Ripken told his co-hosts that he believed the Red Sox would re-sign Bogaerts, pointing to the importance of keeping the left side of Boston’s infield together.

“The reason why I’m going with Boston [to re-sign Bogaerts] is because I think they have to keep the guy who plays third base next to him,” Ripken said, referencing Rafael Devers.

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Bogaerts and Devers have anchored the Red Sox’ infield for 5 1/2seasons (Devers played 58 games during his rookie season in 2017), and stood out in 2022 despite Boston’s struggles.

Bogaerts, though his power numbers were down compared to recent years, slashed .307/.377/.456 with 15 home runs and 73 RBI across 150 games. Devers slashed .295 /.358/.521 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 141 games while showing improved defense. Both made the AL All-Star roster, with Devers being voted in as a starter.

Ripken stated that Boston’s disappointing season could not be blamed on Bogaerts and Devers, and that the Red Sox needed the duo if they wanted to compete for a championship in 2023.

“Keep the left side of the infield. I don’t think the woes of the Red Sox can be pinned on that group,” he said. “However, whenever, and whatever they have to do … it’s imperative that group stays.”

“If they’re actually going to be in contention next year … that left side of the infield has got to be there for me … so I say Boston has to keep [Bogaerts],” Ripken continued.

Ripken’s co-host Matt Vasgersian also felt that Bogaerts would wind up back with the Red Sox, though he noted that Philadelphia could be a fit for the shortstop if Boston is unwilling to meet Bogaerts’s price.

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MLB Network reporter Keith Costas, who joined Monday’s episode of “Hot Stove,” was more confident that Philadelphia would land Bogaerts.

“I think the big question with Xander obviously if you’re talking a long-term deal, how long does he stay at shortstop? How does the defense hold up?” Costas asked. “And you look at somebody who knows him, Dave Dombrowski … I don’t think he’s concerned about how he sticks at short. He’s looking short-term. So let’s send [Bogaerts] down the East Coast to Philadelphia.”

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