Commentary

The Red Sox overvalue where they stand, and undervalue those who stand with them

Xander Bogaerts's departure is just the latest example of the Red Sox undervaluing their homegrown talent.

Xander Bogaerts pointing to the Red Sox dugout as he begins rounding the bases on a home run.
Xander Bogaerts was the last remaining player from the 2013 Red Sox championship, and among the last left from 2018. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

COMMENTARY

On Tuesday, Sam Kennedy did what we (and he) are all too often stuck doing these days: Listening to a CEO speak. Talking to the Herald before the optimism of Wednesday night gave way to Xander Bogaerts, San Diego Padre, he made clear the Red Sox understood the stakes.

Ownership had met with Bogaerts this offseason. They were “very involved” in the negotiations to keep him in the only professional franchise he’d ever known.

“He knows exactly where we stand,” Kennedy said.

So do we, Sam. So do we.

On the wrong side. However you got there.

I don’t know where you are on the stages of grief — Don Orsillo’s exuberant tweet was a mood all its own — but at this address, we are not giving credit for getting to a very reasonable six-year, $160-odd million offer to Bogaerts months after it would have done the job. When it came, it was as contextually ridiculous as the $30 million to pass on free agency was in the spring.

Nor are we taking solace in the lunacy of giving a 30-year-old shortstop whose best offensive season was in 2019 an 11-year contract. Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, Jacob deGrom, Trea Turner . . . baseball’s trend du jour is to worry about later, later. Spread out big money over a decade to lessen the average annual value, and let your successor worry about the bookkeeping.

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Padres GM A.J. Preller didn’t sign Bogaerts to win in 2033. He’s worried about 2023. So are you, I bet.

Unless this is the moment you cease to worry about the Red Sox at all.

The teams now employing those players I’ve mentioned above? San Diego. Philadelphia. The Mets. The Yankees. They’re all still chasing. They haven’t won a title yet. They’re desperate, frankly. In a vacuum, they’re making the sort of mistakes you want your rivals to make so that down the road, you can be leaner and capitalize.

And yet, let’s consider the Yankees and Judge. Just like with the Red Sox, ownership was heavily involved in those negotiations for a player who, despite a commitment to explore the market, had made it some degree of clear he was happy to stay where he was.

“Hal Steinbrenner decided he needed Judge for his roster, his television network, his attendance, his marketing and — perhaps most vital of all — for the owner’s reputation against the mounting criticism and boos,” Joel Sherman wrote in the New York Post. “So Steinbrenner, on vacation in Italy, stayed in persistent contact . . . The Yankees owner could not imagine his lineup without Judge nor his day-to-day life explaining it.”

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Some Evil Empire. Sounds like a guy you’d want owning your team. Even if he’s naive enough to think he needs to publicly explain anything. That’s team president business!

Do the Red Sox not understand the baseball business in 2022? Hard for me to believe. A lot easier to reason they know that most of us out here, well, don’t.

They never wanted to extend Bogaerts. Well, not really anyway. The Red Sox committed nine figures to Masataka Yoshida barely 24 hours after he came available, after not making a single reasonable offer to their de-facto captain for six months. They wanted Bogaerts like I want an 80-inch OLED TV — never for list price, but if a guy in the Best Buy parking lot tells me he accidentally bought two and doesn’t want to go back in the store . . .

(Lest you forget the one nine-figure contract Chaim Bloom’s given out, the $140 million for Trevor Story, they believed was a massive underpay for a $200 million player.)

On Tuesday, the Sox architect told the Herald that “you want the players who want to play for you . . . As history has shown, you don’t want to bring players to Boston who don’t want to play in Boston.”

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It’s too easy a shot to point out Bogaerts was one of them. But this isn’t:

What exactly would make someone want to play in Boston right now?

Free agents more or less want one of two things: The most money, obviously, or the best opportunity to win a championship. The Red Sox aren’t favorites to meet the first criteria on anybody (except apparently punch-swinging Japanese outfielders no one else valued that highly). The second? How many teams you think are closer to a World Series?

Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Braves, and Padres, easy. Add in the Phillies? Blue Jays? Mariners? Cardinals? White Sox? Rays?

The Red Sox were eight figures short on White Sox masher José Abreu, a supposed “No. 1 outside target.” Losing Orlando’s Zach Eflin to an equal offer from the nearby Rays? I can’t be too critical, but the guy got away. And the “seven, eight, nine players” that Bloom has said he wants to add this year is at four, three of them being relievers, with the free-agent basket increasingly picked over.

Look. The Bruins are 21-3-1 after hordes of us buried firing Bruce Cassidy and keeping a flawed brain trust. Maybe this time, conventional wisdom will prove its usual stupid.

Maybe they empty their pockets for Carlos Correa (two years younger than Bogaerts), pull a trade or two, and they look much, much closer to a playoff team than they do right now.

But we are well into the days of “believe it when I see it.” The benefit of the doubt for Red Sox brass went out the window forever with Mookie Betts, and the glow of four world championships in 15 years went dark when they all but escorted Bogaerts, one of the last pieces left from them, from Fenway Park.

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The thing of it is, if they overpaid Xander Bogaerts? Almost no one would have criticized them for it. Overvaluing your own players is the safe side of the green on which to miss.

The modern Red Sox are making a habit of undervaluing them.

They better hope we’re the crazy ones.

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