BOSTON — With Dave Dombrowski’s Opening Day deadline rapidly approaching and time to negotiate a new deal running out, Xander Bogaerts had a straightforward message for his superagent, Scott Boras.
“Get me the best deal we can get to stay here,” Bogaerts told Boras. “This is what I know. This is what I enjoy. I enjoy being here. I love the organization. A lot of young kids on the team, I want to be there to help and see them grow up — just like me. It’s a tough process when you’re young and I understand that. So I’m just trying to be one of the guys they can lean on.”
“I don’t think it was that hard,” Bogaerts added. “I just let (Boras) know what I wanted... I knew what I wanted.”
And with that, the two sides agreed on a six-year, $120 million extension to keep Bogaerts in Boston for the foreseeable future.
In baseball’s current blockbuster-or-bust landscape, Bogaerts’ deal was surprisingly fair for both sides; $20 million per season is a fine salary for a player of his caliber, but it’s not a decade-plus albatross that will hamstring the Red Sox down the road.
Though Boras is notorious for telling his clients to test free agency — and landing massive deals in that open marketplace — being the happiest player meant more to Bogaerts than being the highest-paid one.
“If you look at the history I think it’s pretty much accurate that the best deals are (in free agency),” Bogaerts agreed. “(Boras) is obviously going to give you his information. But he’s not going to be like, ‘You know what? Nah, we’re not going to do this and you’re going to wait until free agency.’ He can’t influence you like that.
“I think in my case I just wanted to see if he could get the best deal here, try to stay here because obviously it meant a lot,” Bogaerts continued. “He’ll give you the information and this and that, but he can’t in the end make the decision for you.
“I did think I left some on the table, but that really doesn’t matter. Because who knows if I would have gotten hurt on April 1 and had to be out the whole season? It would have been different then.”
The shortstop explained that he’s grown to love the culture, the teammates, and most of all, the winning Boston provides. He’s optimistic that with the talent in the Red Sox clubhouse, there are more World Series titles on the way.
“I’ve been here. I’ve won two rings,” Bogaerts said. “I don’t think there was any doubt that it’ll be easier to get two more rings here than any other place. What we have built here, the future and all the guys that are on our team. I think there is a great, great chance of winning multiple (championships), hopefully, with the team we have.”
Now 26 years old, becoming a mentor is something Bogaerts has prioritized.
Still a teenager when he made his Red Sox debut, the shortstop is one of the few players that knows the pressure of being fast-tracked to the big leagues. With a young core now, that experience is proving valuable in the clubhouse.
“He’s the only one that can relate with Raffy (Devers),” Alex Cora said. “To come here when you’re 19 and trying to win a World Series. He’s the only one in that clubhouse that can relate to that. And he’s been great for him.”
That mentorship paid dividends earlier this month.
In a 7-6 comeback win over the Blue Jays, Devers delivered his first career walk-off hit, a single through the right side of the infield off Ken Giles. Afterward, Cora revealed Bogaerts deserved credit, too, but not for something that happened on the field.
“(Devers) got a slider in the previous at-bat that he just missed it,” Cora said. “He’s so hard on himself that sometimes it just carries to the next at-bat or carries to the field. I saw Xander say, ‘Just relax. You got one left, you got one left.’”
Devers calmed down and certainly made the most of that next at-bat.
Already a popular presence in the clubhouse, Bogaerts has tried to take another step as a leader now that he knows he’ll be in Boston for the long haul.
“I think, especially after signing, I just kind of felt a greater responsibility in guiding the younger guys that are coming up,” Bogaerts said. “They’re pretty much like me when I came up. I was young. The difference with me and with them is that they’re coming up at a time where we have to, have to win.
“My first couple years, we won the first year, but the next two years we were like last or almost last. So it was a different environment,” he explained. “They’ve just gotta understand that I know it’s hard, and the expectations are so high, but the more pressure they add on themselves is not going to do them right.”
Now a veteran, Bogaerts has grown to love those lofty exceptions and Boston’s must-win environment — and he put his money where his mouth was to prove it.
Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason