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  • Xander Bogaerts Represents a Happy Medium for the Twins


    Nash Walker

    Carlos Correa is likely to require a long, historically expensive contract in free agency. He's a premier defensive shortstop, sure to stick there for years to come. Xander Bogaerts won't come at the same price tag and isn't likely to stick at short into his 30s, making him a terrific happy medium for the highly future-conscious Twins.

    Image courtesy of © James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

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    Corey Seager and Scott Boras secured a massive 10-year, $330 million contract with the Rangers just before the lockout started in 2021. Few were surprised, as Seager was just 27 years old and coming off two seasons where he hit .306/.381/.545 in 147 games for the Dodgers. 

    Seager was expected to earn a boatload, and he did. Boras, after negotiating Carlos Correa’s unique three-year, two opt-outs deal with the Twins, is seeking another huge payday. Correa is surely looking for a very similar contract to what Seager inked with Texas. Correa is a better defender, more durable and through his age-27 season, much more valuable than Seager. 

    Seager’s bat is the draw but even there, Correa stands toe-to-toe. Seager posted a 131 OPS+ through his age-27 season, while Correa sits at 129. Defensively, Seager has posted negative-8 Defense Runs Saved at short, while Correa has saved a positive-70. Add in Correa’s incredible postseason pedigree and he’s worth every penny (and probably more) of the $330 million Seager received. 

    The largest contract the Twins have ever handed out was to their homegrown future Hall-of-Famer Joe Mauer. Mauer’s eight-year, $184 million extension is worth 56% of what Seager signed for. The Twins have never signed a free agent for even $100 million and their largest spree (Josh Donaldson ) resulted in a salary dump halfway through the deal. 

    The Twins are likely to make Correa a considerable offer but it’s almost certain to fall well short of the final price. Is there a world where you see the Twins handing out a $300 million contract? Correa’s return feels futile. 

    Enter a much more affordable and viable happy medium: Xander Bogaerts

    Bogaerts, 30, is the oldest of the four premier shortstops on the market. Because of his age and defensive questions, Bogaerts is unlikely to receive a contract on the level of Seager and Correa. The Twins may not be willing to splurge for $330 million, but would they do $100 million less?

    Among the four top shortstops on the market, Bogaerts has been the best hitter over the last five seasons. He leads Correa, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson in on-base percentage (.373), slugging percentage (.508), home runs (105) and RBI (400). Adjusting for league and ballpark, Bogaerts’ 133 OPS+ is the best of the bunch. 

    Bogaerts has posted an OPS at 28% or better than the league average for five straight years while appearing in 641 of 708 games (90%). Bogaerts hits for a high average, doesn’t really strike out and has hit 20 or more homers in three of the last five seasons. He's been the face of the Red Sox, already logging over 1,000 games in a Boston uniform. 

    So why won’t he get as big of a payday as Correa?

    Well, Bogaerts is now into his 30s and isn’t hitting for as much power as he once did. Bogaerts’ slugging percentage has slowly declined since its high-mark in 2019 (.555), with 2022 marking his lowest slug and barrel rate since 2017. Bogaerts hit only 15 homers in 150 games while ranking in just the 35th percentile in average exit velocity. 

    Defensively, Bogaerts has the lowest dWAR of the four since 2018 (1.6). While he saved a career high four runs in 2022, Bogaerts has been a shaky defensive shortstop in his career. Did he turn a corner in 2022? Or was it a true outlier on an otherwise shoddy track record with a weaker-than-average arm?

    Those questions shouldn’t concern the Twins as much as other clubs. Bogaerts is a perfect segue to Royce Lewis or Brooks Lee , the Twins’ hopeful shortstop(s) of the future. Bogaerts could man short for a year or two before moving to second or third base. Teams shouldn’t sign Bogaerts expecting him to play short for the next decade and in the Twins’ case, that’s OK. 

    Even in a down power year, Bogaerts posted 5.7 b-Wins Above Replacement, tied for seventh most in the American League. Bogaerts hit .307/.377/.456 in arguably the best division in baseball. The 1-2 punch of

    Luis Arraez and Bogaerts would be a major headache for pitchers at the top of a lineup, with the thump of Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco and José Miranda lurking. 

    It’s difficult to pinpoint just how much Bogaerts will receive in free agency and whether his incumbent Red Sox will work hard to keep him. Boston just signed Trevor Story

    to a $140 million contract, presumably expecting him to play short upon Bogaerts’ departure. Boston was unable to lock Bogaerts up before the season and now it feels more real than ever that this long-standing relationship is coming to an end. 

    The most interesting (and encouraging) aspect of this free agent class is the questionable involvement of the top markets. The Yankees clearly believe top prospect Anthony Volpe is close, while the Dodgers could just re-sign Turner. The Mets have Francisco Lindor on a $341 million deal and the Red Sox may move Story back to his position. The Cubs, Phillies, Braves, and Cardinals are among the likeliest suitors for the top four. 

    A decent contract comp for Bogaerts could be Marcus Semien, who signed a 7-year, $175 million deal with the Texas Rangers last winter. The Twins have clean books and a desire to avoid long contracts, so could they woo Bogaerts with a five-year, $175 million deal ($35 million per year)? It feels more viable than Correa, at least. 

    Bogaerts, like Correa, is represented by Boras. It should be fascinating to see how this winter plays out for both of them, with the Twins a viable suitor for each. What do you think? Is Bogaerts a happy medium for the Twins, in both price and position projection?

    Comment below!

     

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    I wouldn't mind Bogaerts at all.  It might come down to who he is pared with at 3rd base as to how much of a defensive asset or liability he would be, but the bat would make up for it over a 162 game season.  I am a little confused in the article, though.  On one hand it says he would be a good segue to our SS of the future, moving to 2nd or 3rd base over time.  On the other hand it talks about a 5 year deal he might be willing to take, meaning he would displace at 2nd or 3rd.........who?  Like in musical chairs, what happens to the rest of the infield when the music stops?  Who goes where?  And who doesn't have a seat left?  I would want to think about that before I give a long term deal to a short term SS who we will want to move around fairly soon.  Maybe sign him to that type of deal and trade both Polanco and Urshella, making room for the kids we have who appear ready?  The money just might work that way.

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    GREAT post Nash !  First, I just love listening to Pedro Martinez talk baseball !  What an honest assessment of his pitching career.  As good as he was (and boy was he good) he's spot on in admitting he was always reluctant to let the bullpen come in to finish the game.  If he'd have pitched to a 7-inning expectation (pacing himself for 7) how much better could he have been?  It's in interesting thought.  Correa's breakdown was great as well.

    I totally agree that Bogaerts would be a tremendous consolation prize.  He's NOT a Gold Glove SS like Correa, but he's adequate.  He's a better hitter though.  More consistent, less prone to slumps.  And he aligns with the Twins short and long term plans in that he can shift to another position as he ages while the Twins determine if Royce Lewis or Brooks Lee is the SS of the future.  Of ALL the SS options the Twins could have "post Correa" I think Bogaerts is the best one to go after. 

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    "Defensive Shortstop" ? Huh? Best 2-way shortstop Twins have had in 25 years!! Doesn't matter if Twins don't get Pitching. Watch the Playoffs. That's Professional Pitching that the Twins just don't have. Maybe 2 -3 Twins Pitchers could be on these staffs in the playoffs. That's the whole story. No Ace. No Playoffs.

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    48 minutes ago, MGM4706 said:

    "Defensive Shortstop" ? Huh? Best 2-way shortstop Twins have had in 25 years!! Doesn't matter if Twins don't get Pitching. Watch the Playoffs. That's Professional Pitching that the Twins just don't have. Maybe 2 -3 Twins Pitchers could be on these staffs in the playoffs. That's the whole story. No Ace. No Playoffs.tje

    Can the Twins pick up one of these "Aces" at a Costco?  

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    Twins need pitching.  Good pitching.  The amount of monies being talked about here would leave very little payroll flexibility to improve in other areas.  I would be all for signing Correa if I knew we had more payroll to improve the team.  I just don't see the twins dipping into expensive free agents long term.

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    Defensively, Bogaerts has the lowest dWAR of the four since 2018

    I wish they didn't even publish dWAR. Use RField to compare players defense at the same position. Games spent as a DH will lower a player's dWAR (because dWAR includes the positional adjustment) but not affect their RField number.

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    I hadn't honestly considered Bogaerts previously as I simply expect Boston to step up and keep him. His offense has been pretty damn good previously and yes, he just might be a solid 3B/2B after 3 yrs and even DH a little. 

    It's not a bad idea really.

    But....why pay him $35M per for 5yrs and not pay the younger Correa the same $ for an additional 2-3yrs?? We're talking same annual cost and the same age the contract expires. 

    I don't like the idea of my SS being transitioned in a couple of years to another spot because he can't play the position any longer and costing $35M. I think I'd trust Correa to stick at SS longer were I a betting man. And his sticking at SS longer works for Lewis, Lee, Miranda, and probably Julien as well to flesh out the infield. Not to mention Polanco may not go anywhere.

    Again, it's not a bad idea on the surface. I just don't see any solid fit after the first couple of years.

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    Is there reason to believe that one or the other is more likely to decline at an earlier age? Assuming there isn’t I don’t see why the Twins would want to offer the same AAV to Bogaerts when a greater ratio of his contract would be in his decline phase. I suppose someone will pay him that shortstop premium but I think he needs to be closer to 5/140 for it to make sense.

     

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    Too expensive and too long term for SS (which really needs to be glove-first). And as several have pointed out, we need an ace before we need a SS, and we have other holes at C and OF that Bogaerts cannot fill (and will keep us from filling by soaking up most the FA money). Just a reminder that WE WERE NOT GOOD IN A BAD DIVISION this year WITH Correa.

    (And I guess I agree with @DocBauer's point; if you are going to this level, why not pay Correa for two more years since he is two years younger? Though I should add that I think both are a bad idea. Get Rodón while we have the coin free to do it.)

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    Not a bad idea.  I doubt Correa will sign for 5 years and maybe not even 7 since he is younger.  This idea works if we can get him for 5 or less years AND forsee a spot for him for the last 3 years of that contract.

    Keep in mind that we sure could have used his hitting this year when we left all of those left on base.

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    2 hours ago, DJL44 said:

    I wish they didn't even publish dWAR. Use RField to compare players defense at the same position. Games spent as a DH will lower a player's dWAR (because dWAR includes the positional adjustment) but not affect their RField number.

    WAR is backward looking.  "What did the guy contribute during the season in question?"  If he DHed, then the contribution is lower - Buxton's dWAR suffers for that reason in 2022 as well, as he wasn't good to go in CF.  It's fair in one sense, unilluminating in another.

    The data is there but it's not presented usefully for projecting.  I too would like to see some kind of split-outs, because that would be used for deciding what if a guy played a position full time.  Gordon, Miranda, Arraez, and I'm probably forgetting someone - hard to see where the opportunities are on all of them.  Positional flexibility is desirable but blended stats make it hard

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    The big 4 will want big bucks & long term, If we don't land Correa, I wouldn't be interested in any of the others, I don't want to sign Bogaert to big SS money for him to play 3B. If I'm paying someone big money to play SS, I want him to stick at SS and play Lewis, Lee or Martin at 3B. 

    My 2nd choice is to trade for IKF for a 1yr. 

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    1 hour ago, DJL44 said:

    I think they could make an ace if they let Duran start

    What is with everyone wanting Duran to go back to the Rotation. He is fine as a set-up guy and I think will be an awesome closer. Because if he goes back to the rotation, he will have to take some velo off the pitches and make sure he can pitch for 5 innings. It is okay to have a great pitcher in a relief role. Look a Mariano Rivera. He started as a Starter, then filled in as a Reliever and the rest is history. Duran doesn't fit the bill for a Twins' starter as a flamethrower. 

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    7 year, $200 million. It’s the Biggest Twins contract in history and he’s getting paid a premium but it’s not an incredibly long guarantee and gets you a stud SS for a few years before he like moves to a different position. Lewis and Lee can kick him over to third for 2024 after Urshela leaves and if you pay him low in 2023 you can probably go get an Ace in the process. Trade Kepler and pay Bogaerts $20-$25 in 2023 and you can probably go get Carlos Rodon, this front office has a suprising amount of money to deal out in the off-season.

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    "IF" you are going to hand out long term deals to position players, then I would prefer someone that plays both sides of the ball and is under the age of 30. I would either go all in for Correa or find a placeholder.

    That said, it this will be the last year in a few when they are so many good SS on the FA market. They better be sure Lewis or Lee can stick there if they don't end up getting someone this offseason. Of course, there are always trades. 

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    Happy medium is exactly what the Twins need to avoid in all their acquisitions going forward. Bogaerts would use up too much of the free agent budget without elite long term performance. I am also not crazy about using prospect capital to trade for a one year solution. If Lewis is on schedule I would bring back Urshela and tell him and Gordon that they can battle it out to be the starter until Lewis comes back. 

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    3 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    I think you can pick one up at Ace Hardware.

    Ops! Sorry but they limited one per customer but some got greedy & they ran out! Shoot Twins missed out again!

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    I had honestly forgotten how consistently good he's been at the plate.  My recollection was he's been up and down, but his last mediocre season was when he was 24.  Since then his OPS+ has been between 128 and 139 for five years.  And decent defense?  I like Correa better but if the terms for Bogaerts are better then go get 'um.

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    4 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    The big 4 will want big bucks & long term, If we don't land Correa, I wouldn't be interested in any of the others, I don't want to sign Bogaert to big SS money for him to play 3B. If I'm paying someone big money to play SS, I want him to stick at SS and play Lewis, Lee or Martin at 3B. 

    My 2nd choice is to trade for IKF for a 1yr. 

    Agree 100%.  There has been a lot of angst on the TD about whether any of our up-and-comers (Lewis, Lee, Martin, and even Miller) can stick at SS.  So, why would we want to spend upwards of $30MM for someone to play mediocre SS for a couple of years and them move to 3B?   If that’s the case, we’d a) be way overpaying for our 3rd baseman, b) still have to solve SS, and c) be blocking one of our top targets (who’d be making 700k).

    Sign Correa.  We have the money and in 8 years $30MM will only really be about $15MM.  Besides, with our new young core manning lots of roster spots, we’d have plenty of cash left over for pitching FAs - a SP and a few quality relievers.
     

     

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    17 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    Agree 100%.  There has been a lot of angst on the TD about whether any of our up-and-comers (Lewis, Lee, Martin, and even Miller) can stick at SS.  So, why would we want to spend upwards of $30MM for someone to play mediocre SS for a couple of years and them move to 3B?   If that’s the case, we’d a) be way overpaying for our 3rd baseman, b) still have to solve SS, and c) be blocking one of our top targets (who’d be making 700k).

    Sign Correa.  We have the money and in 8 years $30MM will only really be about $15MM.  Besides, with our new young core manning lots of roster spots, we’d have plenty of cash left over for pitching FAs - a SP and a few quality relievers.
     

     

    I forgot to mention Miranda

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    2 hours ago, Linus said:

    Happy medium is exactly what the Twins need to avoid in all their acquisitions going forward. Bogaerts would use up too much of the free agent budget without elite long term performance. I am also not crazy about using prospect capital to trade for a one year solution. If Lewis is on schedule I would bring back Urshela and tell him and Gordon that they can battle it out to be the starter until Lewis comes back. 

    Too much of the free agent budget for what?

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    8 hours ago, mac098 said:

    What is with everyone wanting Duran to go back to the Rotation. He is fine as a set-up guy and I think will be an awesome closer. Because if he goes back to the rotation, he will have to take some velo off the pitches and make sure he can pitch for 5 innings. It is okay to have a great pitcher in a relief role. Look a Mariano Rivera. He started as a Starter, then filled in as a Reliever and the rest is history. Duran doesn't fit the bill for a Twins' starter as a flamethrower. 

    When you throw 101 you can afford to lose a little velocity. He'd still be unhittable at 98 MPH.

    Imagine a world where Johan Santana never left the bullpen. That's the kind of stuff Duran has. It's a shame to only use it 60 innings per season.

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    8 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

    When you throw 101 you can afford to lose a little velocity. He'd still be unhittable at 98 MPH.

    Imagine a world where Johan Santana never left the bullpen. That's the kind of stuff Duran has. It's a shame to only use it 60 innings per season.

    [Comment redacted - I just remembered this is a Bogaerts thread]

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