Phillies Expected To Target Xander Bogaerts In Free Agency

Although there’s plenty left to be decided in the Phillies’ 2022 season, it’s never too early to speculate about what the club might have in store for the winter or for the 2023 campaign. To this end, Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe writes that “the Phillies will be eager suitors” for Xander Bogaertsprovided that Bogaerts (as expected) opts out of his contract with the Red Sox.

Reports already surfaced in June that Philadelphia would be targeting the shortstop position this winter, with the Phils looking to make a splash in a free agent class that is expected to include the likes of Bogaerts, Trea Turner, Dansby Swansonand Carlos Correa. Bogaerts and Correa are seen as virtual locks to exercise opt-out clauses, and Turner and Swanson are both scheduled to hit the open market (although Swanson and the Braves are exploring an extension).

Bogaerts’ talent makes him a natural target for any team that wants a big upgrade at shortstop, and the Phillies are perhaps an even more logical fit due to the past ties between Bogaerts and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. After all, Dombrowski was Boston’s president of baseball operations when Bogaerts signed his current contract — a six-year, $120MM extension that included an opt-out clause following the current season. Bogaerts would be leaving three years and $60MM on the table to opt out, but there is no doubt he’d easily top that number on the open market.

Of course, shortstop is not quite the problem position it was for the Phillies at the start of the season. After a very slow start in his rookie year, Bryson Stott has started to acclimate to the Show, hitting .305/.349/.488 with five home runs over his last 175 plate appearances. However, Stott has mostly split his time between second base and shortstop, with defensive metrics (albeit in a sample size of not even one full season) indicating that his glove plays better at second base. While Bogaerts’ own glovework at shortstop has been a question mark for years, he is currently enjoying the best defensive season of his career, with positive grades from the Outs Above Average, Defensive Runs Saved, and UZR/150 metrics.

If the Phillies were to sign Bogaerts and move Stott to second base, that leaves Jean Segura as the odd man out. The Phils hold a $17MM club option ($1MM buyout) on Segura for the 2023 season, and Segura is posting his typical level of offensive production, although he has only 301 plate appearances due to a fractured finger. Another option would be to retain Segura, and Stott and Segura at second and third base with Bogaerts as the new shortstop. This would displace the defensive-challenged Alec Bohm from third base, and Bohm could perhaps be tried at first base, and Rhys Hoskins — who is a free agent after 2023 — could become a trade chip.

There are lots of ways the Phillies could approach things this winter, and payroll will also be a factor in a pursuit of Bogaerts or any other top-flight shortstop. A lot of salary (Segura, Didi Gregorius, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Eflin, Corey Knebel, Kyle Gibson, Brad Hand, Jeurys Familia) could come off the books in the form of pending free agents and declined club options, but that also leaves a lot of roster holes to be filled. As per Roster Resource, the Phils are slated to pay the luxury tax in 2022, and thus they’d have to pay a higher penalty in draft pick compensation for signing a qualifying-offer free agent (ie Bogaerts).

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