Earlier today, Bob Nightengale reported that Xander Bogaerts—not the other three shortstops—is the Cubs’ priority move, and now we have another report strongly suggesting the same thing.
Marino Pepén covers the Red Sox, and he’s dealt with them a lot this offseason. Today he dropped a big over Bogaerts:
I don’t even need to use Google Translate for that. According to Pepén, the Cubs are “deeply interested” in Bogaerts and are expected to make a formal offer within hours.
If that’s true, that’s important.
Bogaerts, 30, is the oldest of the shortstop class and arguably the hardest to keep up with at shortstop, but he’s also been the most consistent with the bat overall for the longest time. He has posted a 129 wRC+ or better for five consecutive seasons. The expectation is that he won’t get as much as Carlos Correa or Trea Turner, but he could push for another six years and $200 million if things get really exciting.
As for the report itself, there’s one aspect I want to be a little wary of: Since Pepén is covering the Red Sox, you have to wonder where this news is coming from. It wouldn’t be the Cubs’ side, I’m going to speculate, meaning it’s either from the Red Sox… or more likely from the Bogaerts camp. And why would Bogaerts’ camp want it there that the Cubs are about to make him an offer? Well, could it be because they have a preferred team in mind that they want to leave quickly with an acceptable offer? “Hey, if you don’t lock me up in a few hours, Red Sox, I could actually be gone…. “
More evidence that this could be a print campaign? Consider this, which came out a little earlier this afternoon:
Let’s see if this actually happens, folks. I hope the Cubs actually get a chance to make a serious bid.
UPDATE: No word yet on an offer from the Cubs, but a new report out of Boston leads me to believe my theory – that this was a push from Bogaerts’ camp to finally bring the Red Sox forward – was correct:
The article reads a lot about the kind of thing we saw at the start and just after the 2014 season, another time the Red Sox let a big free agent slip away. That time it was Jon Lester. And man, some parallels are wild, right up to the report indicating that the Red Sox made a lowball offer to Bogaerts late in Spring Training (that happened to Lester!). It was thought of Lester then, and Bogaerts now, that the Red Sox may never have intended to keep him.
… and maybe the Cubs can once again be the beneficiary at the Winter Meetings?
The report indicates there are 8 to 11 interested teams (weirdly vague and too specific?), though the Cubs get a special mention: “The Cubs view the widely respected Bogaerts as a key to what they believe is a resurgence to come.” (Another Lester parallel!) And mention is made of Bogaerts’ earlier time spent in Boston with David Ross. (ANOTHER!)
The Phillies are also getting attention thanks to the connection with Dave Dombrowski. So I don’t want to give the impression that this is suddenly all about the Cubs. Many teams want Bogaerts. But I think – Winter Meetings style – made it clear today that the Cubs actually take Bogaerts pretty seriously as a free agent target.