There will be a lot of debating this offseason regarding which one of the big free agent shortstops the Chicago Cubs should go after. While each candidate has their upside, this is the case for four-time All-Star Xander Bogaerts.
Bogaerts, 30, opted out of the remainder of his six-year, $120 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. He is coming off a season in which he slashed .307/.377/.456 with 15 home runs, a .833 OPS, 134 wRC+, and was an overall 6.1 fWAR player. Bogaerts was 15th in all of baseball in fWAR and made $20 million in 2022.
2022 was no fluke, Bogaerts has had an incredibly accomplished career as an MLB player.
In addition to four All-Star nods, he is a four-time Silver Slugger winner and a two-time World Series champion. In 2019, he finished fifth in AL MVP voting. Overall, he boasts a career .292/.356/.458 slash, with 156 home runs, .814 OPS, 118 wRC+, 308 doubles and 34.2 fWAR.
Since 2019 (his last 505 games), he has hit .304/.376/.503 with a .879 OPS and 134 wRC+. He has averaged roughly 21 home runs a season over that span. It is worth noting his OPS and games played since 2019 are both highest among him, Trea Turner and Carlos Correa.
What would he bring to the Cubs?
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts would be a tremendous fit for the Chicago Cubs
An experienced, well-balanced offensive player. He has 15-20 home run power with the ability to hit for a good average, get on base at an above-average clip and run the bases exceptionally. While not a guy who will steal a lot, his 4.4 UBR (Ultimate Base Running) was third-best in all of baseball last season. UBR is about efficient baserunning that leads to runs, not stolen bases or caught stealing. Bogaerts would be one of the primary anchors of Cubs the offense going forward if he were to land in Chicago.
Bogaerts is primarily a shortstop, and last year he had his best defensive season at short per certain key FanGraphs defensive metrics. He posted a career high 4.9 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) and 4 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved).
Could he slide over to third? He played third at the beginning of his MLB career before shifting to short full-time. Rafael Devers has been the man at the hot corner in Boston since 2017. While not the position he has been at primarily, he has played third before. The question would be if he wants to shift back to third, as he has expressed his love for the shortstop position. It really should not be too much of a determining factor at the end of the day. If the Cubs can land him and he wants to play short while Nico Hoerner shifts back to second, so be it.
This will obviously require a sizeable investment. Spotrac has an estimated market value of around $31 million a year. The Cubs have plenty of money to spend, he should not be off the table for the resources they have. Bogaerts is definitely a guy they should explore hard into.