Xander Bogaerts & Mookie Betts: Who is More Valuable?

by Will Hyland | Posted on Monday, June 19th, 2017
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Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts have become cornerstones of the Red Sox franchise over the past three-four seasons. Their common ability to produce runs and change the game defensively unquestionably make the Boston Red Sox a better ball club.

In addition, these two are franchise-type players whom former Red Sox regimes signed and developed as such. Both excelled in the minor leagues and were named the top prospect in the organization at one point or another.

Bogaerts came onto the scene in August of 2013 and stayed with the club for their World Series championship run. After a slumping year in 2014, Bogaerts hit .320 in 2015 and .294 in 2016 and started the All-Star Game at shortstop last season. This year, he is hitting .318 and drove in 5 runs Sunday night.

Betts ascended quickly from Double-A to the big leagues in early 2014 and has been a presence in Boston’s future plans ever since. An infielder turned outfielder, Betts became the starting right fielder in 2015 and hit .291 with 18 home runs. The following season, he hit .318 with 31 home runs. Despite being 4th in RBI, 2nd in hits, 2nd in AVG, 2nd in runs, and 3rd in doubles, Betts was runner-up in the 2016 AL MVP race to Mike Trout.

Clearly, these two have tremendous value to the Boston Red Sox offensively and defensively. However, Bogaerts will be a free agent after 2019 and Betts will be a free agent after 2020. The latter is arbitration eligible for three seasons after this one while the prior is arbitration eligible for two seasons.

Their impending free agency also coincides with the possibility of Chris Sale, Christian Vazquez, Hanley Ramirez, Rick Porcello, and Craig Kimbrel testing the waters between 2018 and 2020.

Even though the Red Sox will likely lose some monetary weight from either Allen Craig, Pablo Sandoval, Rusney Castillo, or even David Price should he opt out – the likelihood that the Red Sox could sign Bogaerts, Betts, Sale, etc. is extremely unlikely. Especially considering the free agent frenzy that the MLB offseason creates. Did I mention that Bogaerts is a Scott Boras client?

That being said, should the Sox only be able to sign one of the two, who is more valuable?

At face value, Betts is seemingly the better player. He is faster and agiler, has rawer power, and he tends to hit slumps less often than Bogaerts. Although that really isn’t the question here.

Think about how many shortstops the Red Sox went through between Nomar Garciaparra and Bogaerts. We’re talking at least Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Nick Green, Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Mike Aviles, and Stephen Drew. Meanwhile, in right field they’ve gone from Trot Nixon to JD Drew to Shane Victorino to Betts with just a few brief interruptions in the same time span.

Based on that, I’d argue that this organization finds outfielders better than shortstops and that ultimately outfielders are easier to replace and reorder. Sure, the Red Sox could find options at shortstop, but who’s to say they won’t become another short fix? In the farm system, the Red Sox do have the likes of C.J. Chatham in Class-A Greenville, but no one knows if he will offer as much stability as Bogaerts.

Likewise, every bona fide contender has a franchise shortstop right now. Corey Seager in Los Angeles, Francisco Lindor in Cleveland, and Carlos Correa in Houston just to name a few. I’m afraid the Red Sox would fall behind the pack of they lost Bogaerts to someone else. Whereas I have to think they’d find a way to get another 30+ homer outfielder with speed (Khris Davis, Alex Gordon).

Both are generational-type players and neither are invaluable. Hopefully, they will find a way to keep the two and potentially Chris Sale.

But nothing is a guarantee.

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Will Hyland
About the Author

Will Hyland is a proud Mainer with a strong passion for the game of baseball. He is a sophomore at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire, where he does play-by-play for the Chargers baseball and hockey teams. Other work can be found at Boston's TitleTownTalk and the Bangor Daily News. Follow him on twitter @willhyland.

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