When the New York Mets and Francisco Lindor reached an agreement on a deal spanning 10 years and $341 million on the eve of Opening Day, the consequences reverberated across the game:
• For the Mets, it was new owner Steve Cohen's biggest statement to his team's fan base since he bought the franchise over the winter. It validated Cohen's vow to spend and compete as a big market force -- something the Mets have seldom done in recent years. For a franchise perennially in the shadow of their neighbors in the Bronx, this is no small thing.
•For the star-studded class of free agent shortstops set to hit the market next winter, it served to set the bar for elite players at that position. Since the end of last season, two shortstops -- Lindor and Fernando Tatis Jr. — have signed extensions worth a combined $681 million. Surely, that's music to the ears of Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Javier Baez and Trevor Story -- and their respective agents. Whatever windfalls they were dreaming of when it's their turn at bat, surely the expectations have been raised.
• And, closer to home, for Xander Bogaerts, it's surely time for a re-appraisal. When Bogaerts agreed to a six-year, $120-million extension signed at the start of the 2019 season -- but which didn't kick in until 2020 -- it was thought, even then, Bogaerts had agreed to a team-friendly deal. The fact that Bogaerts instigated the talks and prompted agent Scott Boras to get a deal done was further evidence of that. And given what's happened to the shortstop market since, his deal is even more of a bargain. All of which should prove interesting at the end of next season (2022) when Bogaerts has the opportunity to opt-out of his deal.
Timing -- in life, in contract negotiations -- is often everything. A deal that appears to set the market one year can look ridiculously outdated a year or so later.
Need further proof of that maxim? Correa was recently offered a six-year, $120-million extension by the Astros -- the exact same deal agreed to by Bogaerts 24 months previous -- and could barely hide his disappointment, terming it "really low,'' and rejected it out of hand, vowing to test free agency.
Obviously, it's nearly impossible to compare two careers. There are countless variables to take into account -- injury history and age among them -- and it can't be forgotten that Bogaerts was determined to remain with the Sox, thereby compromising his own bargaining power and leverage.
But when a two-year-old deal with an AAV of $20 million is regarded as borderline insulting, it's a measure of how quickly things can change. And let's not forget the impact made by the pandemic.
This winter will feature a fascinating display of musical chairs. Among big market teams, the Dodgers and Cubs will be impacted -- whether they retain their own shortstops or go in another direction. Houston, a consistent contender for the past five seasons, will be in that group, too.
Among the franchises who could surely stand an upgrade at the position include the Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Oakland A's, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and a handful of others. It's not a stretch to say that at least half the franchises in the game could be improved with any one of the four free-agents-to-be.
When the music stops, not every team is going to find itself with an elite shortstop. Some will be outbid; others might be scared off by the demands.
And that's where Bogaerts comes in.