Lukewarm Stove: Red Sox Still Have a Shot at Bogaerts, Guardians Want Murphy, Relief Market About to Open, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Red Sox Still Have a Shot at Bogaerts, Guardians Want Murphy, Relief Market About to Open, More

Chicago Cubs

Buried among the many shortstop rumors covered yesterday was some surprising news from Peter Gammons, who reported that “…in the past three days, front office folks from 3 teams claim they’ve been told (Xander Bogaerts) has severed Boston ties and won’t be going back.”

That’s a pretty strongly-worded, as far as rumors go, with sources from three separate organizations all saying the same thing. And it had an air of believability to it. The Red Sox have so far failed to extend Bogaerts, they signed a different free agent shortstop last offseason (Trevor Story), and they changed leadership (Chaim Bloom) back in 2020. That certainly all seems to point to the end of this union … except maybe we’re not there yet. After all, this is the season of conflicting reports and leverage-grabs (and maybe also saving face). So let’s start there, because there’s been an update.

Red Sox and Bogaerts Not Done Yet

A source within the Red Sox organization told Chad Jennings (The Athletic), that they’d “be surprised” if Bogaerts actually said he had severed ties with the Red Sox, seeing as they “are still engaged and hopeful” for a reunion.

Others have reported the same, without the cloak of an unnamed source, to boot:

And as it turns out, the Red Sox aren’t on an island here.

Bogaerts’ agent, Scott Boras, spoke to the Boston Globe, saying what you’d expect him to say in a situation like this: “Xander is open to any and all voices in the free agent market,” Boras said. “We have not closed any doors on anyone.”

So do we buy it, with both sides agreeing on the message? Eh. I’m not so sure.

Bogaerts (and more specifically Boras) has every incentive in the world to want every team in MLB thinking that Bogaerts is still considering Boston. Removing a big market team from his list of suitors (for any reason) only hurts his market. The Red Sox, meanwhile, may want to save face, sure, or maybe they’re just … not be in the loop?

My guess? The whole “Bogaerts is done with Boston” thing is moderately true (absent some unexpected offer) and has been communicated to teams in some closed door negotiating process, but was never meant to get out there and/or back to Boston. And now everyone is just cleaning up that mess. So, I guess that’s good news for the Cubs, who were connected to Bogaerts as recently as yesterday.

Sean Murphy and the Guardians?

We know, for sure, that the Cubs, Cardinals, and Astros are in the market for a starting caliber catcher this offseason, because they get connected to just about every available backstop — via free agency or trade. But the Guardians are right up there with them, at the highest possible level:

And apparently something could get done as soon as next week!

To which I say … I don’t hate how this is shaking out. If the Guardians land Sean Murphy, the Astros get something done with Willson Contreras, and the Cubs close in on Christian Vázquez, the Cardinals will be left with far fewer options to replace Yadier Molina. They could still make a deal for one of those Blue Jays catchers, or maybe they go with Omar Narváez (both of which are fine options), but I’d rather they have less to choose from than more, especially because of what that should do to the relative price tag (the impact of scarcity and whatnot).

In any case, the A’s are going to get a HAUL for Sean Murphy, who’s young (28), coming off his best season (122 wRC+, 5.1 WAR), and under control for three more years via arbitration. I’d really rather the Cardinals NOT get him, because you know they would somehow wind up paying nothing.

Odds and Ends:

  • We haven’t discussed the relief market much this offseason, but the Cubs *will* go shopping there eventually. Maybe sooner than later? They might have to.
  • Brett: Then again, when it comes to the relief market, the Cubs of recent years have tended to stick in the “third tier” … and then transform those guys into second tier. It remains to be seen if they’ll get back into the pricier part of the market, given all the success they’ve had with relievers on less expensive deals.
  • At The Athletic, Jim Bowden did a little matchmaking for the remaining top-30 free agents, and I was happy to see he paired the Cubs with Kodai Senga (three years, $72 million? price tag keeps climbing, but why not go for it?). The Cubs may have a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball, but Senga would be a great start to the offseason. The rotation needs work too. And the defense. And the bullpen. Maybe the grounds crew and TV station too. The bathrooms at Wrigley Field are great, though. No notes.
  • Shintaro Fujinami has officially been posted, which means he has 45-days to sign with an MLB team. And any team that signs him will owe the Hanshin Tigers a posting fee (a percentage of his contract). Fujinami has a lot of early-career success and can throw extremely hard, but has also struggled with command and kinda bounced up and down over the years. He will be a really intriguing project for a team nevertheless, because the stuff is unquestionable.
  • Mitch Haniger has missed so much time with injuries and surgeries throughout his career, but has otherwise been pretty good when he’s actually on the field. He’s coming off an injury-shortened 2022 campaign, but did have a 121 wRC+ over 157 games in 2021. He’s got suitors.
  • The Yankees have prepared an offer for Aaron Judge in the range of 8 years and $300 million, which would make him the highest paid position player on an average annual value basis. But Jon Morosi thinks the Giants still have close to a 50-50 shot to sign him, and adds that a decision is expected next week. The only rub? If the Giants are going to woo Judge away, it’ll take more than a bigger number – they’ll have to demonstrate how they intend to win once they do pay him, and that will include spending even more this offseason.
  • If you’re itching for more rumory baseball notes, check out the latest from Robert Murray and Adam Weinrib, who just finished up a baseball rumor chat.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami