Why the Atlanta Braves should sign Xander Bogaerts

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 09, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 09, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Braves are heavily focused on who will be playing shortstop in 2023. Many fans expected/hoped that the team would re-sign Dansby Swanson and solve that mystery fairly quickly. However, that didn’t happen and after an incredible season, Swanson has placed himself in a great position for free agency.

Swanson has the potential to sign a contract with an AAV close to $30 million. The entire situation is slightly similar to the Freddie Freeman situation at the end of last season. One hopes that Swanson will be more on top of and involved in his negotiations and make sure communication doesn’t break down.

Atlanta does need to continue with the assumption that he could decide to play elsewhere. There are some incredible options available in this years free agent class, including Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts wasn’t available until he recently decided to opt out of his remaining contract with the Red Sox.

Why is Xander Bogaerts is a great fit for the Atlanta Braves?

While Dansby is a perfect fit for Atlanta and a fan favorite, Bogaerts would be an incredible addition if Swanson decides not to return. What does he bring to the table and would it be a sound investment for Atlanta?

Boston’s superstar infielder opted out of the remaining $60 million of his contract with the Red Sox on Monday. The Aruba native has always impressed at the plate and has continued to flourish in the prime of his career. He carries a .292/.356/.458 slash line over the past decade including an .814 OPS.

Offensively in 2022, Bogaerts power dipped a bit as he normally has a slugging percentage in the .500 range. However, he was still incredibly consistent finishing the year with a .307 average including 15 home runs and 73 RBI. He drew 57 walks and struck out 118 times.

Xander carries a wRC+ (which measures Runs Created and adjusts the number to account for important external factors, like ballpark or era) of 118. 100 is considered average when it comes to this particular metric.

In 2022, Bogaerts carried a wRC+ of 134 which is the second best of his career. Among qualified shortstops, Bogaerts is only behind Francisco Lindor and Dansby Swanson in fWAR this season, while he only trailing Carlos Correa in wRC+. As a result, Atlanta wouldn’t necessarily be losing any offensive value by signing Bogaerts. However, there is one area of concern when considering signing the Boston shortstop.

As far as defense goes, Bogaerts has not always been known as the best in that department. His career for Outs Above Average (OAA), Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) are -35, -51, and 7.3, respectively. These numbers are decidedly not great.

For context, Dansby Swanson’s career numbers in those areas are 34 OAA, 16 DRS, and -2.3 UZR. Bogaerts has an edge in the UZR department which shows he has a tad more range, but the rest of the numbers are pretty awful.

So, how did Bogaerts fare in 2022 defensively? He had one of the best seasons he’s ever had in that area. He finished with 4 DRS, a 4.9 UZR, and recorded 5 Outs Above Average. In 2021, those numbers previously were -5 DRS, 2.3 UZR, and -9 OAA. That is a big improvement and could help Bogaerts’ case in contract discussions.

You’d be getting an absolutely valuable and consistent bat with Bogaerts. Swanson was incredibly clutch for Atlanta, but the fact that Bogaerts may be even better at the plate speaks volumes of how good of a player he is. If he continues to trend in the right direction defensively (and let’s be honest, Ron Washington could help anyone) this would be an absolute no brainer for Atlanta.

Contract Expectations

There will be plenty of teams hoping to gain Bogaerts services in 2022, including Boston. They will have to do so knowing Xander is worthy of a multi-year deal. However, they did sign Trevor Story to a multi-year contract last offseason so it may influence their decision a bit. Along with Swanson, Turner, and Correa, Bogaerts has potential for a multi-year contract in excess of $25 million.

Jon Heyman seems to believe that the Red Sox All-Star will command a deal of 8 years and $225 million. That’s an AAV of roughly $28 million and similar in value to what the Braves could expect to pay Swanson annually if not more. It seems more realistic that Bogaerts receives a six year deal with an option for a 7th year. The $28 million mark seems like a reasonable ceiling and would make him the fourth-highest-paid shortstop in all of baseball.

This certainly won’t be an easy investment to make and is a huge commitment, but sometimes that’s what you have to give for one of the best talents in the game. Xander is in the prime of his career and has continually proven his worth at the plate. The question is are the Braves willing to take a chance on his less than stellar defense in the process?

dark. Next. Odorizzi traded to Texas for Kolby Allard

The offseason will continue to bring surprises and interesting storylines. It’s certainly a great time to be a baseball fan.