Xander Bogaerts, right, and Mookie Betts have been playing together since 2014, but Betts’ future with the Red Sox is uncertain as he enters his final season before free agency. Elise Amendola/Assoicated Press

SAN DIEGO — Xander Bogaerts has had a little more time to himself this offseason, and he has used some of it in the same way as Boston Red Sox fans: Pondering about the uncertainty facing the future of the team.

The Red Sox shortstop is also following the rumor mill, and he’s not unlike many in Boston who are getting anxious about what the team might look like in 2020.

It’s obviously a little more personal to Bogaerts. As the Red Sox continued to monitor the market during MLB’s winter meetings, that anxiety only built.

“Obviously you would want the whole team to be back, but it’s really getting to a point now where you have to make decisions, some tough decisions,” said Bogaerts, who was at the meetings to be recognized on the inaugural All-MLB team. “I’m happy I’m not the one that has to make them. If it was up to me, I’d try to keep everyone. They have good guys in position for that now. As I said, I’m also anxious to see what’s going to happen because there’s been a lot of talk and a lot of uncertainty.”

It’s no secret that the Red Sox are attempting to shed payroll after publicly setting a goal of getting under the $208 million competitive balance tax in 2020. That means big changes are afoot and the team could look significantly different.

David Price, who has three years and $96 million left on his contract, is reportedly being targeted by multiple teams via trade.


But some of Bogaerts’ closer friends might be out the door, and that’s not lost on the shortstop. He’s seen the rumors revolving around Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. – both of whom he’s been teammates with for a long time but are slated to hit free agency next winter – and he’s mentally preparing himself for the possibility that they could be gone.

“I think it’s disappointing maybe, but you can’t play together for 20, 25 years,” Bogaerts said. “I mean, it’s just going to be a sad moment if anyone leaves or stuff like that, but they have their own lives, they should know what choices are good for them in the future. Obviously the relationships you build with these guys, especially guys like Jackie and Mookie, those are the main guys there’s a lot of talk around, and those are guys I came up knowing a lot about.

“Those are all guys you feel like they’re your brothers. You just hope that they’re with you forever, but it’s hard.”

The decision on Betts might be the hardest, and it’s even made Bogaerts think about what could possibly be their last moment on a field together as teammates, when Betts scored the winning run against the Orioles in the season finale.

“I think I was in that picture when he got the last run of the year last year, so that will be a nice picture if he’s gone,” Bogaerts said. “Obviously he’s been a huge part of our organization and coming up through the system, and playing so many years with him, and the type of player that he is on and off the field. He’s so good on the field, but he’s just even better off the field.

“I know we’re pretty much the same age, but I still feel like I’m his older brother by a little bit. He’s one of the best players in the game. It would be sad to see him leave. Hopefully they can find a way to work things out, but Mookie’s a grown man now, and he knows what decisions are in his best interests.”

After signing a team-friendly, six-year extension to remain with the Red Sox last year, Bogaerts can rest comfortably about his own future with the club and his continued rise as one of the best shortstops in the game. He was recognized as the top player at his position by being named to the first team of the All-MLB team, which surprised him. Oakland’s Marcus Semien, who finished ahead of him in American League MVP voting, was selected to the second team.

But there is no debating that Bogaerts is a cornerstone of the franchise going into 2020, no matter what happens this offseason. And whether or not some of his current teammates remain, he remains confident that the Red Sox will be contenders.

“I think we have a lot of pieces obviously to keep contending for a while, but it’s just a matter of which way the organization feels is better,” Bogaerts said. “Keeping certain guys, trading certain guys, but we have a lot of guys that are capable of doing that and a lot of young guys who have some good years last year, so you just have to hope that continues and they continue to get better.”

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