Because Xander Bogaerts received a rare day off on Wednesday, the thought couldn’t be ignored: how many games does he have left?

If the organization doesn’t do something about it, this could soon be the end of one of the greatest careers in franchise history.

For the last 10 years, expecting to go to Fenway Park and see No. 2 at the shortstop position was akin to smelling hot dogs and beer.

Bogaerts is Boston baseball.

Wednesday was a sad glimpse of what life could be like without him.

Back spasms kept Bogaerts on the bench, so it was Kiké Hernandez playing shortstop in the Red Sox’s series finale against the Rays. It was just the 10th time all year Bogaerts wasn’t in the starting lineup.


Find another big league shortstop who keeps himself in the lineup this often.

You can’t. Not since the days of Jimmy Rollins, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez was there an everyday shortstop who has produced as consistently as Bogaerts has.

Since he began his career as the Red Sox shortstop in 2014 (he played mostly third base during his late-season call-up in 2013), Bogaerts leads all MLB shortstops in games played and it’s not even close.

His 1,226 games topple most of those behind him. Only five others are within 200 games: Brandon Crawford, Elvis Andrus, Marcus Semien, Jean Segura and Francisco Lindor.

He’s played 1,244 games with the Red Sox. In the organization’s 121-year history, only 14 players have appeared in more games.

It’s one of Bogaerts’ most underrated attributes. And it’s why on this day, with so few of them left to remember just how valuable this guy has been to an organization that hasn’t shown its appreciation with dollar signs, it’s worth taking a moment to remember.


What we’re seeing out of Bogaerts this year is quite remarkable.

He hasn’t appeared totally healthy at all points this year, but has played through nonetheless. His power hasn’t been there, but he’s still collected a dozen home runs to go with 37 doubles — only Jose Ramirez has more. And while he feels like this season has been a grind for him at the plate, Bogaerts entered Wednesday leading the league with a .317 average.

Oh, and he’s having one of the best defensive seasons of his career, ranking fourth in ultimate zone rating at shortstop on his way to being worth a remarkable 5.7 wins above replacement overall, putting him behind only Aaron Judge (8.9 WAR) and Shohei Ohtani (7.8 WAR), according to FanGraphs.

And don’t for a second think it’s any coincidence that Judge and Bogaerts, a pair of franchise players who are betting on themselves ahead of free agency, are out there proving just how valuable they are.

The only difference is that Judge was offered an eight-year, $230 million extension, according to General Manager Brian Cashman, and Bogaerts was, according to reports, offered an extra year and $30 million tacked onto his team-friendly deal, one he’s going to opt out of at the end of the year.

The team has been mostly sheepish about the whole thing. Team president Sam Kennedy and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom continue to project confidence that they’ll be able to re-sign him, but the fact they couldn’t come close to doing that before the season, especially considering Bogaerts’ clear desire to stay in Boston, means that a return to Boston next year is far from a sure thing.


“I do believe Chaim has been very honest about the whole situation,” Manager Alex Cora told WEEI on Wednesday afternoon. “We love (Bogaerts and Rafael Devers) and would love them to be here for a long, long time.”

Cora has been particularly vocal about Bogaerts, who is having a sneaky-good season.

Bogaerts is less than four weeks from turning 30 and continues to be one of the most durable and productive players in baseball.

“We’ve been joking around because he’s been ‘grinding,’ but he’s hitting .317, his OBP is way up there,” Cora told WEEI. “In an era where we talk so much about power numbers, homers, extra-base hits, strikeouts – there’s value in putting the ball in play. He’s the perfect example.

“I don’t know how many infield hits he has (27), but with two strikes he makes contact and good things happen. He’s still a good runner, he’s becoming a better defender. There are a lot of things he does when he gets on base. He scores from first, scores from second with a base hit. It’s a solid year. If you ask Xander he’ll say it’s OK. But overall, if you put up all the numbers, it’s been a great one.”

And if the organization doesn’t soon pay him like it, there won’t be much time left for baseball fans in Boston to appreciate him.

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