Xander Bogaerts, right, has taken Rafael Devers under his wing since Devers joined the Red Sox in 2017. Boston would be wise to work out a deal with Bogaerts, not just because of his skills on the field, but also because of his leadership. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Thanksgiving is here. Boston sports fans have plenty to be thankful for, with the Bruins and Celtics in first place and the Patriots buzzing after an improbable walk-off win over the Jets on Sunday in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

With a sports cornucopia overflowing with success, it’s easy for this city to forget about the Red Sox. The embers of the hot-stove season remain ice cold, and fans have essentially one question each day:

Have they signed Xander Bogaerts yet?

The answer, as of this moment, is no. Bogaerts is a free agent. And while there are reports that Boston has been engaged with agent Scott Boras to get a deal done there have also been stories linking numerous other teams – including, gasp, the Yankees – to Bogaerts.

It’s easy to understand why. Bogaerts finished ninth in last week’s American League MVP voting, the second time he’s finished in that award’s Top 10. He won the Silver Slugger Award as the best-hitting shortstop in the league, winning it for the third time in four years. He’s coming off the best defensive season of his career.

His addition could mean everything to a team looking to add a boost to its roster heading into next season. Yet his return means much more to the Red Sox.


Last week I caught up with former Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy at Fenway Park. Peavy was the midseason acquisition that helped the Sox win the World Series in 2013. Bogaerts was the young call-up who put them over the top come the postseason.

Peavy shared a story from that season, telling me how Dustin Pedroia took the young shortstop under his wing in Bogaerts’ early days with the club. The lessons Bogaerts learned from the maniacally competitive Pedroia stay with him 10 years later.

In Peavy’s eyes, the primary reason Bogaerts is worth even more than his numbers might indicate is because of his ability to relay those lessons to other young players. He’s been passing them on to Rafael Devers since the young third baseman entered the league in 2017.

Those lessons represent the continuation of a legacy that was forged in the curse-busting season of 2004. Then, David Ortiz embodied the spirit that led the Red Sox past the Yankees and to their first championship in 86 years. Ortiz passed those lessons on to Pedroia. Pedroia then handed the torch to Bogaerts. The transferral of that legacy to Devers is underway.

Mookie Betts could’ve been part of that legacy. Should have been. Yet he was traded away in the spring of 2020 when the Red Sox became worried that he would walk away via free agency.

Now, Bogaerts is poised to follow Betts out the door. The biggest mistake made by Boston in each case was allowing the player to get so close to the end of their deals. They needed to lock up Betts in 2017 or 2018 and didn’t. They should’ve restructured Bogaerts’ team-friendly deal a year ago. Or more.

They didn’t. And now they are scrambling to sign the player they have called the team’s biggest offseason priority.

Getting a deal done would put the Red Sox back in the sports discussion at Thanksgiving tables around New England. The same thing will happen if he signs elsewhere, but those conversations will be much less flattering.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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