Xander Bogaerts is one of the most popular free agents this offseason for good reason and plenty of teams are interested in him. Some think that the Boston Red Sox will make things work to keep him in Fenway. David Ortiz said:
"I expect them to come through and get this done. We don’t want another situation like Mookie. A guy like that, such a good player who goes about everything like a professional in a place like Boston, he’s a keeper."
However, negotiations have taken a while and Red Sox fans aren’t feeling so optimistic anymore. According to sources, Bogaerts has not received a competitive offer from the Sox and he has been meeting with other teams in person. I am not suggesting that the Seattle Mariners are one of these teams, but I am going to say that he’s still a viable option even after acquiring Kolten Wong.
How could the Seattle Mariners squeeze Xander Bogaerts into the lineup?
The infield is arguably set with the addition of Kolten Wong filling the hole at second base; you have Eugenio Suarez at third, J.P. Crawford at short, and Ty France at first base.
So, you’re thinking where would Xander Bogaerts go? I am going to go out on a limb and suggest we open things up at third base. With Jesse Winker being traded to Milwaukee, there is an opening for DH and I suggest making use of that flexibility.
Let’s lock in Eugenio Suarez as the everyday designated hitter
There is no doubt that Geno was an impact bat for the Mariners last season but his defensive metrics weren’t the greatest. He posted -2 defensive runs saved with -1 outs above average.
For comparison, Ke’Bryan Hayes posted 24 defensive runs saved, while Nolan Arenado posted 19 defensive runs saved. Among the third basemen that played at least 500 innings, Suarez was ranked 17th right ahead of Manny Machado who posted -3 defensive runs saved.
Suarez isn’t a bad infielder but he isn’t great by any means so why not give that position a defensive upgrade?
We could put Xander Bogaerts at third base
Based on last year, it seems unlikely that Xander Bogaerts is willing to move from shortstop. BoSox Injection said:
"If Bogaerts wasn’t willing to cede shortstop for Trevor Story last spring, it’s hard to see him abandoning the position for a new team, especially since he’s coming off the best defensive season of his career. He took immense pride in improving his defense and earning a Gold Glove nomination. Transitioning into a 1B or even designated hitter role might appeal to him in a few years, but not when he’s riding high from his hard-earned success."
However, you never know! Xander also has a history of playing third base with the Boston Red Sox so there is a higher likelihood of him moving over one spot to his right.
In 2013, he played 57.1 innings at third, while playing 385.1 innings in 2014. In those short times, he posted -1 defensive runs saved and -5 defensive runs saved respectively.
Those numbers aren’t great when considering what Eugenio Suarez did last year. Like BoSox Injection said, Xander worked on his defense and it showed as he posted 4 defensive runs saved and 5 outs above average.
So all things considered, maybe Xander Bogaerts isn’t really an upgrade for us when we have J.P. man shortstop. The Mariners might be better off putting Bogaerts at third base if we somehow managed to bring him to the Pacific Northwest.
Alternatively, we put J.P. Crawford at third base
Given how much range and athleticism J.P. Crawford has, it’d feel like a waste to put him at third base on a daily basis. But I think that’s a reasonable alternative if Xander was adamant about playing shortstop for his next team.
The hot corner isn’t untouched territory for Crawford since he’s logged 174.2 major league innings with the Phillies early in his career. He also played 78 innings in the Phillies farm system.
It is a pretty small sample size for J.P. who has played shortstop for most of his career. Putting him at third is not my favorite option, to be honest. I analyzed whether J.P. would be better off moving to second base to make room for a free agent and that seemed like a better fit based on his metrics.
Putting him further from first base might make it tougher for Crawford as his arm strength isn’t great among other players. But if Xander Bogaerts is only signing with a team that would make him the everyday shortstop, this isn’t a bad option.
Again, there are no rumors of the Seattle Mariners being in on Xander Bogaerts, right now, but I think he’s not completely out of the question. Trading away Kyle Lewis, Jesse Winker, and Abraham Toro has changed things up and it might give Justin Hollander some more options in terms of upgrading the team.
Maybe, just maybe, the Seattle Mariners are a wild card to bring Xander to the west coast.