Xander Bogaerts
#DirtyWater Keeping Xander Bogaerts in a Red Sox uniform was important but it will also have a ripple effect on the upcoming free agent class. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Who knew that March was the month the MLB Hot Stove really started to heat up. Chris Sale, Aaron Hicks Nolan Arenado, Justin Verlander, Paul Goldschmidt, Miles Mikolas, Ryan Pressly and now Xander Bogaerts all signed extensions with their current team. That removes 8 players from the free agent market next year. 8 really good ones but let’s focus on Bogaerts for a second.

Bogaerts was the interesting one in this free agent class because he’s just 26. He would have hit free agency at the same age that Bryce Harper and Manny Machado did. Bogaerts isn’t thought of in that same class but he probably should be. Since the start of the 2014 season, Bogaerts leads all shortstops in extra-base hits (263) and RBI’s (382). Bogaerts was going to get paid like the superstar that he is. It just so happened that Dave Dombrowski once again dropped his nuts on the table and wasn’t letting Bogie leave. The 6-year, $120 million extension will make Bogaerts the highest paid shortstop in the sport. Well deserved too. The thing that makes this deal so crazy is Bogaerts could have haggled over more money and tested the market but he didn’t. Xander took a slight discount and his decision has a big impact on the upcoming free agent class.

Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole are the big fish that will hit the market next year. Both are represented by Scott Boras (So was Bogaerts) so don’t even try guessing what will happen. The highest bidder 95 percent of the time lands the Boras client. That’s what makes this Bogaerts’ deal so unique. Rendon and Cole will get their money so Bogaerts won’t affect them. However, he does have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the class.

This puts pressure on the Yankees with Didi Gregorius. The Yankees shortstop is hurt, 3 years, older, but still a dangerous player. Since joining New York in 2015, Didi is a .274 hitter and has mashed at least 20 homers the past 3 years. His market may come down how he performs once he returns from Tommy John in the second half of the season. With Bogaerts off the board, Didi becomes the top shortstop in free agency. That means he’s getting more money than maybe he would have if Bogaerts was also on the board. Gregorius is also literally the only one available too. Freddy Galvis would be next and even the Blue Jays hold a club option they could extend.

Nicholas Castellanos, Yasiel Puig, Khris Davis, Marcell Ozuna, Madison Bumgarner, Rick Porcello, Dellin Betances, and Zack Wheeler are the headliners next year. That’s not a group that jumps out in any way. It’s not to say that those guys are bad players but it’s a far cry from what could have been. As far as the Red Sox are concerned, I’m guessing Porcello will not be retained and a young arm like Darwinzon Hernandez will take a rotation spot. Boston will now be in save for Betts mode.