FOX Sports MLB Analyst
SAN DIEGO — The Padres lost both Trea Turner and Aaron Judge this week despite outbidding both players’ picks. Late Wednesday, they ensured they wouldn’t fail a third time. Instead, they convinced longtime Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts to move to the country for an 11-year, $280 million contract that far exceeded previous projections.
Bogaerts, 30, isn’t a natural fit for San Diego’s roster of position players. The Padres already used one shortstop too many. They now have three, between Bogaerts, Ha-seong Kim and Fernando Tatís Jr. Of course, Tatís missed last season due to injury and a PED suspension. He should return at the end of April, but it is not entirely clear where he will play once he returns.
Manny Machado is anchored at third base. The last time Bogaerts played a position other than shortstop was July 30, 2014. Kim is an elite defender who isn’t as valuable when he’s not playing shortstop. And Tatis is a disgraced superstar who has pitched 90% of his career innings.
However, all this is apparently secondary. The Padres wanted another elite hitter, and with their farm system depleted after all their trades in 2022, they stopped at nothing to get one. Between Judge and Turner, San Diego reportedly outbid the teams that signed them by nearly a total of $100 million. And it looks like the Padres may have outbid Bogaerts’ previous employer by nearly $100 million alone.
Clearly, the Red Sox misjudged the Bogaerts market. He’s not exactly a superstar, but he’s proven over the years that he at least belongs in the second tier of stars in this sport. Over the past five seasons, he has averaged 149 games played and a steady .301 batting average.
That average ranks among the highest in that span, and only Freddie Freeman has been a more consistent power contact hitter during those years. Bogaerts’ OPS+ has rated between 128 and 139 in each of the last five seasons. In other words, he’s always been great, if just shy of outstanding.
Arguably, the Padres make perfect sense for that reason. Between the Tatís and the deadline acquisition Juan Soto, they already possess a lot of elite potential. What they lacked in recent seasons was consistency.
Bogaerts will provide that, at least for the foreseeable future, wherever he plays. It’s a mystery right now. Beyond their three shortstops, the Padres also employ Jake Kronenworth, a competent second baseman who won’t be as valuable if forced to become an everyday first baseman. If Tatis moves to center field, he will displace talented defensive outfielder Trent Grisham.
Maybe that will speed up a deal. Tatis has a full no-trade clause, but maybe he’d agree to start over. Kim has two years and $15 million left on his contract and would be attractive to teams missing Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson, the remaining free agents.
The Padres will probably figure something out. Boston has bigger concerns at this point. Bogaerts has been the cornerstone of the franchise since 2014, beloved outside and inside the organization. Last week, he teased manager Alex Cora with a text about the Netherlands-USA World Cup match. And after losing Mookie Betts and now Bogaerts, general manager Chaim Bloom will be criticized on sports radio stations around town for months, if not years.
Nine months ago, Bloom signed Trevor Storey to a six-year contract worth exactly half of Bogaerts’. Story didn’t impress much during his first season in New England, but it’s possible he could return to produce comparable value to Bogaerts in 2023. Over their careers, Story has actually been significantly more valuable on a percentage basis than Bogaerts.
But try telling that to a Red Sox fan right now. Bogaerts has long established himself as a pure hitter who exudes joy in his work. He is now a padre, along with Tatis, Machado and Soto.
The Padres have shelled out so much money over the last few years that no one knows how long they can keep it up. But on Wednesday night, only those outside the organization in San Diego were wondering about it. The Padres themselves were celebrating another success, after several notable failures. They couldn’t sign Judge or Turner, but they did get Bogaerts, and Bogaerts is pretty great.
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Pedro Moura is the national baseball writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the Dodgers for The Athletic, the Angels and Dodgers for the Orange County Register and LA Times and his alma mater, USC, for ESPN Los Angeles. He is the author of How to Beat a Broken Game. Follow him on Twitter at @pedromoura.
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