By Mike Axisa & R.J. Anderson
The San Diego Padres have reached an agreement with shortstop Xander Bogaerts, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Bogaerts, who opted out of the final three years and $60 million remaining on his Red Sox contract after the season, will ink an 11-year pact worth $280 million. The exact structure of the deal has yet to be revealed, but MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the deal does not contain any opt-outs. It does, regardless, feature no-trade protection.
Bogaerts turned 30 in October and was the oldest of this offseason’s big-name free agent shortstops (also Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson, and Trea Turner, who earlier this week signed with the Philadelphia Phillies). He slashed .307/.377/.456 in 2022, though he slipped to 15 home runs after averaging 29.7 homers per 162 games from 2018-21. The dip in power was mitigated by improved defense. Bogaerts rated very well in the field in 2022.
Our R.J. Anderson ranked Bogaerts the fifth best free agent available this offseason and the third-best available shortstop behind Correa and Turner. Here’s his write-up:
“Bogaerts is the Max Martin of shortstops, a consistent hitmaker with a sparkling trophy case. In each of the last five seasons, he’s appeared in at least 84 percent of his team’s games and has produced an OPS+ north of 125. He can hit for average, he can walk, and he’s mostly hit for power. This season proved to be an exception on that last note, though a late May collision with Alex Verdugo that resulted in wrist and shoulder discomfort might be to blame. Defensively, Bogaerts has been a few years away from moving off shortstop for, oh, a decade now. Statcast data confirms that he still doesn’t have top-end speed or arm strength relative to his peers. It’s not easy to convince a big-league team you’re playable at the six for this long unless you’re doing something right. Even if Bogaerts is asked by his next employer to shift elsewhere, you have to give him credit for the hard work he put into improving his defense. Do note that Bogaerts opted out of his contract with three years and $60 million remaining, suggesting he’s looking to improve on an AAV of $20 million. He should, easily.”
Bogaerts has benefited from Fenway Park’s nooks and crannies over the years, hitting .312/.375/.497 at home and .271/.338/.420 on the road in his career. Also, he posted a .424 batting average on balls in play on the ground in 2022, well above his career average (.333) and the league average (.302). Some regression there is likely, making it important Bogaerts rediscovers his power.
Bogaerts will presumably play an infield position for the Padres, though where precisely is to be determined. San Diego has a number of talented infielders as it is, including Fernando Tatis Jr. (likely to shift to the outfield after missing the entire 2022 campaign due to a combination of injury and suspension), Manny Machado (locked in at third), Ha-Seong Kim (a good shortstop), and Jake Cronenworth (previously cemented at second base). In theory, Bogaerts’ addition could allow the Padres to trade one of those players for rotation help or to slide one to first base (Wil Myers, Josh Bell, and Brandon Drury are all either free agents or already signed with another team). Still, again, things are and will likely remain in flux for the Padres until the arrival of spring training. At a minimum, they have options.
The Padres had previously made runs at Trea Turner and Aaron Judge, falling short on both. General manager A.J. Preller is never one to fear away from making a splash, however. So Bogaerts becomes the latest in his collection of star additions, joining Machado, Juan Soto, Josh Hader, Yu Darvish, and others. Our own Matt Snyder recently detailed how the Padres were in position to make such excessive offers to the top free agents, writing the following:
“The Padres right now look to have $184.2 million on the books for 2023 after figuring in arbitration and pre-arbitration salaries, according to baseball-reference.com estimation. It seems like rotation depth is more important than adding another superstar, but it’s possible they can make do with Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, Nick Martinez, Adrian Morejon, Julio Teheran and more (Ryan Weathers bounce back?).”It should be noted that the Padres’ signing of Bogaerts means the Boston Red Sox, his previous team, are now certain to be on the hunt for a new shortstop of their own. That could make the Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson sweepstakes all the more interesting to watch unfold.