Xander Bogaerts might not be the missing piece of the San Diego Padres’ offseason puzzle after all.
Last week, reports emerged that the Padres were willing to move Fernando Tatis Jr. to the outfield in order to make room for Bogaerts at short. Hypothetically, that setup would work quite well for the Padres.
But now, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that the Padres have asked Scott Boras if his client would be open to playing another infield position, instead.
Padres asked Scott Boras if Xander Bogaerts would switch defensive positions
Let’s break down how complicated and unlikely this is for the Padres.
Shortstop in San Diego is currently shared by Tatis and Ha-Seong Kim, but Tatis missed the entire 2022 season with a wrist fracture and PED suspension; Kim did an excellent job subbing in. The Padres allegedly considered moving Tatis to the outfield for Bogaerts and transitioning Kim into a super-utility role, but it seems Tatis may not be so eager to switch positions. He doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on at the moment, though; the Padres didn’t hide their disappointment with the decisions he made in 2022. He also still has 30-something games of his 80-game suspension left, which will take up about a month of the 2023 regular season.
Since the Padres have Manny Machado at third, that leaves first and second open for Bogaerts.
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.
The Padres, with several enormous long-term financial commitments, also wouldn’t pay Bogaerts shortstop money to play another position, especially if they’re planning on trying to extend Juan Soto and Yu Darvish and keep Machado from opting out next winter. Soto recently said that he’d like to have Bogaerts with him in San Diego, so signing the Boston star could potentially help the Padres keep Soto, as well. But it would be an expensive way to incentivize Soto, though; Bogaerts’ Red Sox contract had a $20M AAV, and he’s projected to command $25-28M AAV on the open market. Continuously depleting the farm system while making contractual commitments will make them the same kind of mess the Sox was in a few years ago. Speaking of the Sox, the Padres are still paying Eric Hosmer, and his salary adds $12.28M to their luxury tax payroll each year until 2026.
There’s also a penalty for signing Bogaerts because the Sox extended a Qualifying Offer to him. For the Padres, who exceeded the luxury tax threshold this year, the penalties are steeper: losing $1M from their international signing bonus pool and second- and fifth-round draft picks. They currently have a little over $151M in luxury tax commitments for 2023, so they have room to sign Bogaerts, but losing more draft picks and international signing money would hurt a franchise that just traded away a bundle of their best prospects to get Soto and Josh Bell.
Meanwhile, Story has said he’s very happy to keep playing second base for the Sox and he’s been very outspoken about his affinity for Bogaerts. If the Sox can just break their lowballing habit, they can bring Bogaerts home.