Big Padres development suggests Red Sox dodged bullet with Xander Bogaerts contract

2024 San Diego Padres Spring Training
2024 San Diego Padres Spring Training / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

Xander Bogaerts, a 10-year member of the Red Sox, took off for San Diego last offseason after failed contract extension talks in Boston.

At the time, fans were frustrated and many still are. But a recent development from the Padres may have softened the blow for some of Red Sox Nation a full season later.

Bogaerts will be shifting to second base this season after being Boston's everyday shortstop for 10 years and San Diego's for one. He's made some appearances at third base for the Sox and as the designated hitter for both clubs, but those were few and far between.

Last season, San Diego signed Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million contract, and now they're already having to make defensive accommodations for him.

Bogaerts will be switching places with Ha-Seong Kim, the Padres' former second baseman, because the club has more confidence in Kim's defensive abilities at short.

Padres moving Xander Bogaerts to second base makes Red Sox look better for not extending him

In his final year with the Red Sox in 2022, Bogaerts logged 5 outs above average and ranked in the 89th percentile in that statistic, according to Baseball Savant. In his first season with the Padres, Bogaerts' defensive production decreased slightly to 3 OAA.

Kim is an exceptional defender, and at second base he registered 9 OAA to rank in the 96th percentile and recorded above-average arm strength, which Bogaerts lacks.

Bogaerts is still a great defender, Kim is just better. And maybe now the Padres are having second thoughts about the contract they gave Bogaerts. If his defense continues to stall or even get worse, the Red Sox will be happy they missed out on such a contract for themselves.

In fairness, the Red Sox could've begun contract extension talks with Bogaerts far earlier than they did. It's possible they could've signed him earlier and for much less money than San Diego signed him for — Boston made an embarrassing offer and he went where the money was. Nobody can ever blame him for that, especially if he felt disrespected after doing so much for the Sox.

If the Red Sox paid the Padres' price for Bogaerts, they'd be disappointed by his slowing defense. Had they extended him sooner and kept him at shortstop for all the games Trevor Story missed, the team would be in a better place than it is now.

Regardless of what Boston did or didn't do, it seems strange to offer a player who's only ever played one position with consistency an 11-year contract just to move him in year two of the deal. Kim's defense is a step up at shortstop, but if Bogaerts doesn't thrive at second, the Padres may have made a grave mistake.

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