With the 2023 season a complete failure and plenty of unanswered questions- Did the Padres make a mistake in signing Xander Bogaerts?
The San Diego Padres made a huge splash in the free agent pool this past winter as they signed Xander Bogaerts away from the Red Sox.
The shortstop was lured away from the only franchise he knew with an 11-year/$280 million deal from A.J. Preller. The money was too good to pass up, as the Padres paid top dollar and gave the right-handed hitter a decade-plus of security. Bogaerts will be paid $25.45 million per season until 2033, when he is 40 years old.
The dollar amount will be watered down in time, but the commitment is massive for the Padres.
Xander Bogaerts is a special player, but did the Padres pay too much for him?
In the winter, the Padres were linked to Aaron Judge and Trea Turner before each player ultimately turned down the Padres and signed elsewhere. Did A.J. Preller become disheartened losing out on those two players and make Bogaerts his focus out of pure frustration? Perhaps a deal like that was too favorable to the player rather than the team. Maybe the Padres would have been better served to spend that money in other ways to improve the roster.
Only time will answer the question of whether the Padres made a mistake.
Let’s explore the issue and ask ourselves if the signing was an error in judgment or a proper investment.
Yes. It was a mistake
Xander Bogaerts is a very good player. But is he worth close to $300 million? The answer is simply no. When you factor in that he signed the deal going into his 30th year on this planet, it just doesn’t make much sense for the Padres. Bogaerts should still have something left in the tank, but how can you be sure he will age gracefully? You can’t.
There is a high likelihood that this deal will get painful for the Padres in time. As the native of Aruba ages, a move from the shortstop position is likely. The right-handed hitting Bogaerts could play other positions, but the Padres are committed long-term to Manny Machado at third base, and Jake Cronenworth was issued a seven-year deal this past winter, keeping him in San Diego until 2030 when Cronenworth is 36 years old.
Where does that leave Bogaerts in five or six years? Can his bat produce enough to be an adequate first baseman or a DH? The Padres possess multiple players at the beginning of long-term deals. Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Jake Cronenworth are all secured, and one would think the Padres want to bring Ha-Seong Kim and Juan Soto back after next season when they hit free agency.
At this point, ten more years of Xander Bogaerts only complicates the Padres’ situation, as Jackson Merrill is flying up the prospect ranks and could be ready next season for major league service time. Nothing is set in stone, but the Padres will need way more production from Xander Bogaerts to justify this deal, and they will need him to produce well into his 30s.
This is not quite an Eric Hosmer situation, but it could get that bad. Xander Bogaerts comes with a higher pedigree than Hosmer and is more well-rounded as a ball player. The team can only hope that he ages well and has no significant issues. The wrist is a concern as that seems to be a chronic injury for Bogaerts. The Padres still own Xander Bogaerts $254.5 million, which is a scary thought for the future.
No, the Padres will be fine
The numbers are down for Bogaerts, but you need to factor the injury to his wrist. That clearly bothered him all season. Bogaerts is a gamer and never once used the issue as an excuse for his lack of production thus far in 2023. The shortstop has taken multiple cortisone shots on his wrist but missed only eight games this season. You have to respect that.
Xander Bogaerts is a professional. The kind of player you build around who knows what it takes to win a World Championship. Bogaerts speaks multiple languages and is undoubtedly a leader in the clubhouse. His first season with the Padres may have been difficult, but you’ve heard no excuses from this veteran in terms of his production. In fact, Bogaerts stated publically that the team should be doing better and put the blame on himself.
In time, he will probably move to another position. That is okay, as Bogaerts has shown a quality eye at the plate and the propensity to hit for a high average since he first started playing professional baseball at the age of 17. The Padres can be sure that Xander Bogaerts will stay in top physical health, and there is no reason to believe he will not produce for the Padres well into his late 30’s.
The contract will be watered down in time, and $25 million will be palatable in the future when his production starts to decline slightly. Bogaerts is an all-star player, and they do not come cheap. The Padres are easily affording the deal, so there is not much to complain about other than his numbers, which were off in his first season in the National League. Expect Bogaerts to hit near .300 next year as his comfort level increases. All this talk will be for nothing when he is producing like he is capable. And more importantly- the team is winning.
This may take time to fully get an idea if the signing was bad or not. At this point, it does not look favorable for the Padres. Bogaerts is at the end of his worst major league career in terms of OPS (.721) since his rookie year (.660) in 2014. His average OPS is at .806 for his 11-year career, so this tail-off in production is concerning. The shortstop has played very well on defense, and that is not an issue. It comes down to his production with the bat. He must be better.
Bogaerts should still be productive on the baseball diamond for the next several seasons, but after that, your guess is as good as mine. A move away from shortstop seems inevitable despite his positive season in 2023. That will diminish his value a little, but hopefully, the move from the strenuous position will increase his abilities with the bat. The Padres can only hope that is the case if he is in the lineup at DH or first base.
A.J. Preller went out and spent money this past winter. As a lifelong Padres fan, that was a great thing to experience. However, chemistry and other factors are huge variables when constructing a roster. The team failed horribly in 2023, but the nucleus is in place for a sustainable run. Xander Bogaerts is committed to the Padres for the next ten years. There are no opt-outs in his contract. He should be a Padre for a long time.
This deal looks terrible, and fans are angry with the production in 2023. A lot of their anger is directed at A.J. Preller and the signing of Xander Bogaerts. Perhaps that is justified. The Padres were supposed to be a World Series contender, not a below .500 team. The most concerning thing is how they are losing this season. In close games, they crumble, and they do not have it in them to come back from any kind of deficit. Xander Bogaerts is taking the brunt of the criticism for the team’s production in 2023. He has plenty of time to get back into the fans’ good graces, but that will start with his production in the batter’s box. He needs to be better, or this deal will be horrific in the future for the Padres.
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.