Padres move Xander Bogaerts to second base

Padres move Xander Bogaerts to second base

Padres manager Mike Shildt told members of the media today Xander Bogaerts will move from shortstop to second base, with Dennis Lin of The Athletic among those who pass on the news. Ha Seong Kim will cross the pocket the other way to take the shortstop position.

It was just over a year ago that the Padres signed Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million contract. At the time it was a bit of a mystery as to the club's squad. Fernando Tatis Jr. was once supposed to be the franchise's shortstop. In February 2021, he and the Friars agreed to a historic 14-year, $340 million extension to keep him at the club for the majority of his career. He ended up missing the 2022 season due to injuries and a PED suspension, but was expected back in early 2023. During his absence, Kim did an excellent job at the position.

There was some uncertainty at the start of 2023. Tatis was coming off a completely missed season and the club was considering moving him to the outfield. But even if that scenario happened, they still had to cover for Kim. They weren't really expected to start the offseason looking for a mega-deal, but they secured Bogaerts anyway.

Bogaerts' first year in San Diego featured a fairly typical offensive performance for him. He hit 19 home runs and hit .285/.350/.440 for a wRC+ of 120. Defensively, Outs Above Average gave him a positive grade of +3, but Defensive Runs Saved put him at -4. He's long been considered a candidate to move on from shortstop, including a potential candidate, and it appears the time is now. For his career, his short records are -31 OAA and -54 DRS.

In the short term, the move is probably the best one for the 2024 version of the Padres because of Kim's excellent ability with the glove. He has pitched a total of 1,505 1/3 innings in the majors, just over a full season. During this time he has achieved 22 DRS and 7 OAA. Having him at shortstop and Bogaerts at second should give the club a great centerfield, as even mediocre shortstops often provide solid defense on the other side of the bag.

But when you look at the bigger picture, the Padres' decision-making becomes questionable. They've already donated around $300 million to a shortstop twice in recent years in a deal that lasted more than a decade, and now neither will go short. Tatis, now moved to right field, is under contract through 2034 and Bogaerts through 2033. Kim is scheduled to become a free agent after 2024 because his contract includes a mutual option for 2025 and these provisions are almost never triggered by both parties.

Assuming Kim reaches free agency in a year, the club will look for a short-term solution for 2025 and beyond. They could always move Bogaerts again, but he'll be 32 by then and his ability at the position will only decline with age. One of the club's top candidates, Jackson Merrill, is a shortstop who reached Double-A last year. He might be a solution down the road at this point, but he's reportedly coming into camp as an outfielder and the club is trying to get creative to fill the spots vacated by the trade Juan Soto And Trent Grisham. He could move back to the short position in 2025, but that could be a little difficult if he spends this year in the big league club's outfield instead of getting reps in Triple-A.

The Soto/Grisham deal was necessary as the club cuts spending this winter. That's partly because their TV deal with Diamond Sports Group fell through, but it's also tied to their extreme aggressiveness in recent years, which includes giving a massive one to a shortstop they didn't really need made a deal.