xander-bogaerts.jpg

The Padres finally got their man. Or their third choice, anyway, after missing out on Trea Turner and Aaron Judge.

That they gave Bogaerts a contract that would rival those two is ... interesting. They'll be paying the former Red Sox shortstop $280 million over the next 11 years, and the ripple effect is worth examining.

Before we get there, though, let's talk about what it means for Bogaerts himself. Long story short, it's not the greatest move for his Fantasy value. His swing was well suited for Fenway Park, delivering middling exit velocities but with a high enough pull rate to take advantage of the Green Monster. Ten of his 15 home runs last year came there. Over his career, he has an .872 OPS there compared to .758 everywhere else. Fenway rated as the third-best park for right-handed hitters last year. Petco Park ranked 27th.

SD San Diego • #2 • Age: 30
2022 Stats
AVG
.307
HR
15
RBI
73
R
84
SB
8
OPS
.833

My fear is that this move locks Bogaerts into being the 15-homer guy we saw last year as opposed to the 25-homer guy we've seen in years past. There was already some danger of that with the new ball (again, middling exit velocities), but this move makes it all the more likely.

It doesn't mean his days as a Fantasy standout are over. His 15 homers last year still made him the ninth-best shortstop in 5x5 leagues and the eighth-best in points, and I rank him similarly for 2023. He'll still bat in the heart of a star-studded lineup, reliably hitting .300. But his upside will be limited in a way certain others' at the shortstop position won't be.

That's the first thing to know about this signing. Now, for the aforementioned ripple effect:

  • So apparently, Fernando Tatis isn't a shortstop anymore. He'll enter 2023 with eligibility there, but possibly for the last time if he returns from his PED suspension in May as a full-time outfielder. There was already talk of him doing so to preserve his health (he's working his way back from wrist and shoulder surgeries), but now it seems locked in.
  • Then again, third baseman Manny Machado has an opt-out after the 2023 season, and the way the market is currently shaping up, it seems like he might actually pass up the five years and $160 million he'll be owed. Perhaps the long-term plan, then, is for Bogaerts to shift over to third base, allowing Tatis to reclaim the shortstop role. One thing's for sure: Bogaerts isn't sticking at shortstop through age 41.
  • In fact, even though he'll be the one playing shortstop in 2023, Bogaerts is probably the fourth-best shortstop in the Padres lineup as things currently stand. I'm referring to Tatis and Machado, but also Ha-Seong Kim, whose value is primarily on the defensive side. Shifting him to second base seems like a waste and may ultimately make him less than a full-time player. He had 11 homers and 12 steals in 2022 but also a .251 batting average and .708 OPS.
  • Shifting Kim to second base also means shifting Jake Cronenworth to first base, which also seems like a waste since he's a perfectly capable second baseman. It's still possible the Padres bring in a cheap thumper to man first, reducing Kim to more of a utility role. Stay tuned.
  • As was long expected, last year's big free agent signing for the Red Sox, Trevor Story, will inherit the shortstop job vacated by Bogaerts, so you can anticipate him regaining eligibility there in short order. Having him at second base is ultimately more valuable, though.
  • The Red Sox will now have a vacancy at second base and some interesting candidates to fill it. Chief among them is Enmanuel Valdez, who they acquired from the Astros in the Christian Vazquez deal. He's a defensive liability but has surprising pop for a 5-foot-9 guy, having hit .296 with 28 homers and a .918 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A last year. It's a long shot but bears watching.