Xander Bogaerts Making the Red Sox Look Foolish For Letting Him Go
Xander Bogaerts shocked Major League Baseball when he signed with the San Diego Padres this offseason. The All-Star shortstop had spent his entire career with the Boston Red Sox, but the only franchise he'd ever known badly botched contract negotiations with him, so he moved on. The way Bogaerts has opened this season has to have Red Sox fans even more enraged. He looks as good as ever.
Bogaerts has hit safely in each of his first six games in a Padres uniform. He has nine hits in 22 at-bats, with two walks. Among those nine knocks are three home runs and three doubles. He's slashing .409/.440/.955 for an OPS of 1.395. Yes, it's early, but he has shown no issues in moving to a new city and a new team. He looks like the rock-solid cornerstone the Padres projected he'd be when they forked over a massive contract this offseason.
The Padres did pay a high price to bring on the 30-year-old shortstop. They signed him to an 11-year, $280 million deal -- a $5 million signing bonus, then $25 million per year. That's a lot for a guy who will be 41 when the contract ends. But San Diego is convinced Bogaerts' bat will age well, and there's no reason to think it won't. Besides, by the time 2030 rolls around $25 million a year might not seem like as much as it does now.
Bogaerts entered free agency following one of the best seasons of his career. In 2022 he slashed .307/.377/.456 with 15 home runs, 73 RBIs and a career-best 6.1 fWAR. He's also a four-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger and two-time World Series champ. And somehow the Red Sox let him walk. In place of Bogaerts at shortstop, Boston has (...checks notes...) Kike Hernandez.
So far in 2023, Hernandez is slashing .167/.286/.500 for an OPS of .786. He has three hits in six games, although two are home runs.
Now an argument could be made that the Red Sox signed Trevor Story to a a more affordable six-year, $140 million deal last offseason in anticipation of Bogaerts departing. So, how's that going? Well, Story had the worst season of his career in 2022, notching career-lows in batting average (.238), on-base percentage (.303), slugging (.434) and OPS (.737). Now he's opened 2023 on the IL with an elbow injury. So, it's going just great.
Boston's top prospect is a shortstop and he's a good one. Marcelo Mayer was the fourth overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft -- interestingly out of San Diego. He's 20 years old and is projected to hit the big leagues in 2024. But there's absolutely no reason the franchise couldn't have planned to have he and Bogaerts play together. One could have played second base, and along with Rafael Devers at third and Triston Casas at first, the Red Sox could have had a dynamic infield. Instead Chaim Bloom threw up the white flag and let a long-time All-Star walk away.
Bogaerts is poised to make Boston regret that decision for years.