Xander Bogaerts says Padres squad ‘stacked, top to bottom’

Xander Bogaerts says Padres squad ‘stacked, top to bottom’

  • Sports
  • December 10, 2022
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SAN DIEGO — It wasn’t long before Xander Bogaerts was asked if he expected to be the San Diego Padres’ full-time shortstop, even though the team already has two stalwarts in that position.

“I play infield. I’m playing shortstop,” said a smiling Bogaerts after donning a white pinstriped No. 2 home jersey and tan cap during a news conference at Petco Park on Friday.

Bogaerts and the Padres settled on an 11-year, $280 million deal after the four-time All-Star passed his physical.

The deal with the 30-year-old Bogaerts shows owner Peter Seidler’s willingness to continue spending big to win an elusive World Series title.

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The Padres already have two shortstops in the squad, including Fernando Tatis Jr., who can return on April 20 after an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The other is Ha-Seong Kim, who played well filling in for Tatis, a 2021 All-Star who missed all of last season.

Bogaerts joins an already strong lineup that includes third baseman Manny Machado and outfielder Juan Soto.

“The roster is so stacked, top to bottom, it’s incredible,” said Bogaerts, an Aruba native who signed with the Boston Red Sox at age 16 and helped them win the World Series in 2013 and 2018. “When they beat the Dodgers it was fun to see the excitement of the fans during the playoffs here on TV.”

The Padres eliminated the New York Mets with 101 wins in the wildcard round before beating National League West rivals Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series with 111 wins. They lost the NL Championship Series in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies.

With the arrival of Bogaert, Tatis is expected to move to outfield upon his return, with Kim taking over at second base. All-Star second baseman Jake Cronenworth will likely move to first place. Tatis was about to return from a broken left wrist when he was suspended from MLB on Aug. 12. He then underwent surgery on his problematic left shoulder and wrist.

General Manager AJ Preller said that when he spoke to Machado about adding Bogaerts as another shortstop/infielder, the All-Star’s response was, “The more the merrier.”

After last season, Bogaerts chose to resign from his $120 million six-year contract with Boston and lost $20 million in salaries over the next three years after hitting .307s in 150 games with 15 homers and 73 RBI.

“We were looking for the right fit, the right part that would help us get over the top,” Preller said. “When we met earlier this week, he told me he was ‘addicted to baseball.’ He’s a 24/7 guy on the game.”

Bogaerts is a .292 career hitter with 156 homers and 683 RBI in 10 big league seasons — all with Boston.

He had his best season in 2019, hitting .309 with a career-best 33 homers and 117 RBI. He had 23 homers and 103 RBI in 2018.

In 44 postseason games, Bogaerts is a .231 hitter with five homers and 16 RBI.

The Padres gave Machado a 10-year, $300 million contract as a free agent in 2019 and signed Tatis to a 14-year, $340 million deal in 2021.

“This is a city heading towards its first World Cup,” said Seidler. “Hopefully one day the baseball gods will smile at our town.”

San Diego made the World Series in 1984 and 1998 and was routed both times.

Earlier this week, the Padres failed in efforts to sign free agents Trea Turner and Aaron Judge, despite reportedly more lucrative offers.

They’re pretty happy with the star they signed.

“With a guy like Xander, it’s not just the numbers that he comes up with, it’s his character,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “He makes us better, so we’ll see where that goes.”

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