SAN DIEGO — Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and the San Diego Padres agreed on an 11-year, $280 million contract late Wednesday, sources confirmed to ESPN, a monumental move that brings the longtime Boston Red Sox luminary to a team already laden with star-level talent.
The stunning deal, consummated as an especially active winter meetings came to a close, added Bogaerts to a Padres team that already includes Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. Boston, meanwhile, was left lamenting the loss of a homegrown talent who made his major league debut at 20 years old and leaves at 30 after opting out of the final three years of his contract.
Bogaerts won a pair of World Series and made four All-Star teams, including in 2022, when he hit .307/.377/.456 with 15 home runs and 73 RBIs in 150 games. The expectation is he’ll remain at shortstop, with Ha-Seong Kim — who took over at the position in 2022 when Tatis was injured and suspended for a positive performance-enhancing-drug test — moving to second base, incumbent second baseman Jake Cronenworth sliding over to first, Tatis shifting to right field and Soto going to left field.
The deal, which runs through Bogaerts’ age-40 season, capped a winter meetings during which teams signed 18 players for nearly $1.6 billion, including the New York Yankees locking up outfielder Aaron Judge for $360 million, the Philadelphia Phillies signing shortstop Trea Turner for $300 million and the Red Sox spending more than $105 million to add outfielder Masataka Yoshida, between his salary and the posting fee to his former team in Japan.
Bogaerts entered the winter as one of the prizes of a strong free agent class. After making runs at both Turner and Judge, the Padres pivoted to Bogaerts, spooked neither by the cost to sign him nor the domino effect his arrival might cause. With the deal, the Padres’ payroll spikes to more than $250 million, a staggering number for a team with the 27th-ranked media market in the country.
Boston, typically a team among the largest payrolls in the game, declined to play anywhere near the financial realm to which the Padres were willing to go. On a day in which the Red Sox agreed to a deal with Yoshida as well as a two-year, $32 million pact with closer Kenley Jansen, they found themselves without another high-profile, popular player two years after trading outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The signs that Bogaerts could leave Boston had percolated after he rejected a contract extension presented earlier this year. The opt-out in Bogaerts’ six-year, $120 million contract extension hung over the Red Sox like the Sword of Damocles, threatening to take away another core member of the team that won the World Series in 2018 and made the American League Championship Series in 2021 before falling to last place in the AL East this year.
As Boston faltered, the Padres ascended with a series of moves bolder than the last. First, they signed Machado to a 10-year, $300 million free agent contract before the 2019 season. Two years later, they gave Tatis a 14-year, $340 million extension. And at the trade deadline this year, they dealt five prospects for Soto, who turned down a $440 million contract extension offer from his previous team, the Washington Nationals, and can reach free agency following the 2024 season.
Without Tatis, the Padres won 89 games and secured a wild-card berth, finishing 22 games back of the first-place Dodgers in the National League West. San Diego beat the 101-win New York Mets in the wild-card series, ousted the Dodgers in the division series and dropped the NL Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies, who lost the World Series to the Houston Astros.
The Padres last made the World Series in 1998, getting swept by the Yankees, and have yet to win a championship since their inception in 1969. Now the only major men’s professional sports team in San Diego, the Padres have entranced the city, capping season-ticket sales and regularly filling Petco Park as they fell just shy of 3 million attendees, the fifth-highest number in baseball behind the Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Yankees and Atlanta Braves.
The amount the Padres were willing to spend on signing Bogaerts nevertheless stunned the baseball industry. While Machado can opt out of his contract following the 2023 season and the Padres are slated to shed nearly $60 million in payroll beyond him with the impending free agencies of pitchers Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Josh Hader and Drew Pomeranz, the financial three-card monte in which they’re engaging left rival executives questioning their long-term plan.
The Padres pay no mind to outside opinions. Moving Kim and his elite glovework at shortstop to second for Bogaerts, whom scouts and defensive metrics agree is inferior defensively? No problem. Depleting their elite farm system in a deal for the final 2½ years of Soto’s club control? The price of building a championship-caliber team.
Bogaerts knows what World Series rings look like, nabbing a pair in his 10-year career, during which he has hit .292/.356/.458 with 156 home runs and 683 RBIs while playing at least 136 games in each of his eight full seasons. The ability to stay healthy proved a hallmark for Bogaerts, who signed with the Red Sox out of Aruba as a 16-year-old, rocketed to the major leagues and became a fixture in the lineup with a sweet right-handed swing oriented for contact and damage.
Now he’ll join an offense that despite the star power ranked 13th in the major leagues with 705 runs. The addition of Bogaerts and return of Tatis should supercharge it. Boston, on the other hand, faces serious questions about its present and future.
The Red Sox could potentially move second baseman Trevor Story to his natural position at shortstop, though the velocity on his throws, according to scouts, could hinder his effectiveness there a year after he signed a six-year, $140 million free agent deal. Boston also needs to figure out the future of star third baseman Rafael Devers, a 26-year-old who can hit free agency after the 2023 season and is expected to command $300-plus million. The Red Sox and Devers remain far apart on extension talks, according to sources.
MLB Network first reported the agreement between Bogaerts and the Padres.