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Xander Bogaerts Is Better Suited for Second Base

The San Diego Padres announced another notable shuffle coming to their middle infield for the 2024 season as they are moving Xander Bogaerts across the bag to second base, swapping places with Ha-Seong Kim who will now be taking over the job at shortstop.

After signing an 11-year, $280 million before the 2023 season, Bogaerts turned in a decent campaign at the plate during his first year in a Padres uniform. In 155 games he slashed .285/.350/.440 with 19 home runs and 83 RBI while posting strong walk and strikeout rates that align with his career numbers. While his offensive numbers weren’t season-altering for the Friars, it was still valuable, unlike his defense which was fairly sub-par.

The move at the time was a questionable one, to begin with as the team already had Fernando Tatis Jr. established at the position, especially after signing a 14-year, $340 million contract in 2021. Unfortunately, Tatis later missed the entire 2022 season due to injuries and a PED suspension, leaving the Padres with a need to fill their lineup with a star while they waited for Tatis to return. While Kim easily filled in at short, the Padres decided to go out and sign a player like Bogaerts while Tatis to the outfield.

Bogaerts hasn’t exactly been the greatest defensive shortstop to ever play the game. During his career, he has registered -54 Defensive Runs Saved and -31 Outs Above Average. There is no doubt that he always had some decent standard of range and throwing ability, but it has never been the reason why he blossomed into one of the game’s top hitters. His 2023 season specifically wasn’t awful defensively, but it has likely left the Padres with a lot to desire from the position.

The move to second is likely better for Bogaerts in the long term as the rigors of everyday play are somewhat less demanding of a second baseman. His glove may become more valuable, compensating for the shorter throws to first base.

In the meantime, it makes their overall defense better with Kim taking over at short once again. He has played 1,505 1/3 innings at short in the majors and in that time, he’s tallied 22 DRS and 7 OAA. In 2023, Kim won his first career Gold Glove as a utility player and was fifth in DRS and fourth in OAA. His ability to seamlessly move around the diamond has made Kim a hot commodity for the Padres. While teams have inquired about his availability in a trade, the Padres appear to be hoping that Kim can build his value as the everyday starting shortstop, thus giving them maximum value on a trade possibility.

In the present, it simply makes the most sense to give the Padres their best defensive alignment. Manny Machado and Kim can handle the left side of the infield, while Bogaerts and Jake Cronenwroth handle the right side. There is the potential that the Padres will look to move Cronenworth as a way to get out from under his contract, but as it stands the infield appears set.

The Padres’ decisions these past few seasons have been questionable. In an effort to keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and try to win a championship, the moves haven’t exactly panned out for the Friars. The desire to cut payroll has been quite evident for the Padres this offseason and they will likely face another decision at short after the season. Kim has a mutual option for 2025, but those deals are hardly exercised by both parties, meaning the Padres will have to plug another hole depending on how 2024 turns out.

In the meantime, however, they are making the most of the predicament, and moving Bogaerts to second is the best-case scenario for both Bogaerts and the Padres.




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