Xander Bogaerts says Padres roster 'stacked, top to bottom'

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Saturday, December 10, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- It didn't take long for Xander Bogaerts to be asked whether he expected to be theSan Diego Padres' full-time shortstop even though the team already has two stalwarts at the position.

"I play infield. I play shortstop," a smiling Bogaerts said after pulling on a No. 2 home white pinstripe jersey and brown cap during a news conference Friday at Petco Park.

Bogaerts and the Padres finalized a $280 million, 11-year contract 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 to spend big in an attempt to win an elusive World Series title.

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

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

"The roster is so stacked, top to bottom, it's unbelievable," said Bogaerts, a native of Aruba 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 here, seeing how amped up the fans were during the playoffs, it was fun to watch on TV."

The Padres eliminated the 101-win New York Mets in the wild-card round before beating the 111-win National League West rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series. They lost the NL Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.

With Bogaert's arrival, it's expected that Tatis will move to the outfield when he returns, with Kim taking over at second base. All-Star second baseman Jake Cronenworth likely will shift to first. Tatis was on the cusp of returning from a broken left wrist when he was suspended by MLB on Aug. 12. He then had surgery on his troublesome left shoulder as well as a follow-up surgery on his wrist.

General manager A.J. Preller said that when he spoke with Machado about bringing in Bogaerts as another shortstop/infielder, the All-Star's response was: "The more the merrier."

After last season, Bogaerts opted to terminate his $120 million, six-year contract with Boston, forfeiting salaries of $20 million for each of the next three years after hitting .307 with 15 homers and 73 RBI in 150 games.

"We were looking for that right fit, that right piece that will help us get over the top," Preller said. "When we met early this week, he told me that he's 'baseball-struck.' He's a 24/7 guy about 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, batting .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 $300 million, 10-year contract as a free agent in 2019 and signed Tatis to a $340 million, 14-year deal in 2021.

"This is a city that's headed for its first world championship ever," Seidler said. "Hopefully, one day soon, the baseball gods will smile on our city."

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

Earlier this week, the Padres came up short in efforts to sign free agents Trea Turnerand Aaron Judge,despite what was reported to be more lucrative offers.

They're pretty happy with the star they did sign.

"Having a guy like Xander, it's not just the numbers he puts up, it's also his character," Padres manager Bob Melvin said. "He makes us better, so we'll see where this goes."

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