Padres-Xander Bogaerts contract feels like Manny Machado desperation

Thomas Carannante
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 5: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on October 5, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 5: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on October 5, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /
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Third time was a charm for the San Diego Padres at the Winter Meetings. As Los Angeles Dodgers fans laughed when they were rejected by Trea Turner and Aaron Judge after offering them $342 million and $400 million (per reports), AJ Preller swooped in at the 25th hour on Wednesday night.

News broke that the Pads struck a deal with former Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts on an insane 11-year, $280 million pact. That’ll pay Bogaerts an AAV of $25.45 million through his age-40 season. The opt-out clause he exercised might’ve ended up being the most valuable of all time.

But the Padres’ aggression, while somewhat admirable, doesn’t seem like it’s all about building a juggernaut for 2023. In the end, Dodgers fans don’t have any room to criticize. The Padres are spending, the Dodgers are not. The Padres landed a top free agent, the Dodgers have not. The Padres kicked the Dodgers out of the postseason and began LA’s partial roster teardown.

When you look at this wild deal for Bogaerts, though, it really feels like the Padres are bracing for Manny Machado to exercise his opt-out clause following the 2023 season, should he put forth another MVP-caliber campaign.

Machado will be entering his age-31 season when 2024 rolls around. Aaron Judge, who’s entering his age-31 season in 2023, just got a nine-year, $360 million contract from the Yankees after his historic offensive performance. Bogaerts will supplement the Padres greatly in 2023, but it’s obvious the Padres wanted to get their hands on another star infielder (or generational player) to prep for Machado’s potential departure.

Dodgers don’t have to be too worried about the Padres-Xander Bogaerts contract

If Machado leaves, this is an entirely different team. He’s been the unquestioned leader and driving force despite there being initial belief Fernando Tatis Jr. could handle such responsibilities after receiving a $340 million contract.

Since Machado is making $300 million on his current deal, it’s possible San Diego knew he’d get more than that on his next go around and figured they wouldn’t be able to compete in the bidding or with other more desirable destinations.

It’s obvious how the Bogaerts deal could aid the Padres in absorbing such a loss, too. Bogaerts could maybe shift over to third base in 2024, with Tatis Jr. returning to shortstop. Maybe Bogaerts remains at short and Tatis stays in left field, with Ha-seong Kim shifting to third (from second), Jake Cronenworth going back to second (from first), and the Pads adding a first baseman. There’s a lot that could come out of this.

The Padres could’ve afforded to make such a drastic move with Bogaerts since all of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Drew Pomeranz and Luis Garcia will be coming off the books after 2023. Add in Machado, and that’s a grand total of $80 million.

Maybe they’ll spend more next offseason, but fans can objectively say at the moment that the Padres will be a far, far worse team without Machado in the picture, regardless of who they add this offseason.

They better hope 2023 is a banger, because they might have to address Machado’s void as well as get into various bidding wars for a promising starting pitching free agent class next year.

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