The San Diego Padres were dangerously close to striking out in free agency. As it turns out, though, the third time was the charm for AJ Preller, as he signed coveted shortstop Xander Bogarts to an 11-year, $280 million contract after he had enormous offers for Trea Turner and Aaron Judge turned down.
The move sent shockwaves around baseball, as it was widely reported following the Judge bombshell that momentum was building towards Bogaerts returning to Boston. When the dust settled, though, Preller made Bogaerts an offer he couldn’t refuse; one that didn’t even compare to the Red Sox’ final offer.
You can argue all day about how this deal will age seven years down the road, but Bogaerts represents everything San Diego sought this offseason; a big bat (and reliable glove) Bob Melvin can pencil in the middle of his lineup.
That begs a pertinent question.
With so many stars capable of hitting near the top of the order, what might the Padres’ opening day lineup look like in 2023?
Projecting the Padres’ 2023 lineup after Xander Bogaerts signing
Bogaerts arrival means San Diego is headed for a defensive realignment. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, though. It’s long been reported that the Padres were keen on moving Fernando Tatis Jr. to the outfield.
Assuming Bogaerts plays shortstop, Ha-Seong Kim and Jake Cronenworth could shift to second and first base, respectively, with Tatis patrolling left field, and Trent Grisham and Juan Soto filling out the outfield in center and right.
Tatis is suspended for the first 20 games of next season, so Melvin will have to get creative for the first month of action. The Padres have plenty of firepower beyond Tatis, but lets project the lineup with the 23-year-old in the fold.
- Fernando Tatis Jr., LF
- Juan Soto, RF
- Xander Bogaerts, SS
- Manny Machado, 3B
- Jake Cronenworth, 1B
- Austin Nola, C
- Trent Grisham, CF
- David Dahl, DH
- Ha-Seong Kim, 2B
That top four is the best in baseball bar none.
Fans might cringe at Nola hitting sixth, but that’s subject to change assuming San Diego upgrades at catcher and, or designated hitter/first base. The Padres quietly signed Dahl to a minor-league contract at the Winter Meetings, and he’s the current favorite to open the season at DH, but we’d be shocked if that came to fruition.
The top five feel set in stone, however. Could Bogaerts and Machado swap hitting third and cleanup? Sure. Bogaerts has historically hit for better average relative to Machado, but the third baseman is fresh off hitting .298 this past season, and his .280 average in four seasons with the Pads is nothing to sneeze at.
Moral of the story? Slam Diego now has the most vaunted lineup in baseball, and it could add more talent in the coming days and weeks.