Did Padres blindside Xander Bogaerts with official position switch to second base?

Xander Bogaerts could've been given a bit more notice from his manager.
San Diego Padres second baseman Xander Bogaerts
San Diego Padres second baseman Xander Bogaerts / Masterpress/GettyImages

It was always likely to happen, but it's doubtful that anyone expected it so soon. San Diego Padres manager Mike Shildt made it official last week when he announced Xander Bogaerts would be moving from shortstop to second base.

The Padres' prized free agent signing from a year ago is no longer occupying shortstop. That job belongs to the slick-fielding Ha-Seong Kim. Bogaerts will now slide to his left and be manning the keystone in 2024.

But Shildt's decision didn't come without controversy. While even casual observers could see that Kim is the superior defender, perhaps Shildt could've given Bogaerts a heads up over the winter rather than just springing the position change on him once the preseason began.

Did Padres blindside Xander Bogaerts with official position switch to second base?

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Padres never informed Bogaerts of their plans for one reason -- they were trying to trade Kim and wanted to maintain as much leverage as possible in potential negotiations with other clubs.

Kim, who is in the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Padres, was the subject of much trade speculation this offseason. After dealing Juan Soto and Trent Grisham to the New York Yankees, other baseball executives assumed they could cash in on the opportunity to pry Kim away from San Diego before the Padres are set likely to lose him for nothing in free agency next winter.

But no trade ever materialized, and it appears as though Kim will be the Padres Opening Day shortstop while Bogaerts will move to his left and cover second base.

Bogaerts has always been seen as a bat-first shortstop. In fact, his advanced defensive metrics suggest that Bogaerts probably should've moved off shortstop years ago. Over his entire career, Bogaerts is worth -54 defensive runs saved (DRS), according to FanGraphs. After posting 5 DRS with the Boston Red Sox in 2022, Bogaerts was back to his old ways with -4 DRS in 2023.

While it may not have been the best way to inform Bogaerts of the impending position change, the infielder just signed a $280 million contract last offseason. There's little to complain about if you're Bogaerts.

The 31-year-old still has the entirety of spring training to get his timing down and improve his defense at second base. With shortstops shading toward second base for years when the defensive shift was employed, it's not as if he'll be in totally foreign territory when the 2024 season begins. Look for Bogaerts to make a relatively smooth transition to his new position, hopefully without any resentment.