Xander Bogaerts proves Red Sox right for letting him walk 2 years later

It continues to look like the Boston Red Sox made the right decision by letting Xander Bogaerts leave in free agency.

Sep 30, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) throws to first
Sep 30, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) throws to first / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2022 offseason, the Boston Red Sox made the controversial decision to let their franchise player, Xander Bogaerts, sign with the San Diego Padres on an 11-year deal worth $280 million. Everyone knew that was an overpayment at the time, but Boston letting a player of Bogaerts' caliber walk sure seemed questionable for a team that, in theory, could pay anybody they wanted to.

Bogaerts set out to prove the Red Sox wrong for not matching the deal by getting off to an electric start, posting a .914 OPS in April, and helping to keep the Padres afloat. His offense teetered off as the season progressed, and the Padres wound up missing the playoffs.

While his offense was inconsistent, Bogaerts actually wound up playing better defense than advertised at shortstop, ranking in the 81st percentile in outs above average according to Baseball Savant.

Even with that, the Padres are making a surprising position switch, moving Bogaerts to the keystone and having Ha-Seong Kim start at shortstop. Bogaerts' rough offensive season paired with a position switch means it sure looks like the Red Sox were right to pass on topping San Diego's offer.

Xander Bogaerts position switch proves the Red Sox were right to let him walk

Bogaerts got the contract he received from the Padres because he was a shortstop. He made it abundantly clear that he saw himself as a shortstop and couldn't see himself playing anywhere else. Just one year into his contract, he's already changing positions.

The Red Sox haven't done much fans can be proud of in recent years, but letting their franchise player go rather than top the contract the Padres offered him seems to be a great thing. Bogaerts wasn't bad defensively in 2023, but clearly the Padres believe their infield defense will improve if he's playing second base. Some of that has to do with Ha-Seong Kim being an elite defender, but there's every reason to believe that Bogaerts will continue to trend in the wrong direction as he ages.

The Red Sox have questions of their own right now as to whether Trevor Story can make throws consistently from the shortstop position after recovering from elbow surgery. Adding in questions about Bogaerts' defense would make their situation worse than it already is.

The Red Sox have their own set of problems that mainly come from their refusal to spend. Paying Bogaerts would undoubtedly make them better, but would they have been able to extend Rafael Devers if that happened? Would they be willing to do anything else? It's seemed for a while that Boston was better off, and this position switch only solidifies that opinion.