Bogaerts moving to second; Kim named Padres' shortstop

February 16th, 2024

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres, with their roster full of shortstops, will have a new shortstop in 2024.

will move to second base this season, manager Mike Shildt said Friday, with , the reigning utility Gold Glove Award winner, flipping from second base back to short.

Bogaerts, who signed an 11-year contract with the Padres last offseason, had spent the first 11 seasons of his career playing shortstop almost exclusively in Boston and San Diego. He was solid defensively in 2023, but the Padres made the move looking to get the most value out of Kim, one of the best defenders in the sport.

"I don't want to misrepresent: Xander Bogaerts played a really good shortstop for the San Diego Padres last year and was a positive part of us," Shildt said. "But he recognizes Kimmy's value at shortstop and is a good teammate for that."

Bogaerts and the Padres discussed his eventual move off shortstop during contract negotiations. It was going to happen at some point during his 11-year deal. So when Shildt broached the subject in December while visiting Bogaerts in his native Aruba, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

Still, Bogaerts noted, “We got to today fast.” It was only Friday morning -- shortly after Bogaerts’ arrival and just ahead of the first full-squad workout -- that the plan was finalized. Bogaerts said it took him “15 seconds” to accept it.

“The only reason I came here was to win a World Series,” Bogaerts said. “So if this is the way that we’re going to get one, so be it. I want to win.”

Kim is slated to become a free agent after the season, raising questions about San Diego's future at short. But in the short term, there's little doubt that Kim's value is highest as a shortstop, where he spent the 2022 season before Bogaerts' arrival.

Shildt left open a slim possibility that he'd flip the two back to their previous positions before the season. But for now, the plan is for Bogaerts to play second base all spring and build up there. Bogaerts has never played a Major League inning at second base.

“I’m looking at the positive,” Bogaerts said. “If we were going to have this conversation in like two years -- ‘Hey, let’s move you from the position’ -- let’s just get it out of the way now. This is a really good time for it, and our team is going to be much better this way.”

Shildt was effusive in his praise of Bogaerts for being so receptive to the idea.

"His immediate default was: 'OK, what does this look like for our team?'" Shildt said. "Clearly, rightfully, he's going to want to know what's best for him and feel comfortable about the situation. But he was very open-minded. … I've just got a lot of respect for him."

When the Padres signed Bogaerts, they assured him that he'd be their shortstop for the 2023 season. Beyond that, they left it open-ended. In the first year of that contract, Bogaerts was worth a respectable three outs above average.

Then again, Kim was worth eight outs above average as the team's primary shortstop in 2022, and he was worth nine as a utility player in '23. Kim finished as a Gold Glove finalist at short in '22 before winning the award this offseason.

“I signed here as a shortstop,” Bogaerts said. “But to me, I just live and die baseball. … I respect Kim, especially defensively. I actually admire him a lot. I’m just doing it in the best interests of the team, and in the end, I feel like I’m at peace with moving off.”

"The good news,” Shildt added, “is you want as many shortstops as you can have on a baseball field in as many positions as you can have them."

The Padres have lived that mantra. The rest of their infield is comprised of one-time shortstops, including Jake Cronenworth at first base and Manny Machado at third. Fernando Tatis Jr., their shortstop in 2021, just won the Platinum Glove Award as a right fielder.

Cronenworth's most valuable defensive position is second base, which led to questions about whether Bogaerts might move to first base or an outfield corner. Shildt downplayed that idea, noting Cronenworth's solid glove at first and the fact that the Padres didn't want to move Bogaerts away from the middle of the infield, where they feel he serves as a captain of their defense.

"He's still a guy that's going to run point guard from the second-base position," Shildt said.

Bogaerts noted the transition won’t be an easy one, citing double-play pivots as his biggest challenge. He’ll also need to adjust to reading the ball off the bat from the right side. Bogaerts has spent his entire career on the left side of the infield, including his breakthrough as a third baseman with the 2013 Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series.

“I won one [World Series] at third base,” Bogaerts said. “I won one at shortstop.

“It would be very nice to win one at second.”