1. Xander Bogaerts
Last offseason, beloved shortstop Xander Bogaerts departed Boston for the West Coast and a 11-year, $280 million contract with the San Diego Padres. Bogaerts failed to live up to the hype in the first year of his deal, recording his lowest batting average since 2017 and also driving in the fewest runs since 2014 (omitting the COVID-shortened 2020 season). Prior to joining the Padres, Bogaerts had secured MVP votes in the previous five seasons. Nothing about his 2023 campaign said "MVP candidate".
Bogaerts spent ten seasons with the Red Sox, joining the big league club late in 2013 as a 20-year-old on Boston's way to a World Series title. He had a decorated career in a Sox uniform, earning four All-Star nods, five Silver Sluggers, and two World Series.
After shelling out some massive contracts similar to Bogaerts', San Diego has run into financial trouble (the real kind, not John Henry's penny pinching) and Bogaerts' albatross of a contract came to front of mind. A return to the Red Sox was even floated as a possible trade scenario but since that report the Padres have offloaded Juan Soto and are assuredly letting reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell walk in free agency. If your name is being included in trade rumors one season into an 11-year deal, things aren't going well.
The Aruba native's inaugural season in San Diego went so poorly that his contract has been ranked among MLB's worst. Now on the wrong side of 30 (Bogaerts turned 31 in October), it seems like last season could be an indication of an inevitable downward trajectory, rather than an aberration campaign in the midst of a standout career.
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