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Xander Bogaerts offers perfect explanation for why he left the Red Sox to join the Padres


It didn’t take long for Xander Bogaerts to make the people in San Diego laugh.

As he slipped on his San Diego Padres cap and a jersey that was lined with navy and gold lettering, he realized the tinted highlights in his hair matched the gold on the uniform.

“I didn’t do this on purpose,” he told reporters at his introductory press conference with the Padres, who officially signed him to an 11-year, $280 million deal on Friday afternoon.

The room erupted with laughter, then Bogaerts went on to explain how happy he was to be joining an organization that was committed to winning.

If it wasn’t a direct shot at the Red Sox, it did a great job masquerading as one.

The Red Sox, who let Jon Lester, Mookie Betts and now Bogaerts slip away rather than pay them what they were worth, are no longer that team.

“I feel great,” Bogaerts told reporters at the press conference, which was broadcasted live on MLB Network. “Sometimes it’s hard to turn the page, but it’s something I have to do. I was very thankful and appreciative for my time with the other team, the Red Sox, and I met a lot of people who helped me out and helped me be the player I am today.”

“The other team” is a heck of a way to describe the franchise that signed him as a teenager, developed him into a prospect who won a World Series as a 20-year-old, and paid him about $85 million over parts of 10 big league seasons.

But “the other team” has also clearly changed directions.

Dave Dombrowski, who signed Bogaerts, Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and Christian Vazquez to long-term contract extensions while in charge of the Red Sox front office before he was fired in 2019, has been replaced by Chaim Bloom, who traded Betts to the Dodgers and let Bogaerts walk in free agency.

Bloom will get the blame, but he’s a man who takes orders from John Henry and the Red Sox ownership group, one that fired Dombrowski for a difference in opinion over the future direction of the franchise.

Dombrowski wanted to keep his foot on the gas and keep the Red Sox in a competitive window. Henry and Co. wanted to cut costs, rebuild the farm system and focus on the future.

Here we are, four years later, and the Sox now have an identity crisis.

Who are they?

As Bogaerts smiled in his new uniform, he was asked how difficult it was to leave Boston. He thanked his former teammates, coaches and front office members for helping him develop into the player he is today.

“It was a great run,” he said. “But this is a different challenge, one I’m looking forward to. This team wants to win … you could see the fans in the postseason, how electric it was, and something we obviously didn’t have (in Boston) this year.”

The Red Sox finished in last place and Bogaerts said goodbye to his original team in a half-empty ballpark on a rainy day in October.

“My priority was going to a team that was very competitive, a team that wanted to win,” Bogaerts said. “The (Padres) owner doesn’t like windows, but this isn’t a window, it’s something that’s built for the long run, with the guys on this roster and the commitment to the guys on this roster for the long run. I’m looking forward to bringing a banner here and being part of that.”

He didn’t seem particularly beat up about moving on from an organization that reportedly offered him just $30 million on top of his contract to stay in Boston for four more years.

The total value of the deal would’ve been $90 million over four years. The Padres gave him more than triple that.

In the beginning of the offseason, if someone told Bogaerts he would get an 11-year contract, what would he have done?

“I would’ve kissed (my agent, Scott Boras),” Bogaerts said. “I haven’t yet, but I might do it after.”

Padres general manager A.J. Preller is known as being one of the more aggressive GMs in the game, but his pursuit of Bogaerts took Boras by surprise. Boras said he didn’t expect the Padres to want a guy of Bogaerts’ makeup — he doesn’t hit a ton of home runs and is more of a contact hitter than a power guy.

But Preller said he targeted Bogaerts for more than that. Former teammates of Bogaerts, Allen Craig and Ian Kinsler, are assistants in the Padres front office and told Preller he couldn’t do better than Bogaerts, from a makeup perspective.

“The makeup component we focused on, knowing our players and the group we have in the clubhouse, and how that fit with Xander and his experiences,” Preller said.

The Padres are loaded with talent. Fernando Tatis Jr. is expected to move to right field to make room for Bogaerts at shortstop. Tatis and others on the Padres roster told Preller they were OK with it because they wanted to win.

Bogaerts’ two World Series rings will carry weight in the clubhouse.

“This team reminds me of the team we had that won in ‘18, a team that was superior to the rest, roster-wise,” Bogaerts said.

There’s little doubt that the Red Sox no longer operate in that category. They’re on the bottom, and by losing Bogaerts, they aren’t making it easy on themselves to work their way back up.

“It’s crazy how the world works,” Bogaerts said. “Everything happens for a reason. I’m excited to be here.”


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