Xander Bogaerts, first baseman?
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Padres have inquired with agent Scott Boras to ask if Bogaerts would consider other infield positions. San Diego has become a player for major free agents in recent years, and GM A.J. Preller isn't afraid to be bold, which is why the Padres came in second on our list of potential Bogaerts landing spots.
It's unclear where the Padres might want Bogaerts to move. San Diego's current starter at short, Ha-Seong Kim, is considered an excellent defender and roughly average hitter who could shift to a utility role. There's also the matter of All-Star Fernando Tatis Jr., who missed the entire season after breaking his wrist and then being suspended 80 games for performance-enhancing drugs. Persistent shoulder woes could move Tatis to the outfield.
Tomase: If the Red Sox don't want to ante up this winter, they'll be left out
If either of them stays at short, the most obvious infield hole is at first, where Eric Hosmer played regularly before being traded to the Red Sox in August. Second baseman Jake Cronenworth and third baseman Manny Machado were both All-Stars each of the last two years, so there would be less incentive to move one of them, though Cronenworth has experience at first base.
What's unclear is how willing Bogaerts would be to change positions, especially given the pride he takes in playing shortstop. He bristled at suggestions last spring that he might vacate the position to make room for free agent Trevor Story. The Red Sox instead moved Story to second, where he hit for power and played outstanding defense, albeit in only 94 games, thanks to injuries.
Bogaerts, meanwhile, turned in another excellent offensive season while delivering some of the best defensive numbers of his career en route to being named both Silver Slugger winner and Gold Glove finalist.
If the Padres convince him to move, it will require a change of attitude on the part of the four-time All-Star, who wears No. 2 in honor of childhood hero Derek Jeter, a lifelong shortstop.
"Bro. I'm a shortstop, man," Bogaerts said in spring training. "That's where I've played my whole career. Obviously it's a position I take a lot of pride in. If you look at my numbers, they've been pretty good for these years. I like being there. That's it."
As for changing positions, Bogaerts shot that down in Fort Myers.
"I haven't thought of that," he said. "Why would I think of playing second or third if I'm playing short? I don't see any sense in that. Just going out there, playing shortstop and trying to get better, especially on the defensive side."
There will be a shortstop job for Bogaerts somewhere this winter, and maybe even Boston. But the Padres have demonstrated a recent willingness to beat the market, so maybe Bogaerts gets the proverbial offer he can't refuse to join a lineup that also features superstar Juan Soto.
Just consider it another layer to a saga that's only just beginning.