Seidler, Padres playing long and short game with Bogaerts deal

Padres chairman Peter Seidler spoke with a childlike enthusiasm about his interactions with fans, especially children, during the postseason.

“Just being able to plant so many seeds, getting kids in the ballpark,” Seidler said a couple days after the Padres’ playoff run ended in late October. “These kids are crying after we lose. ‘There’s no crying in baseball,’ I told one of them the other day. They didn’t know what I was talking about. But we’re seeding great fans for life. From our standpoint, we’ve always had an obligation, and it’s at a higher level now.”

Seidler has declined public comment this week, but his latest attempt to maintain that obligation, prevent tears and end the Padres’ championship-less existence came in his direct involvement in securing an agreement with four-time All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts on Wednesday.

The 11-year, $280 million deal, which is expected to be officially announced Friday, was completed with more involvement from Seidler than most negotiations, two sources said. His added involvement was due to his wanting to make sure the Padres got one of their primary targets to improve their offense and because of his robust relationship with Bogaerts’ agent, Scott Boras.

The 30-year-old Bogaerts, who was part of two World Series championship teams with the Red Sox, joins the Padres having led all major league shortstops in on-base percentage (.373), OPS-plus (133) and WAR ( 23.4) over the past five seasons while ranking second in average (.300) and slugging percentage (.507) in that time.

The total value of Bogaerts’ contract is third highest on the Padres’ behind the 14-year, $340 million deal Fernando Tatis Jr. signed in 2021 and the 10-year, $300 million deal Manny Machado signed in 2019. And it gives the Padres three of the 12 largest contracts in MLB history.

And it does not seem the Padres are finished trying to make sure last year’s National League Championship Series appearance was a beginning rather than a burst.

Seidler has talked with disdainful disappointment about the Padres having made the postseason in consecutive years just once in their 53 seasons. In aiming to do so a second time, their intention is to add another veteran starting pitcher such as Japanese star Kodai Senga and a “bat” that could possibly mean an outfielder/designated hitter such as Joey Gallo.

Their payroll is projected to be around $235 million for next season, which currently ranks third in the major leagues. This will be their fourth consecutive season in the top 10 after ranking no higher than 17th in any season since 2000.

The record payout paying off is no certainty. For all the potential at the top of the batting order, the Padres still have holes in their everyday starting lineup. Their need for another veteran starter could be fairly characterized as desperate. Their offensive depth must be upgraded, a task that will be made more challenging by the top-heavy nature of the payroll.

As Padres President of Baseball Operations AJ Preller allowed Wednesday before the Bogaerts agreement, the attempt to add elite talent is also a hedge for the future. The Padres would be shocked if Machado does not exercise his ability to opt out after the ’23 season, and Juan Soto is under team control for two more seasons and will command a contract that dwarfs anything the Padres have ever handed out.

Bogaerts’ 11-year contract is the longest ever given to a player in his 30s, but the Padres’ thinking isn’t all that different than some other teams that have consummated lengthy pacts with players in their late 20s. The reality is that the team is hoping for the player to help them win a championship and bring people to the ballpark in the first five to six years of the deal, and the longer contract lowers the average annual value.

And the AAV (along with payments to players no longer on the 40-man roster and benefits) is what factors into the Competitive Balance Tax payroll figure. The Padres are currently projected to have a CBT payroll that is $1 million higher than the second CBT threshold of $253 million. Should they remain above that mark, they will pay a penalty of 50 percent for every dollar they spend above the first threshold of $233 million and 62 percent tax for every dollar above $253 million. (With a CBT payroll of $254 million, their penalty would be $10.62 million).

Seidler sees MLB heading in a positive direction in terms of increased revenue and has put his faith in fans that they will continue to show up at Petco Park. The Padres are also planning to develop more of the area around the ballpark.

But the money from Seidler and the team’s other owners is not endless.

Still, there is no question what the organization is doing.

The Padres’ brass does not like the term “all in” because they contend its connotation is “now or never.” And the moves they make, they believe, are about the current season and the many to come after that.

That said, there can be little doubt the Padres are all in for 2023.

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