Why paying Judge, Turner and Bogaerts in their 30s could be a risky move

AP Photo/Abbie Parr

At the news conference officially welcoming Xander Bogaerts to the San Diego Padres, he tried on a pin-striped Padres jersey emblazoned with "2" on the back as A.J. Preller, the team's president of baseball operations and general manager, looked on with a smile as big as the USS Midway docked in San Diego Harbor.

And why not? Bogaerts' path to the Padres certainly seemed unlikely at the outset of the offseason, but after the Padres first aggressively pursued and failed to sign either Aaron Judge or Trea Turner, Preller turned his focus to Bogaerts and landed the four-time All-Star shortstop with an 11-year, $280 million contract. Bogaerts joins a star-studded Padres lineup that already features Manny Machado and Juan Soto, with Fernando Tatis Jr. returning after he missed all of 2022 due to injury and a PED suspension.

It was a stunning signing for a player who had been predicted to receive a contract more in the range of $160 million to $190 million.

"It's crazy how the world works," Bogaerts said.

That's one way to explain what has happened so far this offseason. Until this month, nine players in major league history had signed contracts with a total dollar amount of more than $275 million -- and all nine of those players started the first year of those contracts while still in their 20s.