The San Diego Padres' decision to sign Xander Bogaerts as a free agent opens up the question about Fernando Tatis Jr.'s long-term outlook with the organization.
Per ESPN's Alden Gonzalez, Tatis has " always been adamant" about playing shortstop.
Bogaerts made it clear during his introductory press conference on Dec. 9 he is still planning to play shortstop.
"I play infield. I play shortstop," he told reporters.
The Padres don't actually have to worry about appeasing Tatis' apparent desire to play shortstop right at the start of the 2023 season. He isn't eligible to play until April 20 as he finishes out the rest of his 80-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance.
Tatis missed the entire 2022 season recovering from offseason wrist surgery and the suspension. The 23-year-old has experience playing a different position. He was used in the outfield two years ago to ease the physical burden on him due to a shoulder injury.
When it looked like he was going to be a contributor last season, Tatis told reporters he would be open to playing a position other than shortstop.
"Wherever they need me," he said. "We're going to talk. But I've been [rehabbing] mostly at shortstop so far. I've been moving around everywhere, but it's been mostly shortstop so far."
Gonzalez did note Tatis "seemed so lethargic" playing the outfield in 2021 and there is "eroding trust" from the Padres in the All-Star talent.
Some of the trust issues may stem from Tatis' durability. He missed 78 games as a rookie in 2019 and 32 games in 2021. But there are also potential issues off the field. His wrist injury last year was the result of a motorcycle crash.
Tatis seemed to indicate when asked about the crash during spring training that it's happened more than once.
Padres manager Bob Melvin made it clear Tatis won't be riding motorcycles anymore.
Even though the Padres currently have a logjam on the left side of their infield, there are reasons to think that signing Bogaerts to an 11-year contract doesn't necessarily mean they will be trying to move on from Tatis.
Bogaerts has generally been a below-average defensive player throughout his career. It seems unlikely he will get better as a shortstop now that he is 30 years old.
There's also the possibility 2023 will be Manny Machado's final season with the Padres. The six-time All-Star has an opt-out in his contract. Given how much money teams have been spending this offseason, there's no reason he can't cash in with one more big contract while he's in his prime.
San Diego also has to think about trying to re-sign Juan Soto, who can become a free agent after the 2024 season.
For all of Tatis' flaws, he is still an incredible offensive player. The two-time Silver Slugger winner has a .292/.369/.596 slash line in 273 career games.
San Diego's spending spree over the past three seasons makes it seem unlikely the team would try to move Tatis. He significantly increases the team's chances of making the World Series when he plays.
The Padres reached the National League Championship Series last season for the first time since 1998.