By now the narrative is well established. The San Diego Padres, and more specifically new general manager A.J. Preller, blew up the team’s farm system, trading away future talent for the possibility of some present success.
As we all know, that strategy did not work out the way the Padres had planned, and Preller is left to pick up the pieces of a confused big league roster with a thin minor league system. So far this offseason, a new strategy has paid off. Preller has traded away some of the team’s most valuable trade chips, and gotten back quite a few good prospects in return.
With the trades of Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit specifically, the Padres have been able to replenish their farm system with a good amount of impact talent. Obviously the Padres farm system still doesn’t have the depth it had in years past, but this is a good move in the right direction.
At to those trades the Padres strong 2015 draft, and six top 100 picks in the 2016 draft, and the Padres farm system is headed in a much better direction than it was just six months ago. The Padres are headed in the right direction as a franchise, and things should only get better with the quickly arriving draft.
Perhaps even more important than the 2016 draft, is the 2016-2017 international signing class. If reports are to be believed, the Padres should be rather big players in that market when the new signing period starts on July 2nd.
Padres, Nationals and Braves are going to drop a bundle of cash on international prospects this year: https://t.co/bkaQ9Ta7ba
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 26, 2016
In an article for BaseballAmerica.com posted on Tuesday morning, BA’s Ben Badler discussed the three teams that look to be the biggest potential spenders in next year’s international free agent signing period. Given the fact that ten teams, including the usual big spenders such as the Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, and Red Sox, are unable to spend over $300,000 on any player during next year’s signing period because they exceeded their pools in previous years, the Padres are poised to be involved in a year with little competition. With several teams likely to not be involved, nearly half of the entire league is eliminated from the international market in one way or another.
This leaves the Padres in prime position to acquire quite a bit of impact talent. According to Badler, all three of the Padres, Braves and Nationals have made their intentions clear about exceeding their spending limits for this next class of free agents. And with the level of talent available, this makes complete sense for all three teams, and the Padres specifically.
If previous actions are any indication, the Texas Rangers exceeded their spendings limits in 2013-2014 when Preller was still with the organization, the Padres should do the same in 2016-2017. Preller is known for being very involved in the foreign free agent market, and is looking to make his first string of moves in that market with the Padres.
As discussed by Badler, the Padres are very involved in Venezuela, Cuba, and several other countries. In terms of Venezuelan players, the Padres are considered the favorites to sign shortstops Gabriel Arias, Justin Lopez and Livan Soto, all for bonuses of at least $1 million, with catcher Alison Quintero also potentially coming close to that mark.
Beyond that, according to Badler, the Padres are even attempting to convince some Cuban players to wait until the start of the next signing period to sign with them. Cuba has quite a bit of talent for this period, including Jorge Ona, Norge Ruiz, Randy Arozarena, Vladimir Gutierrez, Adrian Morejon, Lazaro Armenteros, Ronald Bolanos, Cionel Perez and Jonatan Machado. If things go as expected, the Padres should come away with multiple players from the Cuban group.
The Padres farm system may lack the depth it had in previous years, but after this year the Padres farm should look a lot deeper with a lot more impact talent. The Padres should do good in next year’s Amateur draft, with six top 100 picks. Beyond that, the team is also expected to be big spenders on the international free agent market. If things go as A.J. Preller has planned, the Padres could have a top ten minor league system going into the 2017 season.