The 2020 season did not end as most had hoped, but there is plenty of optimism for the San Diego Padres in regards to their future.
With a new manager at the helm, a certain amount of uncertainty comes.
The San Diego Padres did not pose a threat in 2020 — or at least that is what most experts of the sport prognosticated before the season finally started.
The exact opposite happened for the Padres, as A.J. Preller’s master recipe finally took hold on a baseball-starved city. It took time for it to all fall into place, but there is no doubt now that the San Diego Padres possess one of the brightest futures in the league. The team is the talk of Major League Baseball and should easily build on that momentum in 2021.
It is difficult to change gears and look into the next season. Especially after a difficult loss. But the Padres have a goal of bringing a championship to San Diego, and Preller is focused on that task. If not for some crippling injuries to the pitching staff, the team could have shocked the world in the 2020 playoffs.
Taking a look at the future for this franchise, let’s first focus on the players who are due for free agency.
The writing is on the wall for this veteran pitcher. The Padres, desperate for starting pitching, failed to consider using the right-hander in either crucial playoff series. He came out of the bullpen and did not pitch well as the career starting pitcher was clearly uncomfortable in the task. The Padres gambled on Richards two years ago, and he simply did not work out. You could argue the veteran leadership he brought to the team was key, but in the end, aspects like that have no tangible worth. He will not be back with the team in 2021.
After a slow start (3-for-24 producing a .125 average), Profar was arguably one of the more consistent run producers for the Padres down the stretch. The switch-hitter put up a .351/.380/.500 slash line in the last month of the season, showing that the former top prospect could be in store for a decent payday. Profar is an intriguing option for the Padres in 2021. The team would probably love to retain the versatile player, but he will likely get better financial offers elsewhere. The Padres will explore bringing back Profar, but this is not a certainty.
There is no doubt that the right-handed closer fell in love with the city of San Diego. It is safe to say he enjoyed his time with the Padres. The veteran pitcher throws gas and is the perfect fit for a Padres’ team that may need a reliever or two for the 2021 season. In the past winter, Rosenthal signed a one-year deal with the Royals for $ 1 million. There are going to be plenty of suitors for Rosenthal this winter. The Padres may have a leg up on the competition, but they will need to pay at or near fair market value for the 30-year-old pitcher. This should be a top priority for the Padres.
The right-hander is very important to the team. His cardboard cutout made the trip to Texas during the playoff season and was even seen in the game’s bullpen area. The pitchers on the staff look up to the veteran, but will the Padres retain his services? An arm injury is a serious thing, but Yates could be brought back in the right circumstances. The right-hander missed out on a huge payday, so he could sign a one-year deal with the hopes of building his value. This will be an interesting subject as the winter season arrives and the Padres start to build their squad.
There will be no reason to bring back the veteran catcher as the Padres have Austin Nola, Luis Campusano, and Francisco Mejia all on the major league roster. The left-handed-hitting Castro should have no issues finding a job with a team for the coming season. The Padres will likely explore a veteran catcher for the Triple-A level, but Castro is clearly not an option in that regard.
Moreland is due $3 million for the 2021 season on a team option. The first baseman is an interesting case. There is a $500,000 buyout to allow the left-handed hitter to walk this winter, but you could argue that his salary is an excellent deal for the Padres. Moreland is insurance for Eric Hosmer at first base and provides plenty of veteran playoff experiences for a young team. The Padres could explore bringing back “Mitchy Two-Bags” and team him with a right-handed hitter to man the DH position in 2021.
The lineup is arguably complete minus an everyday DH-type player. The Padres could explore many options in this regard, and the sky is the limit as far as who they might go after to fill this gap. The Padres still have a top-three farm system in all of baseball and could easily trade a few prospects to upgrade in the area.
CF- Trent Grisham
3B- Manny Machado
1B- Eric Hosmer
RF- Wil Myers
2B- Jake Cronenworth
LF- Tommy Pham
C- Austin Nola
2021 starting pitching staff
There are several questions in regards to this group. The health of Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger will be key for the Padres to reproduce an exciting season like they just enjoyed. Both right-handed pitchers appear to have survived any major injury and should regain full strength by the spring. Behind them, Zach Davies has all but assured himself a spot in the rotation for the 2021 season. Chris Paddack is a significant question mark, as he had an unproductive season in 2020. The Padres could give him every opportunity to earn a rotation spot in the spring, but nothing is a guarantee.
Factor in the next generation of pitchers like MacKenzie Gore, Adrian Morejon, Luis Patino, and Ryan Weathers. It is not clear if any or all will pitch in the rotation next season, but they are all progressing. The Padres sit with many options in the rotation presently, and this youth movement could further complicate the situation. The team could also get flirtatious with Trevor Bauer, a pending free agent this winter. That would be a huge addition for the Padres. A.J. Preller might do some fine-tuning with this group, so stay tuned. Anything can happen.
This was a unit of strength for the team at the end of the season. Despite a slow start and an injury to Kirby Yates, the Padres were able to produce quality relief appearances in 2020. The acquisition of Trevor Rosenthal, Austin Adams, and Dan Altavilla helped in that regard. The team could explore some moves here and will likely bring in several veteran pitchers to compete for jobs this spring. Preller has shown a propensity for finding undervalued talent, and the team will due their diligence to find arms this winter. You can almost surely count on the Padres adding two or three quality arms to the system that other teams disregarded.
The team has plenty of youth in this area and could explore signing some veteran talent. The Padres could find players who complement the team — players who might play a platoon role moving forward and have playoff experience. As the Padres start to become a better team, this part of the squad will improve vastly. In time, you could see the Padres with several former all-stars on their bench. Championship teams have depth, and that is the goal for the San Diego Padres. Competition on a team also brings the best out of players, and the Padres are not afraid to stir the pot.
C/OF- Francisco Mejia
INF- Greg Garcia
OF- Greg Allen
OF- Jorge Ona
INF/OF- Jorge Mateo
The San Diego Padres are a good team. There is a bright future. In time, this team has the ability to become special. This winter will be an active one despite the recent success of this team. A.J. Preller is hell-bent on improving, and that is exactly what they will do. Expect the team to flirt with key free agents and potentially make huge trades to upgrade. The winter will be exciting for the fans as the expectations of 2021 keep building.