If an opening emerges at first base for the team, can the San Diego Padres afford to make a run at free-agent Freddie Freeman?
The short answer is yes. These are not your father’s Padres.
Peter Seidler and the current ownership group are hell-bent on providing a World Series title to a fan base that is starved of a championship. To sign Freeman, you are looking at a commitment of at least four or five years at around $25-30 million per season. The 32-year-old is coming off a World Series title, and his value has never been any higher.
Spending $100-150 million for four or five years of Freeman seems doable for San Diego, but the Padres are presently heavily invested in their roster. The organization has made several big signings in bringing Manny Machado to San Diego and securing Fernando Tatis Jr. for the long term. It will take some creativity for the franchise to invest another $100 million into another player, but it is possible. A.J. Preller is excellent at thinking outside the box.
The San Diego Padres can indeed afford to add Freddie Freeman to their current roster, but there are several variables to consider before the two sides can come to an agreement. Let’s take a look at some roadblocks to a possible union between the two sides.
Trade of Eric Hosmer
The first thing that MUST happen is the Padres need to trade Eric Hosmer. It is also mandatory that they do not pay any of his remaining salary in the process. With multiple young prospects, this seems conceivable. Packaging Hosmer and the likes of CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Luis Campusano, and Robert Hassell III is enough to get any franchise’s attention. Losing any of these four men is not an appealing thought for the fans, but you must think of the overall picture.
For the Padres, the trick is to make a deal without losing any of these top prospects. That may not be possible, but the Padres and their staff will explore every angle as the trade season opens up. There is depth on the Padres roster, and some other prospect names could emerge in trade talks. If the Padres were to free up close to $60 million for the next four years in trading Hosmer, there is reason to believe they will re-invest that sum of money right away to improve the team.
Saving $60 million for four years of Hosmer is about half the money that would be needed overall to sign Freeman. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you get a sense the team needs to shed more salary to have a chance at securing Freddie Freeman for the future. In a recent Dennis Lin article from the Athletic, the longtime Padres beat writer communicated. “There has been at least one discussion involving a high-profile target in which the Padres suggested that the price would require them to move Hosmer and Myers.” The Padres are exploring every angle, and a signing of Freddie Freeman is one scenario they have likely discussed.
Remove expensive veterans from the roster
Wil Myers is the first obvious choice as he is due $22.5 million for the 2022 season and will be owed an extra one million dollars to buy out his $2o million team option for the 2023 season. Myers will save the team right away as the Padres could easily replace his production on the free-agent market for fractions of the price. Josh Harrison, Eddie Rosario, and Jorge Soler all make sense to some degree. The team could also start the year with CJ Abrams, Jorge Ona, or another young outfielder manning the position to begin the 2022 campaign.
In saving money, the Padres may also look into dealing Drew Pomeranz who is owed $20 million for the next two years. Health has been an issue for the lefty as he just hasn’t been available for the team in his two years since returning to San Diego. Pomeranz has pitched impressively when he has been healthy, but the Padres may look to save money. Jurickson Profar is owed $15.6 million for the next two years and could also be a player the Padres trade to gain financial flexibility. There are options to lighten the overall budget if needed. These are merely a few examples. A signing of Freddie Freeman does not seem that unreasonable. At least financially.
Convince Freeman to stay away from the Dark Side
Freddie Freeman has ties to Southern California as the first baseman grew up miles from the Angels stadium in Orange County. Anaheim is not a likely destination for the first baseman, but there is another team in the area who could get excellent use out of a first baseman. And the Dodgers certainly have money to spend. Freeman would get the best financial offer from LA and may even be able to convince the Dodgers to give him a six or seven-year deal. That is a scary thought for the Padres if the two sides get into a bidding war.
San Diego will have difficulty giving Freeman over $150 million and still remain capable of filling out the roster with competent players. It is possible to work around a restricted budget as the Padres have several young players who are not due for free agency for years and years. Preller and his staff will need to convince Freddie Freeman to come to San Diego. Convey to the slugger that the Padres are on the verge of something special. That is not really a tough sell regarding the talent on the field. However, the money is a whole different situation. Expect things to happen rather quickly once play opens up after the labor dispute. The Padres have several angles in play, and one of them does center around Freddie Freeman. Stay tuned, Padres fans. Expect the unexpected as the 2021 season is hopefully around the corner.