The 2022-23 offseason is an important one for the Padres, there is no doubt about it.
Everybody wants a star-free agent during the offseason to improve their roster. Bringing in a star can change the direction of a franchise, and it brings hope to the fanbase. However, as exciting as that is, the Padres should take a different route.
The Padres were three wins away from the World Series. They certainly have the talent to make it right back to a pennant chase, despite losing some key names to free agency.
Superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. will return sometime in late April. He is as good as any free agent in this class. Going out and spending a ton of money on one player won’t necessarily bring the Padres what they need for the future.
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We saw it in the playoffs; anything can happen when you have star power. The Padres proved they had just that. Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Jake Cronenworth, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove all showed how valuable they were during that postseason run. With Tatis coming back after an 80-game suspension and wrist and shoulder surgery, they have one of the best young players in the game returning to the lineup to help get them right back to the postseason.
Going out and signing another shortstop or expensive field-position player may look sweet on paper, but it could really hurt the club if it doesn’t pan out.
As many Padres fans know, the organization has a history of injuries and not being able to handle them correctly. We saw that a lot in years past, and it will continue to happen. With that said, bringing in a few solid depth pieces could benefit this team when trying to make another postseason run.
Ha-Seong Kim did a great job filling in at shortstop in the absence of Tatis. Whether he has secured that position or not, it’s clear that the team is not in need of another shortstop. All the talk about bringing in another shortstop this offseason is mind-boggling when Tatis, Kim, and Cronenworth can all play the position. No one has any idea where Tatis will play, and because of his injury history, it wouldn’t be a shock of they slowly bring him back to the field. Starting him at DH when he returns makes sense, and the team will need another outfielder to fill in for him.
The needs right now are outfielders, a first baseman, and a catcher.
Willson Contreras could fill a massive gap in the Padres’ offense. The Padres benefited from Jorge Alfaro‘s five walk-off hits last season, but most were as pinch-hitter. During the course of the season, the Padres lacked an offensive threat at the catcher position. Austin Nola stepped up at times but can’t be relied on to be the starter for an entire season. The development of Luis Campusano is taking longer than expected, so signing a proven threat could be a huge plus for this club.
Contreras won’t be cheap, but he will be worth the risk. The 3-time All-Star has shown a lot of power and elite defense. He hit 22 homers with 55 RBIs last year and hit 21 with 57 RBIs in 2021.
As for first basemen, East Village Time’s very own James Clark will break down the free-agent 1B list who could end up in San Diego. The top two, 1B Jose Abreu and Anthony Rizzo, are no longer on the market, so a reunion with Brandon Drury could happen.
Potential FA Outfielders
Left fielder Jurickson Profar declined his option and elected free agency. If he signs elsewhere, that would be a tough loss for the lineup that really benefited from his production. Brandon Nimmo, Andrew Benintendi, Ramiel Tapia, Jackie Bradley Jr., Michael Brantley, and Adam Duvall are all great options to bring in, as they have value in all areas of the game. Nimmo is the 7th ranked free agent and 2nd outfielder in this class, according to CBS.
Potential FA Pitchers
Starting pitching is a whole other subject. Spending money to bring in solidified starters is always the call if you can get it done. The Padres can benefit from signing some back-end starters to help complete the rotation. With Jacob deGrom signing with the Texas Rangers and Justin Verlander replacing deGrom in New York, Carlos Rodon is now the top hurler on the market. Rodon would be an excellent starter to bring in to pitch right after Yu Darvish in the rotation. The lefty has been one of the top starters in all of baseball over the last 2-3 seasons.
Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi, and Michael Wacha are other names to keep an eye on as well. All three of them pitched well last season and could be available to the Padres if entertained. Bassitt has ties with manager Bob Melvin from their time in Oakland, and Eovaldi and Wacha have been huge for the Red Sox, despite their lack of success last season.
If the Padres bring in multiple depth players, whether it’s position players, pitchers, or both, the team will see a lot more success during the course of the season compared to last year. And then, when Tatis comes back and picks up where he left off, look out for the Padres to be one of the better teams in MLB. They have a chance to be a real threat to the league once again in 2023.
Chris is a graduate of the University of San Diego. He is the former Sports Editor for the USDVista newspaper. Chris is also an athlete and is huge fan of San Diego sports. Chris has covered the San Diego Loyal, and contributes regularly about the Padres.