Evaluation of major league talent still an issue for Padres

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Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres currently possess one of the deepest rosters in the history of the franchise.

There is hesitation to crown it as the best squad in the organization’s history, as the results have not been there. The ownership group is committed to winning and spending the money to do so- but there is little to be content about in San Diego. Manny Machado, Blake Snell, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Jake Cronenworth are cornerstone players to build around. However, the team is at the point where it only needs to add the critical bit players around the existing group to ensure success.

Adding role players to solidify a championship run is easy to do in concept, but putting it all together is a maddening goal. Something not easily achieved.

For the Padres, it looked like they had the correct group of individuals early in the season. However, a major league season is 162 games, and quite often, it takes that long for the cream to rise. The Padres collapsed and faded down the stretch, only resembling the squad they once were. Injuries were a huge factor, but there was more than that. Issues in the clubhouse led to the dismissal of Jayce Tingler after two years. The Padres are approaching panic mode now.

A.J. Preller has done well to revitalize this dormant baseball city, but there are beginning to be whispers about his job security. It may be too early to dismiss the GM, but this is a results-based business, and the Padres are failing. Not making the playoff in 2021 is a wake-up call.

If you can put your finger on one thing concerning the Padres, it is their lack of proper evaluation of major league talent. Amateur scouting-wise and finding young, unheralded players is a positive for this team. Still, then there are the sad decisions that were made regarding players who are established major leaguers.

The writing is on the wall. You cannot ignore these facts anymore. If the Padres plan on competitive baseball for years to come, they need to make the correct decisions regarding the construction of the whole 26-man roster. This includes the coaching staff and who is to implement this new style of Padres baseball to the players. In San Diego, we heard of this ideal, but it has constantly failed to be put into play consistently.

The Padres general manager and his group successfully traded for Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jake Cronenworth. They also claimed pitchers like Kirby Yates and Brad Hand from the waiver wire. But those moves have proven to be few and far between when it comes to improving the major league club immediately. The results can no longer be ignored.

Take a look at some of the concerning moves this team has made regarding major league evaluation.

Let us know your thoughts.

Trading for Matt Kemp

Making a trade within your division is risky in itself. But trading for an aging star and paying the entire salary was downright dumb. The Padres deciding that Kemp was worth the investment, and they dealt some pretty decent players (Yasmani Grandal, Zach Eflin, Joe Wieland) to the Dodgers to acquire him. The Padres did get $32 million from the Dodgers to take Kemp (which is a huge red flag, by the way) and his $107 million contract.

Kemp was so bad with the Padres that they eventually dealt him 1 1/2 years after acquiring him. He was traded to Atlanta for a player who had domestic violence issues. Hector Olivera never played for the Padres, but they paid his salary until the 2020 season totaling $28.5 million. The Padres also sent the Braves 10.5 million dollars to cover Kemp’s contract. The idea that Kemp would hold some value in a Padres uniform was a huge mistake.

Credit: USA Today Sports

Extending Wil Myers

In January 2017, the Padres extended Wil Myers by giving him the richest contract in the franchise’s history. It guaranteed Myers a total of $83 million through the 2022 season, with a $20 million team option for the 2023 season. At 26, the Padres bought out the three remaining years of his arbitration and bought three years into his free agency. Not a bad deal if he provided the numbers. At this point, Myers hasn’t. However, this extension was not the most tragic thing the Padres have done over the years.

The timing of the deal is what is questionable. Myers was coming off his only All-Star appearance and put up a respectable .797 OPS in 157 games. He played the majority of his time at first base and performed well there. But Myers wasn’t due for free agency until three years at that point. He was also going into his first year of arbitration, where he was scheduled to make $4-5 million. Not the best timing to extend a guy. Sure, the team was in turmoil at that point, and A.J. Preller needed to give the fans some sense of joy. A feeling that this club was built for the long run. The Myers’ deal isn’t a backbreaker. Seeing Trea Turner, on the other hand, and the success he is enjoying turns the stomach of most Padres fans. That is a nightmare in itself as the Padres dealt Turner for Myers in a 3-team trade in December of 2014. One of A.J. Preller’s first moves as the Padres GM.

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Free-agent contract for James Shields, then Eric Hosmer

James Shields and Eric Hosmer turned out to be bad signings for the Padres when it was all said and done. James Shields signed a four-year deal for $75 million with the Padres before the 2015 season. The right-handed pitcher did not enjoy his time in the NL, and there was almost immediate remorse from the Padres. Shields was flipped for Fernando Tatis Jr. as the Padres had a better idea of the value of the White Sox young minor leaguers. Preller is a guru at this kind of scouting. He easily recognizes players who have the ability to be major league prospects. That is genuinely his strength in the game. But again, the overvaluing of current major leagues is killing this franchise. The Padres were very lucky that their lottery ticket (Tatis) turned out to be gold.

Eric Hosmer was signed despite the fact no other team was close to signing him. Boston flirted with him but signed Mitch Moreland instead at a fraction of the cost. The signing of Hosmer happened late in the free agency period as other clubs determined Scott Boras was asking too much for his client. The Padres, for some reason, paid the asking price. San Diego inked the first baseman to an 8-year/$144 million deal. The team did this despite the fact their most recent front office hire, Dave Cameron (senior analysis), was adamant about not spending money on him. Cameron was hired from FanGraphs to assist in major league evaluation but yet was ignored in this department. To Preller’s credit, Cameron helped the Padres find Jake Cronenworth and Trent Grisham. So there is that. The GM and his group did listen. Eventually.


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