The 2022 season was a success for the San Diego Padres, even though they fell short of their goal.
The team went deep into the playoffs, and for the Padres, that was a massive step in the right direction.
The Padres will return in 2023 with a mostly intact roster, though they will be missing a few players from the 2022 team that surprised many in MLB.
Here is a look at the eight men who may test the free-agent waters this winter. Four players have options (whether a team option or player option) and are not guaranteed free agency yet. It will all become clear in the next few weeks as the World Series wraps.
Martinez can earn $7 million this coming season if he accepts his player option and remains in San Diego. If he elects free agency, the Padres will pay him $1.5 million, and he may explore other options. It is painfully obvious that the right-handed pitcher will test free agency. The Padres will explore bringing him back, but they will be hard-pressed to match what a team may throw his way on the open market. It will come down to money and desire for Martinez to pitch in San Diego. Ruben Niebla will be a huge factor as well, as the Padres pitching coach connects well with the veteran pitcher.
Odd of returning to San Diego- 85%
With an $8.33 million option for the 2023 season, Profar is not guaranteed to return. The Padres will be on the hook if he elects to walk for one million dollars. Profar played in 152 games last season and put up a 3.1 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. The switch-hitter may want to explore free agency and better money. The native of Curacoa showed that he could handle the outfield position, though he is not the best at route running. Profar is among the three finalists for Gold Glove partially because he threw out ten runners, which put him fourth best in the N.L. Expect the Padres to explore all possibilities in bringing back Profar, as he can play multiple positions and entrenched himself in the clubhouse.
Odds of returning to San Diego- 70%
There is a $5 million option on Suarez for the 2023 season, and the Padres can only dream that he will accept it. The reality is that Suarez will elect free agency, and the Padres will need to give him a raise. The two sides are very comfortable with each other, and you get a sense that Suarez enjoyed his time in San Diego. Expect the Padres to bring him back on a two or three-year deal in which he earns market value for a high-leverage reliever (in the 8-10 million per season area). Signing Suarez will be one of the team’s biggest priorities this winter.
Odds of returning to San Diego- 85%
The $20 million team option for the 2023 season will not be picked up, and Myers will be a free agent this winter as the Padres will gladly pay the one million dollar buyout. Is there no chance of the two sides re-uniting this winter? At the beginning of the year, one would say no way. But as the season unwound and Myers looked more comfortable in the box, there began to be whispers. Factor in that the Padres need a first baseman next year, and you can see how this makes sense (to a small degree). Myers would need to take a massive pay cut, but you get the feeling money wouldn’t be the most significant motivating factor for the right-handed hitter. In a perfect world, the Padres bring him back on a small salaried deal with incentives. This is not likely to happen but never say never.
Odds of returning to San Diego- 40%
The Padres included several prospects to the Nationals for the services of Juan Soto and Josh Bell. The expectation was that Bell would provide stability in the middle of the order and drive in runs for the Padres. Bell was not impressive on defense and lost playing time late in the year and during the playoffs to Wil Myers at first base. The switch-hitter struggled badly, and the Padres will be hard-pressed to match any offer Bell gets on the open market. He should get a multiple-year deal somewhere, and San Diego will likely look elsewhere to spend this winter.
Odds of returning to San Diego- 15%
Of all the true free agents on this list, Drury makes the most sense for the Padres. The Padres will need a first base option for the 2023 season, and teaming him with a left-handed hitter would be a lethal combination. The value of Drury could get expensive, and the Padres may elect to stay away from spending on the right-handed hitter. It will come down to cost for the Padres and whether or not they think Drury is a good fit for the new lineup in which they are developing.
Odds of returning to San Diego- 70%
The San Diego Padres sent a hefty haul of prospects to Cleveland for the services of Mike Clevinger. It has not worked out well for the Padres, as the pitcher hurt himself at the end of the 2020 season, missed the entire 2021 season, and pitched below his norm this past year with San Diego. The Padres will possibly look at bringing him back, but it will have to be on a one-year deal and extremely team-friendly. The Padres will need to acquire pitching this winter and ‘Sunshine” may be an option for the Friars.
Odds of returning to San Diego- 60%
Manaea began his Padres career wonderfully but faded down the stretch and was only used once in the playoffs by the Padres. The lefty thrives up in the zone, but there were times when he was shelled by opposing teams. The Padres will need end of the rotation starters, and there is familiarity between the two sides. The Padres may elect to bring back the veteran pitcher on a team-friendly deal, but you get a sense that Manaea may get a multiple-year deal from someone. He has been relatively healthy. You just expect more from him in the stat line.
Odds of returning to San Diego- 45%