Nobody or anything is perfect, and there is always room for improvement. Even after the San Diego Padres made it back to the playoffs and the National League Championship for the first time since 1998, they can still find things to work on for 2023. Here some potential New Year’s resolutions for the Padres:
Improve farm with Development
After yet another blockbuster trade by Padres general manager A.J. Preller for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, San Diego’s farm system became significantly less talented and lost some of its depth. A common criticism of the Padres is its lack of development and home-grown players, so improving on that in 2023 is imperative. With some new top prospects and an overhauled development staff going into its first regular offseason and its second year, the hope must be that there will be better progression in 2023.
Establish your swingmen
The rotation for the padres this upcoming season will be very untraditional, or at least that’s what it seems. Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell are as good of a top-3 as you’ll find in baseball, but there are a ton of question marks after that.
Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo were both brought in as free-agent signings and were told they will get opportunities to start. Both of those right-handed pitchers saw success as relievers after both struggled to start previously in their respective careers.
If Martinez and Lugo aren’t cutting it, the Padres do have other options, whether that is as additional starters or piggybacking two of them.
To illustrate just how versatile (and successful!) Nick Martinez has been this year, he's just become the first guy ever with 10 or more starts, 8 or more saves and 4 or more holds in the same season.
— jesse agler (@jesseagler) September 8, 2022
Ryan Weathers, Padres 2018 first-round pick, has pitched over 100 innings in each of the last two years, albeit with not as much success as he’d like, so the Padres can depend on him to fill some innings either as a starter or reliever. Adrian Morejon began the 2021 season in the Padres’ rotation before undergoing Tommy John surgery that April and serving as a reliever this past year, so he can reasonably be expected to take on a bigger role in 2023, potentially with some starts. Jay Groome, who would likely fill in as a more traditional starter, found his stuff in Triple-A El Paso after being acquired by the Padres from the Boston Red Sox in the Eric Hosmer trade.
There are no shortage of options, it will be all about Padres manager Bob Melvin finding the right ones.
Bridge for the future
With Darvish and Snell entering the final year of their contracts, Manny Machado potentially opting out of his contract to become a free agent, and Juan Soto staring at a possible $400 million contract after the 2024 season, the Padres need to find potential replacements in case these players leave in free agency from within its organization.
Starters were previously mentioned, but can one of the several infielders play shortstop if Machado leaves? Who are some young outfielders that can establish themselves close to major league level? Those questions may need to be answered in addition to trying to win the World Series.
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Keep Tatis Jr. in the right headspace
Fernando Tatis Jr. will be a massive storyline in San Diego – how will he respond after missing the entire 2022 season by his wrongdoing? He will hear it from opposing fans regarding motorcycles and PEDs, so it will be up to him to block that and focus on justifying his $340 million contract. If he stays healthy and performs somewhere near the high standards he already set for himself, the Padres will undoubtedly be a title contender.
Bring home a championship
It feels reachable for the Padres. The ownership and city is in full support of the team, which only a handful can truly say in MLB. After toppling the 111-win Dodgers and coming up three wins short of its third pennant, the Padres should be extra hungry to finally reach the top of the mountain and claim its first World Series title.
Dominic is currently a Senior at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, studying Sports Journalism. He also hosts the “Devils Talking Padres” podcast and is the producer and co-host of the “Padres EVT Podcast.