Padres attempting to compete in high stakes poker game called MLB

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres are attempting to compete in MLB. 

San Diego Padres ‘ownership has obviously recognized that it takes money to compete in Major League Baseball.

An organization that has consistently ranked toward the bottom (20th or lower) in payroll has ascended to 11th on the list according to spotrac.com. Next year the team’s outlay will jump to $139 million thanks to a big bump in Wil Myers’ contract from $5.5 million to $22.5 million.

Of course, the usual suspects–the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers—remain the biggest spenders of all.  And it should come as no surprise that each of those teams except for the Dodgers has won the World Series in the last ten years.

This year three of the teams in the top five made it to the postseason, as did five ranked in the bottom half in payroll:

New York Yankees (#2)           $223 million

Houston Astros (#8)                 $169 million

Washington Nationals (#7)     $172 million

St. Louis Cardinals (#6)           $174 million

Atlanta Braves (#15)                $144 million

Milwaukee Brewers (#16)       $136 million

Minnesota Twins (#18)            $125 million

Tampa Bay Rays (#30)            $64 million

Oakland A’s (#25)                    $93 million

As a refreshing change of pace, this year, the Washington Nationals, ranked seventh with a salary of $172 million, won it all. Starting pitcher Max Scherzer topped the Nats’ payroll at $38 million. Scherzer made every penny count, winning every game he pitched when it matters the most –- in October.

Obviously, the Rays and the A’s defied trends yet again by competing despite financial limitations. Over the years, the front office staff of both teams has excelled at putting together teams that defy the odds. In addition, both play in lamentable ballparks, and neither attracts enormous crowds.

Despite those odds, the A’s have made 28 postseason appearances, won 16 division titles, 15 league pennants, and nine championships (the latest in 1989). However, the team has been around since the early 1900s and played in Philadelphia and Kansas City before moving to Oakland in 1968. The Rays have won two division titles, two wild card births, and one American League pennant, accomplishing that in a relatively few years since the team only became a reality in 1998.

Unfortunately, World Series’ winners like the Nationals remain outliers. According to fueledbysports.com, since 1992, a team ranked in the top five in payroll won the big prize every year except the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. Since 1998, the last year the Padres made it to the World Series, the Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) remain the only team ranked lower than 16th to make it all the way.

In their year at the top, the Marlins ranked 25th in payroll, and their highest-paid player, second baseman Luis Castillo, made $4.850 million. Jack McKeon managed that team. He’s remembered fondly by Padres’ fans as Trader Jack, the general manager of the Padres who drafted Tony Gwynn, traded for Garry Templeton and signed Steve Garvey, propelling the team to the 1984 World Series.

In 2020 familiar names will again carry the most in projected payroll:

Yankees      $243 million

Red Sox      $219 million

Astros         $204 million

Cubs           $183 million

Dodgers      $173 million

The Padres will make a huge jump in salary and ranking. However, $75.5 million will go to just three players: Manny Machado ($32 million), Wil Myers ($22.5 million), and Eric Hosmer ($21 million). There’s a massive gap between those paychecks and the next highest salaried player, newcomer Tommy Pham at $8.6 million. The highest-paid pitcher, Garrett Richards, will take home slightly less at $8.5 million.

So far, two of the big three wage earners have not lived up to their salaries, proving that just throwing money around doesn’t produce guaranteed results. With the pressure on as never before, general manager A.J. Preller has a considerable task in putting together a roster that can at least play .500 ball, let alone compete in the high stakes game of baseball.

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.

10 thoughts on “Padres attempting to compete in high stakes poker game called MLB

  1. If you trust AJ Preller to make some really good baseball decisions and take the Padres to the playoffs, I think you may be a bit delusional. WHERE is the proof? Why has ownership stood by the guy? I wish to God that Josh Byrnes was still in charge…. Truth be said, I am a Padres fan because I love the San Diego area. It isn’t because I want to follow Preller down his yellow brick road.

    Why was Hunter Renfroe traded? So Preller could purge the organization of any player(s) he personally didn’t draft, sign or trade for? It was so ridiculous to get rid of a “gold glove” caliber outfielder who also hits plenty of home runs. If he is healthy this coming season – and why won’t he be – watch what he does with Tampa Bay. But let’s keep adding more outfielders! Soon to come – Austin Hedges, literally one of the 3 best defensive catchers in MLB will be leaving. Won’t that be the end of all pre-Preller players on the Padres? That’s a mouthful! By my count, he has removed FOUR; Spangenberg, Jankowski, Renfroe and soon – Austin Hedges. Here’s all you need to know; if AJ Preller didn’t sign you, YOU can’t play the game. I’m going to watch the Padres and follow them as close as I can. And I’m going to hope that ownership finally sees what many of us have seen the past 3 years – AJ Preller is NO GM and he needs to go as soon as possible.

    1. Hello Gary,
      Thanks for the comment. Alas, I share many of your concerns about current management of the Padres. Preller is obviously biased in favor of his guys, but only Hedges remains of the players he inherited.
      Frankly, I’m more concerned about the lack of a coherent plan and big contracts for average (at best) players limiting options. There’s just too much of a feeling of throwing stuff on the wall to see what sticks….
      Diane

    1. Hosmer making the team better is not something you can just speak into existence. The painful reality is: Dude is HORRIBLE by every meaningful measure, including the eye-ball test. In fact, you could be the only person on the planet who thinks he is a positive.

      1. Hello Tommy,
        Unfortunately, I have to agree with you. When I researched a recent article on his defense I was frankly shocked. He may have Gold Gloves, but he’s never even been average as a defender at first base, which is one of the less challenging positions on the diamond.
        Thanks for your input.
        Diane

    2. Hello Scott,
      I did watch and what I saw was not what I expected. After all, Hosmer won multiple Gold Gloves. The numbers, however, show that he’s always been a below-average fielder. And his offense didn’t make up for the shoddy defense.
      I appreciate your reading and taking the time to comment,
      Diane

  2. Theres spending money, and then theres spending smart. The padres have done more of the former as of late, notably with hosmer and myers. They should have waited for myers to prove he can do play well for more than half a season. With hosmer, they were bidding against themselves. No one was valuing hosmer at the $ he got. Then, at the same time, you make it harder for the guy you just signed, having to displace him from a position he was just getting comfortable in. I like that they have been more willing to spend, but please use your resources better.

    1. Too true, Micah,
      Teams like the Padres have to spend wisely. I think the team would have been better off leaving Myers at first and giving him a chance to prove himself. Instead, he became a player without a position, which undoubtedly messed with his head. At the time the Hosmer signing made no sense and makes even less sense now.
      The combined salaries (as well as Machado’s) give the team very little wiggle room.
      Thanks for the comment and for reading EVT.
      Diane

  3. As a fan it is always gratifying to see one’s team spend to acquire talent, but spending money without skill is a recipe for another decade of crap teams. The Myers extension and the Hosmer signing were evidence of a shocking lack of judgment, like what one would expect of an 8 year old in a candy shop on allowance day.
    Let’s hope Preller pulls off another trade or 2 and that our club can be a low 80’s win team in 2020.

    1. Hello Tom,
      It is gratifying to see the Padres spend money, as it’s been a rather low budget operation until recently. However, the money can’t just be thrown around, and mistakes have more of an impact than they do for the big market teams.
      In my view, the Hosmer signing just doubled down on the Myers’ mistake.
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts,
      Diane

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.