Padres Editorial: Should the Padres Be Spending Money on Free Agents?

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Credit: San Diego UT
Credit: San Diego UT

There is a lot of talk around town that the Padres are being left behind in the National League West. The Giants and Diamondbacks have both spent a ton of money on starting pitching. The Dodgers have stock piled prospects and seem poised to make a huge move eventually. The Padres in the mean time have shed payroll and added prospects but haven’t addressed any of their main concerns.

The San Francisco Giants just spent over $200 million dollars on two pitchers that are a big risk. Johnny Cueto has had numerous arm, rib and leg issues. As recently as last year he complained of elbow stiffness. Not to mention his performance once he went over to the Royals at the trade deadline. He was 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.451 WHIP. Still he was given a huge payday by the Giants.

Jeff Samardzija is coming off his worst season in the major leagues and still has yet to have a winning record as a starting pitcher. Yes I know wins are an overrated stat for pitchers, but it is has to be a concern if you are a Giants fan. Greinke received a huge pay-day from the D’Backs. He looks to be in the prime of his career, but you never know. Spending $206 million dollars on a 32-year-old pitcher is a risk.

Be proud that the Padres are not foolish like that. Guaranteeing that kind of money to players who can have their career end on one single pitch is crazy. It would be crippling financially if any of the pitchers were hurt in the tenure of their contracts. Not to mention Johnny Cueto has an opt out clause and can leave after two years if he feels he can get more money on the open market. That kind of deal leaves no leverage to the franchise. If Cueto pitches well, he will leave and cost the Giants more money. If he doesn’t pitch well, the Giants are stuck paying his contract. Seems like a horrible contract situation to me.

With a smaller market team you have to be creative with your money. The Padres are spending money, fans can no longer cry foul on that. They will never be a team spending $200 million dollars on a player. That will never happen. Not in this generation and with this franchise just beginning to change its culture.

With all that being said, there is still plenty of time and plenty of quality players out there. The Padres look to be active on the trade front and they could also get active with potential free agents. Look for the team to be active and pick up players that they feel are a bargain. Scott Kazmir, Austin Jackson, Denard Span, Tim Lincecum and Fernando Rodney provide interesting options for the team.

Credit: UT San Diego
Credit: UT San Diego

Jon Jay is a free agent after this year and the Padres will likely move him come July. A left-handed veteran batter will fetch a nice return of prospects, making the Jedd Gyorko deal pay even more dividends. A.J. Preller and Padres management are thinking two steps ahead. So look for the team to sign some talented players on one year incentive loaded deals, and if the team isn’t competing come July, they can trade them for talent and restock the farm system with hand-picked talent.

The layout is set for success. This team cannot compete with the large market teams by outbidding them on players. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Jason Heyward and Jeff Samardzija are all out of the Padres price range. If you honestly believed the team was going to be active in signing them, then you are far too naive on the dynamics of the San Diego Padres. It wasn’t going to happen. The team cannot be built that way.

The Kansas City Royals provide an interesting blue print for all smaller market teams to follow. They too will never be able to outbid the large market teams in the league. Instead they have developed a great scouting and farm system and at the same time extend their young talent early before they hit free agency. A nice model to follow, but sometimes it is much easier said than done.

The Padres will attempt to follow that diagram but the team and the franchise still want to compete in some degree. They are not committed to a full rebuild. They have some talent to build around centering on Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, James Shields, Derek Norris, Tyson Ross and Brandon Maurer. This team is not bad as it currently sits and Preller hasn’t really made any additions for the 2016 season. The free agent market will heat up. Just give it time.

5 thoughts on “Padres Editorial: Should the Padres Be Spending Money on Free Agents?

  1. Money is not necessary the answer. The SD organization never spent too much money in the free agency, that is why AJP surprises every one in the 2014 winter meetings. Finally something went wrong. If the 2016 Team will be build with young prospects in the current veterans basement something good may happen. Baseball players are now in the game for money and after a big contract their lose their love for the ball game.

  2. Mr. Clark: Good article. However, I think the model franchise for the Padres (as Mr. Preller has mentioned) should be the Cardinals. While the Royals, Cubs, and Pirates are currently fashionable media favorites, they’ve really been good only about once a generation — sort of like the Padres. KC, CHC, and PIT actually represent ‘the occasional benefits of tanking.’ The Cardinals, on the other hand, are almost always good. How do they do it?

  3. To claim the team is “not bad ” and “set for success” in its current state is wishful thinking. This is a team which won only 74 games and from which has lost its starting left fielder (Upton ), starting 2nd baseman (Gyorko), starting pitcher (Kennedy), closer (Kimbrel) and set up man (Benoit). They rest at the bottom of all offensive and defensive WAR statistics. I wish it were not so.

  4. I’m beginning to question the Padres’ sincerity regarding international free agents. They seem to be linked to all the major ones last year and this year; are identified as “interested” and often are mentioned as having made an offer, but not a single deal gets done. I read somewhere that AJ sets a value and doesn’t budge. Either he sets the value too low, or won’t negotiate, or is perfectly content when someone else gets the player. Unsettling.

  5. Kim was a very affordable option for the Padres – even if it meant two years at five mil each. He was a LH bat who gets on base very well with very good contact skills and even some power. If Preller is about accruing good talent cheaply then this guy was a no-brainer.

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