Spring Training is underway. Fans scour the internet for news, as the regular season is just weeks rather than months away. Spring training games have yet to start, but less than two weeks remain until those begin. Baseball is finally in the air.
For baseball fans, this is the happiest time of the year. That is, unless you are a Padres fan. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Padres are not destined for greatness in 2016. Coming off a down year that began with such high expectations, the Padres look to be a mid-70 win team yet again this season. While the team has taken the correct steps in the right direction, those results will not be seen this year, or perhaps even next.
At this point, Padres fans have two big things to look forward to this season with regards to their baseball team. First, and most important, the 2016 MLB All Star Game will be held in San Diego this July. The All Star game should be great for the city of San Diego, as it will allow fans around baseball to see that San Diego can be a baseball site.
While the All Star Game is going to be a great time for Padre fans, there is an even bigger event to look forward to this July (or August apparently this year). That is the 2016 trade deadline.
I know what you are thinking. “Man, that is four months away. The season hasn’t even started.” That may be so, but this year’s trade deadline will truly be unlike any other. With such a poor free agent class available next offseason, this year’s trade deadline could see a lot more movement than the usual. For a team like the Padres, that could be of a huge benefit.
It’s pretty clear the Padres are in a sort of rebuild at this point. Whether the front office wants to come out and say it or not, this team is not realistically competing this year, or even next year for that matter. The earliest likelihood of the Padres fielding a team with a realistic chance of making the playoffs would be 2018. That isn’t me trying to be pessimistic, just realistic.
With that in mind, this year’s trade deadline should play a monumental role on that future, and what the Padres roster will look like come 2018 and beyond. The price will be high for all teams involved, and the Padres will be perfectly poised to capitalize on a huge buyer’s market. A.J. Preller will get a second chance to remedy his lack of movement at last year’s trade deadline.
Barring setbacks, any number of Padre players could be shopped at the deadline, including the biggest pieces of James Shields, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and even Derek Norris, and perhaps some others. Contending teams in need of pitching, look no further than the Padres. With Stephen Strasburg the only free agent pitcher of note next offseason, Tyson Ross could be a good short-term investment for a team looking for a player beyond this year. On the flip side, Andrew Cashner, depending on performance, could be the same thing for a team looking to invest in their playoff push this year.
It’s obviously way too early to say, but this July could be the most critical time in the Padres franchise development. With a team not yet good enough to compete, the Padres may be able to capitalize on several assets in a buyer’s market, and recoup a good amount of value in the process. Trading any of these players will be hard this summer, but if the value is right, the front office needs to pull the trigger. The future of the San Diego Padres franchise may depend on it.