The future of the San Diego Padres is very bright as the team has a solid foundation.
Finally, after frequent directional changes during A.J. Preller’s tenure, the Padres have a strong foundation upon which to build. The roster needs tweaking rather than a major overhaul.
The overhaul itself has taken place over time since the Padres hired Preller in August 2014. With the departure of Hunter Renfroe in the offseason, this team belongs completely to this general manager. And, for the first time in his tenure, San Diego had more wins than losses and reached the postseason—just in the nick of time considering Ron Fowler’s warning that “heads will roll” without substantial improvement over 2019’s desultory performance.
For the first time in years, Padres players and rookie manager Jayce Tingler have even been nominated for and received top awards. Jake Cronenworth won the Rookie Of the Year award for the National League. The last Padre to do so was Benito Santiago in 1987. Centerfielder Trent Grisham took home a Gold Glove, the first since Chase Headley in 2012.
Manny Machado has been nominated for Most Valuable Player honors and manager Jayce Tingler for Manager of the Year. The last Padre to win the MVP award? Ken Caminiti in 1996. The last Manager of the Year? Bud Black in 2010. On Thursday, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Machado received Silver Sluggers joining Fred McGriff and Gary Sheffield, who won in 1992.
Obviously, no Padres pitchers were included in the Cy Young awards competition, the last to win being Jake Peavy in 2007. However, with Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet at the top of the rotation in 2021–and healthy–anything is possible.
Under Preller and the current ownership group, the Padres have increased payroll dramatically. Before Ron Fowler and the O’Malley/Seidler family took over the franchise, the team always ranked toward the bottom in payroll but moved up to 11th this year with the usual suspects, the New York Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, and Astros, leading in expenditures.
Thanks to a shortened season and no fans in the stands, MLB Commissioner has Rob Manfred warned of a $2.3 to $3 billion shortfall. With the Padres 2020 budget around $145 million, Preller may have $20 million at most to spread around.
He has to juggle the hefty salaries owed to Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, and Machado, and at least consider offering Fernando Tatis Jr. an extension as he will become a free agent in 2024. He’s already made painful cuts reducing staff by 25 people in baseball operations.
What about free agents like Trevor Rosenthal and Jurickson Profar? Will the Padres continue to peddle Myers, who is owed $22.5 million a year for two more years? Or will Myers’ 159 OPS+ in 2020 convince what’s left of the front office to hang on to him?
No one predicted a global pandemic before this season, and the future has become even murkier as Coronavirus cases reached new heights in the United States this week. The successful development or effectiveness of a vaccine remains unknown. But Padres fans can celebrate a team headed in the right direction, a team in need of a few tweaks rather than radical change.