The Padres are entering a make or break moment for the future

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Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

With less than 30 games before the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline (which is on August 1), the San Diego Padres are entering a pivotal part of their year.

The Padres are currently five games below the .500 mark in the standings and sit in fourth place in the N.L. West. They are 7.5 games behind the Dodgers, who are underachieving themselves and in third place. It will take a minor miracle for this team to get back into the race. The roster is capable, but the players simply don’t seem willing.

It is difficult to put a finger on what the Padres’ main issue is in 2023.

Yes, they are horrible with runners in scoring position, but it seems to go way beyond that.

The team plays excellent defense. The starting staff and the bullpen have been solid for the majority of the season (5th in overall ERA). The offensive numbers are in the middle of the pack for the most part as well. They are ultimately just failing to win games. It is pretty head-scratching.

In close games, the team is folding and failing to get the job done.

Bob Melvin is feeling the heat. A.J. Preller is feeling the heat.

There must be better results in the next four weeks, or else the Padres may be forced to change gears.

As a fan, you don’t want to think about it. However, the Padres must have a plan in place if this season continues to go down the dark path in which it is presently on right now. Assuming A.J. Preller’s job is safe, you can be sure the general manager has scenarios laid out before him in case of emergency. The team will adjust.

Credit: A.P. Photo

Here are two completely different angles the team may go as the deadline approaches.

Stay the course, and add talent.

The team looks as though they will hover around the .500 mark all season long. Right as soon as they make some progression in the standings, they lay an egg in a series against a team that they should beat; it has been very frustrating to watch for the fans of the team. This roster has a lot of upside, and to look past them too early would be foolish. As long as they are statistically still in the race, the focus should be on improvement.

The Padres are certainly capable of catching fire down the stretch and making it into the playoffs. It would be a difficult pill to swallow if San Diego decides to sell off some of their talent. In this scenario, the team could conceivably add talent. Strengthening the bullpen or potentially adding another bat would easily be an upgrade for this team. They could also get involved in sweepstakes for starting pitchers. Preller has the reputation to be aggressive, and expect nothing less in early August from him and the Padres. No matter where they are in the standings.

Sell, sell, sell.

Josh Hader and Blake Snell are pending free agents. Each left-handed pitcher would fetch a nice haul of young players this August if the Padres choose to go that route. The Padres are financially committed in a huge way to a group of players. Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and Jake Cronenworth are all signed for the long term. This group will make north of one billion dollars when it is all said and done. If the Padres want to fill out their roster with useful players, they will need to add low-cost talent for the next several years.

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If the Padres trade talent this season, it does not signify a fire sale. That must be stressed to those reading this. Snell and Hader are probably not going to be signed long-term this winter, so it would be wise to move on from them. The Padres could also choose to give qualifying offers to both players and possibly receive a compensation pick in the 2024 draft, but that is a long process and a real risk. Preller is a scouting mastermind, and he may already be looking for talent among the contending teams. Anything can happen.

The verdict.

The Padres are too talented to keep playing the way they are right now. That may be the case, but there certainly is no guarantee of future success for this roster. It is complicated, and the rest of the season really could go either way for this talented group of baseball players.

Expect this team to continue to toil as the weather heats up. If the Padres make a move in the coming weeks, that may improve their chances of the playoffs in 2023. You get a sense that the locker room needs a shake-up. The players need to be reminded of what their ultimate goal is in the league. Adding players at the beginning of August may be too late for results from this team in 2023 as they continue to dig themself into a huge hole. It is now or never for the San Diego Padres, and the next 20-25 games will dictate which direction this team will go moving forward.

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