The Padres are using a different approach to the 2024 season

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Will a different approach to roster construction result in sustained success for the San Diego Padres? 

In seasons past, the San Diego Padres were the toast of national baseball.

ESPN, MLB Network, and all the major sports outlets talked about the Padres continually. And why not? In their last few winters, the team signed Manny Machado, extended Fernando Tatis Jr., traded for Juan Soto and Josh Hader, and signed Xander Bogaerts through free agency. Constructing the big four and assembling Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove to lead the rotation was supposed to equal a championship for San Diego.

Instead, the city was disappointed. Something we are all familiar with in San Diego.

Fast forward to the current Padres roster, and the pitching staff is in shambles. Juan Soto will wear Yankee pinstripes next year, and there are reports that the team will surely not go over the $200 million mark in payroll this coming season. This is a cold time in Padres’ history.

Or is it?

Well, if you are old enough to remember continued fire sales from the Padres franchise, then you laugh at my previous statement. With a nucleus of talent the likes of Tatis, Machado, and Bogaerts, this current era of Padres baseball is nothing to be ashamed of if you are a fan. There were far worse times to be a Padre fan. Perhaps we need to all settle down.

Sure, spending all that money was nice. To be gluttons and “buy” your roster was a satisfying feeling for a change. But we all knew that kind of gluttony was not sustainable and was a huge gamble in itself. It never really works in Major League Baseball when you construct a roster full of All-Stars. The Padres proved that statement once again. It takes chemistry to win, and even though the Padres’ numbers were not horrific as a team, they failed to earn wins in the standings collum.

Sadly, Juan Soto was traded to satisfy the team’s immediate pitching needs. He will be missed, but the Padres must move on. With his departure, there are opportunities for young players to step in and play. Jackson Merrill and Jakob Marsee will get an opportunity in the spring to win jobs at the major league level. It will be exciting to see the team cultivate homegrown offensive players and plug them into the nucleus of talent. Ethan Salas and Samuel Zavala are not that far away, and we are weeks away from Leodalis De Vries signing a deal with the Padres. More talent is on its way.

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It is a different era of Padres baseball.

Yuki Matsui was signed this week to a very reasonable deal. Five years and roughly $28 million for the veteran pitcher is exactly the signing you will see from the Padres in the future. The team is looking for bargains—players who are undervalued. Matsui recorded over 200 saves in the Japanese league and should prove to be a steal for the Padres, even if he is not able to close out games in the majors.

A left-handed pitcher like Matsui, who spins the ball and throws strikes, is valuable in itself. Josh Hader will likely get a five or six-year deal north of $100 million this winter. The Padres essentially gained a player with his ability and worth at the end of a game for a fraction of the price. That kind of spending is what will ultimately help the Padres reach their goal.

They must be smarter with roster construction and concentrate on cultivating and developing the players.

The Padres possess a nucleus of talent. Now, they must build around them with role players and young prospects. If the trade season comes around next August and the Padres have an opportunity to add to their payroll and trade for a huge talent, they can still do it. The payroll may be inflated in the right situation. A lot of factors will determine that.

Heading into the 2024 season, there are reasons to be concerned about the future of the Padres. The Evil Empire to the north re-stocked this winter and will be a formidable foe once again as they look to assert their dominance upon the division. The Dodgers are built to be a force for years to come, but there is no reason why the Padres cannot contend and do damage within the league. The current era of Padres baseball will certainly be interesting to watch.

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