The Padres Entering the Most Important Offseason in Team History
The Padres have preached for multiple years that 2020 is the opening of the contention window. It’s time to put up or shut up.
It’s been a long time for Padres fans. Thirteen seasons have now come and gone since the last time there was playoff baseball in San Diego, and fans are way past restless. This is a new era of Padres baseball with a superstar in Manny Machado and a ridiculous amount of top prospects, a few of whom have transitioned to legit major league studs in Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack.
There is a core forming, a championship core even. Along with the players mentioned above, and despite his less-than-inspiring numbers, Eric Hosmer has “been there” and “done that” in the playoffs, reaching back-to-back World Series in 2014 and 2015 and winning a title with the Kansas City Royals.
Let’s not forget that Manny Machado is no stranger to leading a team to the playoffs while navigating around behemoths in his division. He helped the Orioles make the playoffs three times between 2012 and 2016, in arguably the toughest division in baseball.
The Padres now enter an offseason where they cannot afford to sit idly by. The National League West is one of the toughest divisions in baseball as the Los Angeles Dodgers seemingly have a death grip on the top spot. If the Padres are serious about opening their window of contention this next season, it’s not going to open unprovoked spontaneously. It’s going to need to be thrust open forcefully.
San Diego has only been to the playoffs five times in 51 seasons, reaching two World Series but only winning one game between the two. They have been more or less one of the more laughable franchises in baseball, maybe even all of the American sports.
It’s time for that to end.
This is the most crucial offseason in team history for multiple reasons.
First, A.J. Preller has a truck-load of ammo by way of prospects to wheel and deal to bring essentially any current ballplayer under contract he so desires, if he is willing to pay the price. Despite guys like Tatis, Paddack and Luis Urias graduating, the Friars still boast one of, if not the best farm system in baseball. Very few of those prospects should be considered untouchable. Guys in Low-A ball will not contribute on this team until 2022 or 2023 at the earliest while the Padres are looking to contend now.
Aside from MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño and perhaps CJ Abrams, anyone can be dealt for the right piece. The Padres are in the best position of any team in Major League Baseball to deal prospects and bring in a player of their choosing. The franchise has never had this much talent up and down their organization, and it’s time to take advantage of that.
A.J. Preller has no excuse not to be active this winter, especially with the need of starting pitching talent. The Padres were 18th in starter ERA in 2019. He needs to add depth to all positions, including the bullpen (19th in bullpen ERA) and the outfield (20th in fWAR among outfields).
Plus, several Padres prospects will be exposed to the Rule 5 draft that either need to be dealt or forced onto the 26-man roster (MLB teams will hold 26 instead of 25 players in 2020).
The biggest trade A.J. Preller made last winter was trading Clayton Richard to the Blue Jays for minor leaguer Connor Panas. Multiple trades need to be on a much larger scale this offseason.
Secondly, the Padres won just 70 games in 2019. That was a four-game improvement from 2018. However, another marginal improvement in 2020 may cost Preller and others their jobs. 2020 needs to be a jump, not a mini-step. Padres owner Ron Fowler did not mince words during this week’s Social Summit, saying “heads will roll” if they do not contend in 2020. The lowest win total for a playoff team since the inception of the Wild Card Game is 85. That means if the Padres are to contend in 2020, it will require at least a 15-win jump.
It sounds like Ron Fowler is growing impatient and will be turning up the heat as the weather gets colder this winter, putting a lot of pressure on A.J. Preller to field a winner finally.
That will start with hiring the right manager. There are a lot of names out there, but only a few have what it takes to take this club to the next level. Making the right hire is crucial.
Also, the Padres have a few players they should move on from if they are to progress to the next level. Wil Myers’ contract will hamper this team moving forward as the yearly salary moves from $5 million this year to $20 million in 2020 while his production has gone the other direction, as he posted -0.4 WAR this past year. Fowler also hinted at the Social Summit that they would be trying to move on from Myers and will likely have to eat money to do so. Freeing themselves of the majority of his three years, $60 million remainings would be a huge boost in their ability to sign another big free agent.
All-Star starting pitchers Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Madison Bumgarner will all be on the market this winter, but will not come cheap. Being able to free up salary will increase San Diego’s odds at landing one of the big fish in the sea of free agency.
Lastly, this is the most important offseason in team history because the team has never been in this position before. They have the best farm system in baseball with legitimate superstars already on the MLB roster. The winter after the Padres went 91-71 and won the division in 1996, a lot was up in the air with Greg Vaughn’s contract being up, and the aging Fernando Valenzuela leaving town, leaving a hole in the rotation.
An argument can be made for the 1997-1998 offseason where the Padres still had a strong core but wanted to reshuffle the deck for ultimately what would be a pennant-winning 1998 season.
However, this organization has been beaten down for so long. Every other divisional opponent has at least reached the World Series, with the Giants and Diamondbacks winning it, since the last time the Padres went to their World Series in 1998. Each divisional rival has even made the playoffs since the last time the Padres went to the postseason. It’s downright embarrassing.
While the Padres have certainly entered other offseasons with more championship hopes than this one in their history, none are bigger than this winter will be. It’s time for the Padres to put their money, and prospect capital, where their mouths are and get other pieces to create a playoff-contending roster.
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.
Great article I absolutely agree with Tanned but the core IS starting to form. If the Astros can do it so can SD even if that means losing another 90-100 games next season. Say what you want about Luis Urias he will be a great 2B, but they do need to get rid of Myers ,Hosmer and sadly Renfroe. They need position players who can get on base I think we had the worst OBP in the league if not mistaken. I was not happy they traded Franmil Reyes thought he would become a consistent 30/100 player. If SD can pull Maddon or Girardi we are in business
A championship core forming? Where? They have 2 hitters with a wRC+ over 100 (the line between okay and sucks), Machado and Tatis. They have 2 hitters with a WAR score above 2.0 (the line between good and meh), again, Machado and Tatis. 2 out of 8 is not much of a core.
Renfroe hit .216, Margot hit .234, Hedges hit .176, Myers hit .239. These numbers suck.
Hosmer’s wRC+ was 91, his WAR value -0.4 (lowest score on the team). This player totally sucks.
As long as we’re giving 2500 at bats to this group of crap players this team is not going to the playoffs. And trading Wil Myers will not be a difference maker.
So what can be done?
1) Hire a manager with the stature to make the tough moves. That does not mean Barajas or Nevin, etc. And it does not mean overrated assholes like Scioscia. It means Joe Maddon or Joe Girardi. Pay one of them what it takes and let them make the tough decisions. Such as…
2)The chief problem continues to the be mess created by the Hosmer signing. He has a no trade clause, so salary dumping him is not an option. But his numbers against righties are actually tolerable, it’s his numbers against lefties that are a black hole. The answer is to PLATOON HIM. This will not be an easy decision to make, he’s making a ton of money and his agent is Scott Boras, so there will noise, but it has to be done. If it leverages Hosmer to waive his NTC, so much the better.
3) Face facts about Margot and Renfroe, they are not everyday players. Both rake against lefties, but suck against righties. If you cannot hit RHP, you are nothing more than a role player. Answer, platoon Margot and Jankowski in CF and trade Renfroe. Give those ABs to someone with a non-brutal OBP. Every year star players get traded. Get one. Stop overvaluing prospects, they are trade chips, cash them in.
4) Churn this roster. Too many so-what players. Trade them.
5) Stop trading good players for prospects.
Hosmer will accept a trade if one is made. The real problem would be getting someone to take him.
Renfroe is an everyday player and hits righties just fine.
their problem is both, but mostly pitching
they say that every year and every year the result is the same…last place
I will consider this off-season a success if we (1) Get rid of Myers and eat only half his contract; (2) hire an experienced manager of the Maddon/Showalter variety; and (3) acquire a veteran left-handed bat who can actually get on base, and get rid of some combination of Hedges/Renfroe/Margot.
I’m not as obsessed with getting a TOR pitcher. I think our major problem is lack of offense, not pitching. This was especially true during the final two months of the season.