What are the Padres hoping to find under the Christmas tree?

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Credit: MiLB.com

Christmas is here, and the San Diego Padres still have a couple of items on their wish list heading into the 2024 season.

After missing the playoffs in 2023 despite high expectations, Monday’s holiday wishes are needed for a bounce back to the postseason.

Who’s on the coaching staff?

Baseball coaches are like socks; everybody needs them, but sometimes they can go underappreciated or get all the raves. Most coaches from the Bob Melvin-led Padres are gone, while Ruben Niebla is still on staff for year one with Mike Shildt. 

Outside of Niebla and Shildt, the Padres staff is largely undecided or to be announced. It is unusual for a staff to be largely unknown at this stage in the offseason, with free agents signing already. If this is not solved already, the Padres, president of baseball operations, needs to make it a priority.

Fill out the rotation

Nick Martinez, Seth Lugo, and Michael Wacha will all be pitching elsewhere in 2024 after providing nearly 400 innings in 2023. Simply put, the Padres must find arms before heading to Peoria for spring training. 

2023 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell remains a free agent, and there are arms that seem to be on the trade block who could bolster San Diego’s rotation. The question is, how much money or prospect capital do the Padres want to use for what might be their biggest gift under the tree.

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Fernando Tatis Jr. can’t be the only quality outfielder

Juan Soto and Trent Grisham are now New York Yankees, leaving only Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jose Azocar as outfielders who played more than five games in the bigs this season. Much like the pitching staff, additions must be made to roam the green at Petco Park.

Cody Bellinger is a big name still on the market, but his xwOBA marginally beats Grisham’s from 2023 and will demand a steep payday. Trading for an outfield bat may be the way to go. The Minnesota Twins are outfield-rich. Maybe they could be the ideal secret Santa for the Padres.

Keep Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts Healthy

Machado and Bogaerts will never use it as an excuse for their down years in 2023, but both campaigns were impacted by injuries. The two veterans played through the pain but put up subpar numbers compared to their high standards, which warranted the two getting 11-year contracts in the offseason. You may not want a gift that helps you combat the pain, like a brace or a massage tool, but you may need it.

Continue to push young talent

September was the most successful month of the season for the Padres in 2023. Young players stepped up when Machado, Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim, and Gary Sanchez went down with injuries. Matthew Batten, Eguy Rosario, Luis Campusano, Matt Waldron, Pedro Avila thrived with consistent playing time and proved they belonged in the major leagues. This must continue in 2024 if the Padres want to win, and it will help the club save money.

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