The Padres lastly put themselves again on the map in 2020. Emboldened by final yr’s success, president of baseball operations A.J. Preller spent the winter making an attempt to assemble a championship-caliber roster. Preller had loads of cash to play with, evidenced by the Padres’ franchise-record $174MM Opening Day payroll.
Main League Signings
- Ha-Seong Kim, INF: 4 years, $28MM (mutual possibility for 2025)
- Jurickson Profar, INF/OF: Three years, $21MM
- Mark Melancon, RHP: One yr, $3MM ($5MM mutual possibility or $1MM buyout for 2022)
- Keone Kela, RHP: One yr, $1.2MM
- Brian O’Grady, INF/OF: One yr, $650K (cut up contract)
- Complete spend: $54.05MM
Trades And Claims
Notable Minor League Signings
At 37-23, the Padres completed with the majors’ third-best file final season, however that also left them six video games behind the Dodgers – their NL West rival and the reigning World Sequence champions. With that in thoughts, Preller and his entrance workplace cohorts used the previous few months seemingly leaving no stone unturned in an effort to overthrow the Dodgers, who’ve dominated the division for eight consecutive seasons. The Padres confirmed curiosity in quite a lot of family names each in free company and trades, and so they have been profitable in reeling in a number of massive fish.
The at all times aggressive Preller’s major headline-grabbing acquisitions addressed the Padres’ rotation, which was terrific final yr. Nevertheless, the Padres noticed a few their prime starters – Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger – go down with accidents late within the season, whereas Garrett Richards then exited in free company. Lamet hasn’t but returned from the elbow points that ended his season in September, although he doesn’t appear far-off from his 2021 debut. However, the Padres discovered in November that Clevinger, who was a blockbuster in-season pickup, required Tommy John surgical procedure. He’s not going to pitch in any respect within the present marketing campaign, however that didn’t cease the Padres from signing Clevinger to a two-year, back-loaded cope with the hope that he’ll consider come 2022.
Within the wake of the Clevinger information, the Padres went to work in a serious means. They confirmed curiosity starting from delicate to severe in free brokers corresponding to Trevor Bauer, Masahiro Tanaka, Tomoyuki Sugano, Adam Wainwright, Kohei Arihara and Martin Perez. Commerce targets included Sonny Gray and Lance Lynn, although the Padres as a substitute landed three different high-profile starters through that route.
The primary domino to fall for San Diego was the acquisition of former AL Cy Younger winner Blake Snell from the Rays. Snell has three years and $39MM of management left, in order you’d count on, the Rays didn’t give him away for affordable. Slightly, the package deal headed to Tampa Bay centered on 21-year-old righty Luis Patino, who ranks among the many premier prospects within the sport. The Padres additionally needed to give up two different high quality prospects – righty Cole Wilcox and catcher/first baseman Blake Hunt – in addition to a once-heralded farmhand in Francisco Mejia. Acquired from the Indians within the groups’ Brad Hand commerce in 2018, Mejia was by no means in a position to set up himself with the Padres at catcher, nor did his offense come near matching the hype.
The Snell swap wasn’t the one late-December current for the Padres or their followers. Shortly after swinging the commerce with Tampa Bay, Preller & Co. pried 2020 NL Cy Younger finalist Yu Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini from the Cubs. It didn’t price the Padres practically as a lot this time, partially as a result of they ate all however $3MM on the $62MM Darvish is owed over the following three years. The Padres did have to surrender one among their greatest 2020 starters, Zach Davies, however he’ll be a free agent subsequent offseason. Plus, it’s exhausting to not view Darvish as a transparent improve over Davies. Together with Davies, San Diego parted with 4 prospects – shortstops Reginald Preciado and Yeison Santana and outfielders Owen Caissie and Ismael Mena – however all of these gamers are not less than a number of years from the majors. That’s in the event that they make it in any respect.
The addition of Caratini got here as welcome information for Darvish, as the previous is his private catcher. Caratini performed second fiddle to Willson Contreras in Chicago, however he has sometimes blended satisfactory offense for his place with well-graded protection. As soon as Austin Nola returns from a fractured finger, he and Caratini ought to give the Padres a stable one-two behind the plate with Luis Campusano additionally within the combine.
Nobody would have blamed the Padres had they stopped at Snell and Darvish, however they determined there was extra to perform. Only a few weeks after scooping up these two, the Padres executed one more eyebrow-raising commerce, this time hauling in righty Joe Musgrove from the Pirates. Whereas Musgrove doesn’t carry a Snell- or Darvish-like observe file, he did give the Pirates helpful mid-rotation manufacturing for a number of seasons. Now again in his native San Diego, Musgrove has thrived, having already thrown the primary no-hitter in franchise historical past. He has additionally yielded only one earned run in his first 19 innings in a Padres uniform.
To select up Musgrove’s two inexpensive remaining years of staff management, the Padres once more despatched away a bunch of non-elite prospects (Hudson Head, Drake Fellows, David Bednar and Omar Cruz). The one main leaguer they stated goodbye to was Joey Lucchesi, whom the Mets acquired within the three-team deal. Like going from Davies to Darvish, Musgrove provides the Padres an apparent enchancment over Lucchesi.
All stated, the Padres acquired two front-line starters and one other who could also be turning into one whereas transferring solely a single star prospect (Patino). So, even despite dumping double-digit prospects in these offers, the Padres’ farm system remains to be fairly loaded. The truth is, according to MLB.com, it’s the sport’s sixth-best system – one that also boasts 4 top-100 gamers in lefty MacKenzie Gore (No. 6), shortstop CJ Abrams (No. 8), Campusano (No. 45) and outfielder Robert Hassell III (No. 62).
Together with discovering outdoors beginning pitching, caring for key inside enterprise was among the many major objects on the Padres’ offseason guidelines. They and the face of their franchise, 22-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., made it clear getting into the winter that they needed to hammer out a contract extension. Tatis wasn’t on observe to achieve arbitration till after 2022 or change into a free agent till the top of the 2024 season, however the Padres weren’t going take an opportunity on shedding him in his mid-20s. As a substitute, in late February, they succeeded in locking up Tatis into his mid-30s.
The settlement with Tatis is historic – a 14-year, $340MM pact that shattered Mike Trout’s earlier file assure of $144MM for a pre-arb participant. It’s additionally the second $300MM-plus contract the Padres have doled out over the previous couple years, as they beforehand signed third baseman Manny Machado to a decade-long deal in free company. The membership now has the left facet of its infield below wraps with two superstar-caliber gamers for the foreseeable future.
The rotation enhancements and the Tatis extension represented the offseason heavy lifting for the Padres, however they have been lively in different areas. Most notably, they signed former Korea Baseball Group standout Ha-Seong Kim to a four-year, $28MM assure with a $5.5MM posting payment paid to the Kiwoom Heroes. Kim isn’t an improve over Tatis, Machado or second baseman Jake Cronenworth, however the staff felt it was a worthwhile threat to spend on a flexible 25-year-old whom many regard as a top-1o0 prospect.
The Kim signing wasn’t the final of the Padres’ depth-bolstering strikes in free company. A couple of weeks after they received the Kim sweepstakes, the Padres re-upped Jurickson Profar on a three-year, $21MM assure. The contract features a pair of opt-outs, so if Profar performs nicely sufficient this yr or subsequent, he may elect to return to free company. For not less than one other yr, although, he’ll proceed to provide the Padres somebody who can play a number of positions and provide league-average or barely higher offense at an inexpensive annual price. Profar’s fourth on the Padres in plate appearances this yr, and he has already lined up at 4 spots (first, second and each nook outfield positions).
The bullpen was additionally a matter of some offseason significance for the Padres, who confronted the losses of relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Kirby Yates in free company. San Diego confirmed curiosity in bringing each again, however they departed for larger paydays elsewhere. The Padres appear to have dodged bullets in each circumstances, as Rosenthal underwent thoracic outlet surgical procedure earlier this month and Yates had a Tommy John process in March.
Rosenthal and Yates signed for a mixed $16.5MM in ensures, however the Padres spent far much less on their reduction corps, inking Mark Melancon and Keone Kela for a complete of $4.2MM. It’s early, however the at all times regular Melancon has been a discount for the Padres to date. He’s 5-for-5 in save alternatives and hasn’t allowed a stroll or a run in six innings of one-hit ball. Likewise, Kela has been flawless within the runs allowed division, having surrendered none in 5 2/3 frames. The hard-throwing Kela had a formidable three-year stretch of run prevention and strikeouts with the Rangers and Pirates from 2017-19, however a optimistic COVID-19 check and forearm troubles held him to 2 innings final season. If wholesome, although, he additionally has an opportunity to finish up as a steal for San Diego. To date, so good.
Though it’s solely mid-April, the Padres look as in the event that they’re going to be a power once more this yr, thanks in no small half to Preller’s offseason strikes. So impressed together with his work, Padres possession determined in February to improve Preller’s title from basic supervisor to president of baseball ops and extend him by means of 2026. It seems the Padres are in succesful palms with Preller on the helm, however how would you grade their offseason?
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