The 45-31 Padres possess baseball’s fifth-best profitable proportion (.592) and fifth-best run differential (+63). They’ve achieved this success regardless of receiving middle-of-the-pack manufacturing from first base and designated hitter along with nicely below-average offensive manufacturing from heart discipline and proper discipline. The Friars have additionally performed your complete season up to now with out star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (though Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that Tatis might start hitting off a tee inside the subsequent two weeks and embark on a rehab project a pair weeks after that).
Given their success so far, the clear win-now path of their latest slate of transactions and the commonly aggressive mindset of baseball operations president A.J. Preller, one would count on the Padres to be out there for upgrades because the Aug. 2 commerce deadline approaches. They had been reportedly looking for nook outfield upgrades even earlier than the season began, and this 12 months’s tough displaying from heart fielder Trent Grisham (.188/.287/.321 by 281 plate appearances) creates even additional uncertainty within the outfield.
The issue for the Padres, as has been nicely documented up to now, is that their backs are up towards a luxury-tax barrier that possession appears unwilling to surpass for what could be a second consecutive season. Roster Useful resource’s Jason Martinez estimates San Diego’s present slate of luxurious tax obligations to be $229.4MM — simply $600K shy of this 12 months’s newly elevated $230MM threshold. Brokers I’ve spoken to who talked with the Padres late within the offseason stated the staff certainly steered there was no actual room so as to add to the Main League payroll, given their proximity to the tax line.
All of that meshes with stories that we’ve seen for greater than a 12 months now: that the Padres would like to shed the contracts of Wil Myers and/or Eric Hosmer and have explored attaching prospects of notice in an effort to just do that. These efforts, nonetheless, have come up empty — and it appears unlikely that the Padres would have any extra success now. Myers has been on the injured listing since Could 31 as a consequence of a knee damage and was hitting simply .234/.276/.306 in 134 plate appearances earlier than being shelved. He’s owed the rest of a $20MM wage this 12 months plus a $1MM buyout on a 2023 choice. Hosmer got here out of the gates on fireplace however has faceplanted with a .238/.294/.330 slash in 201 plate appearances since Could 1. He’s being paid $20MM this season and is owed $39MM whole from 2023-25.
Each deadline season is completely different, and maybe the Padres will lastly beat the percentages and handle to unload a type of cumbersome contracts, however with neither participant doing a lot to enhance his inventory, that feels unlikely. If the Padres can’t handle to discover a taker for both Myers or Hosmer however nonetheless want to enhance on the deadline, it stands to cause that they’ll must discover different artistic situations.
The best state of affairs for the Friars, regardless of the way during which their pitching depth evaporated late within the 2021 season, could be to deal from their Main League rotation — both so as to purchase an outfielder of notice or so as to clear the requisite payroll to take action in a separate commerce. The Padres have an enviable beginning workers of Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Sean Manaea, Mike Clevinger, Blake Snell and breakout rookie MacKenzie Gore. The workers is deep sufficient that righty Nick Martinez, who signed an opt-out-laden four-year deal in free company this winter, has been understanding of the bullpen at occasions in latest weeks.
It’s true that the Padres’ upper-level depth within the minors isn’t precisely at a excessive level. Adrian Martinez was traded to the A’s within the Manaea deal. Ryan Weathers and Reiss Knehr have pitched poorly in Triple-A. There’s threat in dealing from the massive league workers, as a couple of accidents (and/or workload fatigue from Gore) might radically alter the image. That stated, a commerce involving somebody from the present workers might additionally web some lower-end pitching depth to assist function insurance coverage upon which to lean within the occasion of additional accidents. It additionally shouldn’t be dominated out that the Padres might deal from the present rotation and reallocate a few of that area to yet one more newly acquired veteran arm; they’ve already been linked to Reds ace Luis Castillo, for example.
Dennis Lin of The Athletic wrote in his newest mailbag that of the staff’s present starters, Snell is the probably choice in the event that they’re to make a commerce. That makes good sense, as he carries a $10MM luxurious hit for the Padres and has underperformed this season after lacking vital time with an adductor pressure to start the 12 months. Snell has at occasions appeared fairly sturdy this season, and fielding-independent pitching metrics really feel he’s been higher than his 5.60 ERA. Nonetheless, Snell has walked 12.2% of his opponents and recurrently run up lofty pitch counts early in video games, resulting in a median of simply 5 innings per outing.
Regardless of the struggles, Snell isn’t far faraway from a much more promising stretch of video games. Final 12 months’s 4.20 ERA in 27 begins appears underwhelming, however he posted a 3.24 ERA with a 33.3% strikeout charge and 10.8% stroll charge following final 12 months’s All-Star break –a stretch that was capped off with 44 1/3 frames of 1.83 ERA ball. Snell accomplished seven innings and logged double-digit strikeout totals 4 occasions in that span, wanting each bit like the previous Cy Younger winner he’s. Snell is incomes $12.5MM this season and has a $16MM wage for the 2023 season, and one other membership would possibly really feel it’s value taking the monetary threat to purchase low on such a gifted arm. Lin writes that the Padres have been “pissed off” by Snell’s lack of efficiency.
Different members of the rotation would even be tougher to maneuver. There’s no likelihood the Padres would transfer Musgrove amid a possible Cy Younger marketing campaign. Darvish has been their second-best starter, making him robust to exchange, and he’s additionally the costliest of the bunch, making him more durable for different groups to tackle. Clevinger’s $5.75MM luxurious quantity doesn’t give the Padres as a lot monetary leeway as Snell would, and he’s pitched even much less this season than Snell (albeit additionally extra successfully). Manaea has been stable and would certainly draw curiosity, however the staff most likely doesn’t need to take away an as-advertised mid-rotation arm that was solely acquired a pair months in the past — even when he’s a free agent this winter. Martinez’s decide outs make him an unappealing commerce candidate. Snell strikes the stability of observe document, upside and in addition present expendability that might make a staff chew, even when it’d be promoting low for the Padres.
The place else might the Friars look to get artistic, although? Righty Dinelson Lamet is at the moment pitching out of the bullpen in Triple-Some time incomes a $4.775MM wage. He was clobbered for 10 runs in 8 1/3 massive league innings earlier this 12 months and hasn’t been the identical since getting back from Tommy John surgical procedure, however he’s an enormous arm who might probably enchantment to a different membership keen to tackle some cash. Nobody ought to count on him to copy his otherworldly 2.09 ERA, 34.8% strikeout charge and seven.5% stroll charge from the shortened 2020 season, however these numbers are illustrative of the expertise Lamet possesses. Might they discover a taker for an injured Drew Pomeranz, who’s within the third season of a four-year, $34MM contract? Once more, it’d be promoting low on an immensely gifted arm.
Wanting up and down the roster, the Padres could not love the concept of parting with Ha-Seong Kim, who has grow to be a helpful bench piece due to standout protection at three positions and a satisfactory, if unexciting, .226/.311/.345 batting line (91 wRC+). However the former KBO celebrity hasn’t but lived as much as expectations since signing a four-year, $28MM contract in free company, and the related $7MM luxurious hit that comes with that deal is extra vital for the Padres now than it was on the time of his signing. As soon as Tatis returns, Kim will probably see his enjoying time diminished significantly.
Nonetheless it performs out, the Padres have a troublesome highway forward because the commerce deadline approaches. They’ll both have to persuade commerce companions to pay the wage of any upgrades they purchase (thus rising the prospect price to make these offers), lastly achieve dumping an onerous contract, or promote low on some dear however worthwhile depth in a way that might come again to hang-out them. The options are to easily stand pat, hoping that the return of Tatis and a few enhancements from the likes of Snell, Myers and Hosmer shall be adequate upgrades — or to chew the bullet and cross over into luxurious territory.