There were a lot of things that went wrong last season for the San Diego Padres. The starting rotation went down in shambles due to injuries, the lineup stopped hitting, and the manager lost the clubhouse. The good news, though, is A.J. Preller and Peter Seidler have already fixed the manager problem so we can check that off of the list.
As the Padres head into the offseason, there are a few areas that need fixing before the 2022 season if Bob Melvin wants to make the postseason in his first season as the team’s manager. Let’s rank them.
1. Trading Eric Hosmer’s contract
Usually when we discuss areas of need, it’s about acquiring talent, but in this situation, the number one need for the Padres is to rid the organization of their worst contract. Why? So that they can spend money to address their areas of need.
As of now, the Padres luxury tax payroll number stands at $213,269,047, according to Spotrac. That’s over $3 million north of the $210 million luxury tax threshold. Hosmer’s 2022 luxury tax salary ($18 million) makes up nearly 8.5% of the team’s luxury tax payroll, and is preventing the team from having room to make significant additions to the team without going way over the luxury tax threshold.
Dumping his contract, which will pay him nearly $60 million over the next four seasons, would certainly increase Preller’s chances of making significant moves to improve other areas of weakness on the roster. If the club can move some or all of Hosmer’s salary in a trade, they’d have two All-Stars—Jake Cronenworth and Adam Frazier—able to fill in on the right side of the infield.
The reason I don’t have Wil Myers’ contract as a necessity to get rid of is because he is technically in the final year of his $83 million contract, as 2023 is a club option. That means his contract won’t be affecting the team as much in the future and for as long as Hosmer’s deal would if no trade occurs.
2. Signing two power hitters (at least one needs to be a corner outfielder)
Last season the power production on the team suffered in the second half of the season. After hitting 110 homers and driving in 407 runs in the first half, they hit only 70 (a 40 HR decrease) and only 288 RBI (a 119 RBI decrease) in the second half.
Adam Frazier, the team’s headline trade deadline addition, has no power whatsoever, and Eric Hosmer hit just five home runs in the second half of the season. Left fielder Tommy Pham, who is now a free agent, also didn’t really help either, as he homered six times in the final 77 games of the season.
Therefore, the front office needs to find some power production in the offseason. It just gets difficult to add that power production when these players will be commanding a lot of money and in some cases, multi-year deals when there isn’t much room right now in their payroll.
One thing that could help the Padres with their power production in 2022 is the implementation of the universal designated hitter, which is expected to be put into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will have to be sorted out sometime after December 1 when the old CBA expires.
If that’s the case, then the options in free agency only increase. Some outfielders and designated hitters to keep an eye on as possible targets for the Padres are Kyle Schwarber, Nelson Cruz, Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, Andrew McCutchen, and Avisail Garcia, among others.
3. Relief help
The Padres bullpen was pretty impressive last season when you consider all of the innings they had to eat due to the rotation not being able to pitch the number of innings they were expected to pitch going into 2021. A lot of the props need to go to Craig Stammen and Nabil Crismatt for eating innings last year.
With that said, the bullpen still needs a little help—more like reinforcements if we’re being nice. Mark Melancon, who was an All-Star and finished with a league-leading 39 saves last season for San Diego, is a free agent and likely will be out of the Padres price range due to the likeliness of him receiving multi-year offers. Thus, they need to find a replacement.
Daniel Hudson was one of the big name relievers in the ‘pen post-deadline for the Friars but he is also a free agent and likely won’t be brought back.
Perhaps part of the Padres’ relief help will come from within, as Drew Pomeranz, Adrian Morejon, Matt Strahm, and Dinelson Lamet will hopefully be healthy at the start of next season. Still though, I don’t like the possibility of Emilio Pagan, who gave up seven home runs in the last month of 2021, having to close games next year.
Some low risk, high reward options that might make sense financially in the relief market for San Diego are Archie Bradley, Michael Lorenzen, Brad Boxberger, Andrew Miller, and Ian Kennedy (yes, that Ian Kennedy).
4. Upgrade the back of the rotation
The rotation wasn’t ever really impressive at the same time last season, which was really disappointing considering the high expectations set by many, including FanGraphs, going into 2021. Yu Darvish started out strong but had back problems. Blake Snell couldn’t find a groove most of the year and then when he did, he got hurt. Chris Paddack and Ryan Weathers went through injuries and also went through ups and downs. Adrian Morejon underwent Tommy John surgery early on. Oh, and MacKenzie Gore took steps back in the minors before taking some steps forward recently in the Arizona Fall League.
That said, it’s hard to imagine all of those injuries and inconsistency happen again for all of those guys. Add that to the fact that they have Joe Musgrove returning and Mike Clevinger is due to return and the Padres have to think they’re in a pretty decent spot rotation-wise. Thus I don’t see them going out and bringing in a big-name, high-price tag starter such as Marcus Stroman.
That said, it still doesn’t hurt to add some starters so that the Padres don’t have to go sign Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez off the street like this past season. Low cost, high reward arms, such as Rich Hill, Zach Davies, Drew Smyly, and Martin Perez, is the way I’d go.
Let me know what areas you think the team needs to address this winter!