Those wondering whether the Padres will make a big move or two this winter still don’t have an answer, but indications are that the club is at least exploring the possibility of just that. Per Jon Heyman of Fancred, via Twitter, the San Diego organization has “checked in” on four prominent free agents.
Most notably, the Friars are said to have at least reached out to both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the top two available free agents. San Diego GM A.J. Preller has also put in calls regarding utility man Marwin Gonzalez and third baseman Mike Moustakas, per the report.
Importantly, it’s far from clear whether the Padres are a serious pursuer of any of these high-profile names. Indeed, Heyman says it’s not even known if any have received offers. And it stands to reason that the club will tread carefully.
Still, it bears mentioning that the Pads are among the organizations hunting around in these markets. Though we’ve heard some chatter on all four players throughout the winter, it’s entirely unclear at this point where they’ll end up.
It’s worth noting, of course, that Machado and Harper are in a different stratosphere altogether from Gonzalez and Moustakas. Landing one of the former two would be a franchise-altering decision that would come with huge consequences — and, as Heyman notes, ramped-up expectations of a near-term competitive timeline. The latter two ballplayers are established, quality veterans who would no doubt improve the overall roster but not come with nearly the upside (or require nearly the same level of investment).
Having shocked the market by landing Eric Hosmer last year, and with a clear imperative to make some strides in the standings, the San Diego organization has to be considered at least a conceptually possible dark horse threat on these (if not also other) players. That’s true even if adding one of these players would require some corresponding trades, as the Padres’ mass of intriguing but not-yet-fully-established MLB talent has long seemed likely to be cleared out to some degree.