In two straight offseasons, the Padres have acted out of character with the splashy free agent signings of Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado. Those same players took it upon themselves this Spring to back one of their own. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Hosmer and Machado met with Padres owner Ron Fowler over dinner, lobbying for the promotion of young star Fernando Tatis Jr. Fowler was apparently amenable to the idea as Tatis Jr., 20, made the Opening Day roster, as did top pitching prospect Chris Paddack, 23.
In what’s become more-or-less boilerplate around the league, teams have taken to holding presumably-ML-ready prospects in the upper minors for the first few weeks of the season, thereby gaining an extra year of team control. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the most obvious current example, while the White Sox finagled a workaround by signing Eloy Jimenez to an extension, prompting concerns over the use of this practice as negotiating leverage. The Padres decision to go against the grain was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise fiscally conservative marketplace.
After all, they aren’t considered favorites for postseason play. But there is a certain harmony to kicking off this era of Padres baseball with Machado and Tatis Jr. together on the left side of the infield, and after spending big on Hosmer and Machado, there’s an argument to be made that now is the time to maximize their odds of competing. The move costs the Padres the possibility of a seventh season of team control down the line, but there’s baseball being played today in San Diego, and it certainly make for a better show with Tatis Jr. in the lineup.
Through two games, Tatis Jr. has three hits in six at-bats while batting sixth in the order. Paddack, 23, is expected to make his debut on Sunday, getting the start at home against the Giants.