The Padres have been extremely aggressive in recent years, taking their payroll to levels it’s never reached before. It finally paid off in 2022, as the club made the playoffs in a full season for the first time since 2006. They doubled down on that aggression this winter, signing multiple free agents and locking up a couple of players with notable extensions.
Major League Signings
- SS Xander Bogaerts: eleven years, $280MM
- RHP Robert Suarez: five years, $46MM, Suarez can opt out after 2025
- RHP Nick Martinez: three years, $26MM (Padres have two-year, $32MM option after season; if declined, Martinez has a two-year, $16MM player option)
- RHP Michael Wacha: four years, $26MM (Padres have two-year, $32MM option after season; if declined, Wacha has a $6.5MM player option for 2024 and $6MM player options in 2025-26)
- RHP Seth Lugo: two years, $15MM, Lugo can opt out after 2023
- IF/OF Matt Carpenter: two years, $12MM, Carpenter can opt out after 2023
- DH Nelson Cruz: one year, $1MM
- OF Adam Engel: one year, $1MM
- RHP Brent Honeywell Jr.: one year split deal, $725K in majors, $200K in minors
2022 spending: $68.7MM
Total spending: $407.2MM
- RHP Robert Suarez opted out of one year and $5MM remaining on contract for $1MM buyout, later re-signed
- OF Jurickson Profar opted out of one year and $7.5MM remaining on contract for $1MM buyout
- Club declined $20MM option on OF Wil Myers in favor of $1MM buyout
- RHP Nick Martinez opted out of three years and $18MM remaining on contract for $1.5MM buyout, later re-signed
Trades And Claims
- Claimed RHP Sean Poppen from Diamondbacks, later outrighted off 40-man roster
- Selected LHP Jose Lopez from Rays in Rule 5 draft
- 3B Manny Machado: five years, $170MM (on top of preexisting six years, $180MM)
- RHP Yu Darvish: five years, $90MM
Notable Minor League Signings
- David Dahl, Preston Tucker, Drew Carlton, Aaron Brooks, Eric Hanhold, Anderson Espinoza, Pedro Severino, Tim Lopes, Max Schrock, Domingo Tapia, Wilmer Font, Craig Stammen, Alfonso Rivas, Ángel Sánchez, Julio Teheran, Rangel Ravelo, Cole Hamels, Rougned Odor
- Sean Manaea, Mike Clevinger, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, Pierce Johnson, Jurickson Profar (still a free agent), Wil Myers, Jorge Alfaro
Going into the 2018 season, the Padres decided it was time for change. It had been over a decade since their last trip to the postseason and they had never been huge players in free agency. They started to flip that narrative by signing first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144MM contract. That deal didn’t end up going well, but it nonetheless sent the message that the club meant business. That was followed up with the club signing Manny Machado and extending Fernando Tatis Jr., as well as trading for players like Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell.
Despite all those bold moves, the club still found ways to struggle. Though they qualified for the postseason in the expanded field of the shortened 2020 campaign, they finished below .500 in each 162-game season from 2011 to 2021. Things finally clicked in 2022, with the Padres stealing all the headlines at the trade deadline by acquiring Juan Soto, Josh Hader and Brandon Drury. It resulted in the club finishing 89-73 and grabbing a Wild Card spot. They knocked off heavyweight teams like the Mets and the Dodgers before ultimately falling to the Phillies in the NLCS.
Though they finally broke through and had the success that long eluded them, the club quickly made it clear that they had little interest in taking their foot off the gas as they continue their pursuit of a World Series title. The first order of business was retaining a few in-house players. Robert Suarez and Nick Martinez each opted out of their respective contracts to become free agents. Within a few days, they were already back in the fold on eight-figure guarantees. Suarez was excellent in 2022, but it was his first in the majors at the age of 31 after many years in Japan. It was a somewhat similar situation for Martinez, who was also 31 and had been in Japan for three years following a rough MLB stint from 2014-17. The fact that the club made such large guarantees to relatively unproven pitchers signaled that they would have few financial obstacles in their path this winter.
From there, the Friars set their sights on a big splash. They reportedly offered both Trea Turner and Aaron Judge larger guarantees than they eventually accepted from the Phillies and Yankees, respectively. That’s not to say that either player turned up their nose at a chance of joining the Padres, as Turner seemingly preferred to be on the East Coast while Judge preferred to remain a Yankee for life.
After missing on two big swings, the club finally connected on the star signing they sought with Xander Bogaerts. The deal shattered most predictions, including ours. MLBTR pegged Bogaerts for a seven-year, $189MM deal, but he ended up soaring past that both in terms of the years and the guarantee. It was also surprising to see the Padres pursue a shortstop, as that didn’t seem to be their primary need. Ha-Seong Kim had a fine season replacing Fernando Tatis Jr., who missed all of 2022 due to injuries and an 80-game PED suspension. Tatis still has 20 games left on that but should be back in action early in 2023. The fact that the club initially set its sights on Judge perhaps indicates there was a chance Tatis could stick at short, but the acquisition of Bogaerts also showed they weren’t committed to letting him retake his spot there.
With Bogaerts now set to take over at the club’s everyday shortstop, Kim will get pushed over to second, nudging Jake Cronenworth to first. That will leave Tatis in the outfield, alongside Soto and Trent Grisham. That reduced the need for a big splash in the outfield, but the club did bolster their options on the grass by signing Matt Carpenter and Adam Engel. The latter is a glove-first option that was non-tendered by the White Sox and should make for a solid fourth outfielder. The former was awful from 2019 to 2021 but rebounded tremendously last year. He re-emerged with the Yankees and was one of the best hitters on the planet for a stretch before a foot fracture slowed him down. He finished the year with 15 home runs in just 47 games and a batting line of .305/.412/.727, wRC+ of 217. He played the four corner positions last year and could do so again, though the eventual return of Tatis should diminish the need for him to take any outfield reps.
All of this shuffling is necessary to get Bogaerts into the shortstop position and, more importantly, his bat into the lineup. Over the past five seasons, Bogaerts has hit 105 home runs and slashed .300/.373/.507 for a wRC+ of 134. That latter number places him in the top 20 among all qualified hitters in the league. He’s been remarkably consistent, keeping that figure between 129 and 141 in each of those five campaigns. His defense has been a little less consistent, but he did get positive grades from all three of Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating and Outs Above Average last year. The Padres made a significant investment to get a deal done, but there’s every reason to expect they got a premier player for it.
With Bogaerts in hand, the next stage of the offseason continued to be busy, though at a lesser tier of free agency. Though they had retained Martinez, the rotation was still in need of bolstering with the departures of Sean Manaea and Mike Clevinger. Offseason rumors suggested that clubs were interested in Seth Lugo as a starter, despite the fact that he’s been pitching out of the Mets’ bullpen for the past few years. The Padres decided to be the team to give Lugo that shot, signing him in mid-December. Lugo has been a fine reliever but is generally pretty unproven in the rotation. The last time he made more than seven starts in a season was back in 2017.
After that Lugo deal, the Padres had a front-loaded rotation. It was headlined by three great hurlers in Musgrove, Darvish and Snell, but they were followed by two unestablished starters in Lugo and Martinez. They decided to add some security as the offseason went along, eventually adding Michael Wacha, who posted a solid 3.32 ERA last year. He’s no sure thing either, as recurring shoulder issues have prevented him from tossing 130 innings in a season since 2017. But the Friars also added a few strands to the safety net by bringing in Brent Honeywell Jr., Wilmer Font, Cole Hamels and Julio Teheran. Those extra options will likely be important all season long, even in the beginning, as Musgrove recently fractured a toe and seems likely to miss a couple of starts.
The lineup was also in a good place, with Bogaerts joining Soto and Machado as the key threats. The Padres would go on to add some complementary pieces in Carpenter, Engel and then Nelson Cruz. It’s been a rough stretch for Cruz lately, as he struggled with the Rays at the end of 2021 and then hit just .234/.313/.337 for the Nats last year. Given that he’s now 42 years old, it would be fair to wonder if his age was finally catching up with him. However, Cruz underwent eye surgery in the offseason, telling reporters that some inflammation has been blocking his vision over the past year and a half. Perhaps he can bounce back, perhaps not, but the Padres only put down $1MM to find out. If the gamble pays off, it will add yet another potent bat into the mix.
With the calendar showing February and the roster looking fairly set, the focus shifted to long-term concerns. The rotation had some uncertainty over the horizon, as both Darvish and Snell were slated for free agency after 2023. Lugo, Wacha and Martinez also aren’t guaranteed to be back next season, as all three of them either have options or opt-outs that could potentially result in them returning to free agency. That left Musgrove as the only starter locked in for 2024, so the Padres decided to get a bit more clarity by extending Darvish. The deal was surprising in that it came out of nowhere, but also in its length. Darvish is already 36 and his new deal will run past his 42nd birthday. It seems likely that this is a tactic to reduce the club’s competitive balance tax calculation.
We’ll circle back to that CBT conversation in a moment, but the Padres weren’t done with the extensions just yet. Manny Machado still had six years remaining on his ten-year deal, but he had an opt-out opportunity coming up at the end of 2023. Given that he had an MVP-caliber season last year and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement had seemingly improved the free agent market for players, Machado would have been justified in heading back to the open market. He was quite open about his intent to do, but the Padres decided they didn’t want to see that happen and locked him in with a new 11-year, $350MM deal. Since Machado already had six years and $180MM in hand, this tacked on five years and $170MM to prevent him from departing.
This new era of aggressive spending for the Padres has resulted in the club paying the luxury tax in each of the past two years. Their continued spending this year will result in them paying for a third straight season and that will come with elevated tax rates. A third-time payor faces a 50% tax for any spending over the lowest threshold, which is $233MM this year. That jumps to 62% over the $253MM tier and 95% over the $273MM tier. It was reported about a month ago that the Padres were narrowly below that third tier, but that was before the Machado extension came down. His new deal bumped his AAV from $30MM to $31.81MM, perhaps nudging them over that line. If they can manage to get back under the $273MM figure, they’ll avoid the unwelcome penalty of having their top pick in the 2024 draft pushed back 10 spots.
Regardless of which side of that threshold the Padres ultimately fall, it seems the lengthy deals are an attempt to at least moderately mitigate their CBT hits, for this year and the future. As mentioned, the Darvish extension will run past his 42nd birthday, while Bogaerts and Machado will each turn 41 in the final seasons of their respective deals. The annual values on the Bogaerts and Darvish deals, in particular, are lower than the per-year market rate for players of this caliber. Time will tell whether subsequent extensions might follow; the team is reportedly interested in extending both Soto and Hader.
Ultimately, these are all footnotes to the larger story of owner Peter Seidler deciding that he didn’t want the Padres to be a small-market team anymore. The Friars are currently third in the league in terms of both pure payroll and CBT, with only the two New York clubs ahead of them. It’s already resulted in one trip to the NLCS, and the hope is for even more to come. When asked if his spending was sustainable, Seidler told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, he preferred a different question. “Do I believe our parade is going to be on land or on water or on boat?”
How would you grade the Padres’ offseason? (Link to poll)
In conjunction with the Padres’ offseason review, we hosted a Padres-focused chat on March 21. You can click here to read the transcript.
I feel like a lot of the positive hype for the Padres’ offseason is sort of wrong-headed… “the most moves” doesn’t necessarily mean “the best moves.” No doubt that lineup’s going to be nasty for the next two to three years, but as a Red Sox fan I can guarantee you that Bogaerts contract is going to age really badly really fast.
With the Dodgers remaining mostly stagnant, the Padres made the appropriate moves for their win-now window. I think they’ll worry about Bogey’s decline years later. Flags fly forever and Bogey will be a big part of that if the Padres win it all over the next few seasons.
I like the names, hate the contracts.
The Padres set themselves up nicely for next year but every player they signed seems like an overpay in years and a lot will get old together.
To me, this off-season signings, not just by the Padres, were reminiscent of the steroid era signings. Signing guys well into their late 30s/40s to get AAVs down.
The one thing I really have a negative on with the Padres is Preller depleted their once stellar farm system AND spent a ton of money. The Mets on the flip side have kept their farm system in place for the most part while spending a ton of money with the mindset that the young talent will offset some of those expensive contracts as players get older and less productive. The Mets also play in a larger market and should be a team that can hold that payroll longer than the Padres.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Padres for spending in hopes of a World Series title but their window is going to be very narrow (imo) because they depleted their farm and they have spent on so many long term contracts.
The padres farm is already on the way back to being very good. Give it another year or two and you will see what I mean.
Farm system rankings have to be taken with a grain of salt but even a blind man can see the Padres system has been completely decimated and they traded away all their controllable, affordable young talent. The international market will only rebuild so much so unless they plan on trading someone like Soto then they have a significant uphill climb.
All farms have talent us fans believe are better than they are but they lack, the Padres, lack high end talent and guys expected to be regulars.
F. Paid for Bogaerts Fenway stats. Gave Machado a extra 170 because they gave him a opt out. Still giving opt outs. Not all bad though. Darvish wasn’t awful. Musgrove was a bargain.
AJ is exciting though. Love all the action. Not only did he build the Padres but the Guardians Mariners Pirates as well. Many of his trades worked out. Musgrove with that extension is a fine trade. Snell and Darvish are looking good. Way too soon to call but Soto could work out. Clevinger Nola are a disaster.
Fernando Ringworm Jr.
Snell is also too soon to call. He needs to pitch well over a full season in SD. And keep your eyes on Luis Patiño and Cole Wilcox.
They can still do something. But didn’t get quick results and SD really needed Snell or similar. I’d rather have Rodriguez Bednar but again they really needed Musgrove. They wanted instant contention and did what needed to be done.
Bogaerts is not a power hitter and only had 15 HRs last season. He hit .297 on the road and will b batting leadoff for Padres. So no he was not paid for his Fenway stats. And had they gave the opt outs the players might not have signed or could have sought shorter deals. You are making assumptions based off absolute guesswork.
Bogaerts will hit cleanup most games for the Padres based on Melvin’s comments this weekend.
There is no way Bogaerts will b batting cleanup in that lineup. They do not spend that much on their roster to make such an absurd move.
250+ million payroll for 2023. No pressure.
Solid 94 win team
As a lifelong fan who has endured more than enough suffering… I am ecstatic at the current trajectory of the squad. I kept the faith, and Saint Seidler has rewarded the city. LFGSD
The Padres have four legitimate MVP candidates this year and next, with three of them locked up for a decade (Machado, Tatis, and Bogaerts). They have solid role players in Cronenworth, Grisham, and Kim, a top-five bullpen, and a solid starting staff.
And they have top minor league talent (Merril, Salas, Lesko, Zavala) who will join the team in a few years and balance out the payroll.
What’s not to like?
And 20 people still voted “F” lol
It’s not really a vote based on the quality of the moves. If the money is finite, then imo, Preller gets a C- at best. If the money is unlimited, then Preller gets an N/A since anyone of us could’ve made the same deals.
If Preller was to get an A for this, then Cashman, Eppler and Dombrowski all get an A+.
Cashman did next to nothing after re-signing Judge and Rizzo. Then he signed an injury prone pitcher. A+??? Get real.
You’d think differently if Bloom had made these moves. Afteer all, you’ve never criticized big spending by the RS in the past. I think it’s admirable for a small market team. A.
You’d think differently if Bloom had made these moves.
Not at all. I liked the Story signing, but never said it was a brilliant move, because anyone could’ve signed him. Same with Yoshida. Give me a pen and paper, and I could’ve done the identical thing.
Is Eppler a genius for offering Scherzer & Verlander $43M/year? Was Cashman a genius for signing Judge for $360M? I’m pretty sure I could put my signature to those contracts just as easily as they could.
Again, there is seldom any magic to signing high-priced FAs.
Cashman did next to nothing after re-signing Judge and Rizzo.
What I am saying is that, if Preller gets an A for giving Bogaerts $280M/11, than Cashman gets an A+ for giving Judge $360M/9. I’d gladly wager that Judge has a higher WAR/$$$ than Bogaerts does over that period.
But the main point continues to be that a GM does not get credit for simply offering a player more money than anyone else.
Ah, but there IS magic to signing the RIGHT high-priced free agents.
It’s an inevitability that some people will vote unfairly. Just like when people vote F because a rebuilding didn’t go out and make a bunch of win-now moves. 2.14% of voters going with F is actually not that far out of the ordinary.
And some will vote F simply because they hate the team.
Besides the awful trades and awful contracts I like everything. Love SD. Exciting front office, crowds, announcers. Musgrove is just awesome. Gave their moves a F still. Don’t think Bogaerts will sniff a mvp. Even if he does I don’t love the contract. Hope I am wrong.
And that’s fine, as everybody is entitled to vote however they wish… but “F”? I can’t fathom how they came to such an outrageous conclusion. If they are fans of other teams, which is my general suspicion, then I’d have to imagine they’d be ecstatic at these offseason transactions for their own squad. Whatever floats their boat, it has no bearing on reality.
@JoeBrady whoopsiedaisy, I guess I didn’t hit ‘Reply’ lol
Yea, if you voted F…I’ve got an F U for you!
Hired Gun 23
Let March 30th be the beginning of what should be a great season. Til then, grades and opinions be damned…
Why do batting averages go to die in SD? You would think they would move the fences in especially with the new dead ball…..
Marine layer bro…it’s a real thing!
Didn’t Manny Machado finish with the #13 Batting Average in MLB last year?
Very, very, very excited for this season. AND, we’ve got Don and Mud in the broadcast booth.
Very excited for this season. It will all come down to our pitching.
When does Snell get his extension
Why pay Snell the 20 million per year when urias, Nola,ohtani are free agents next season.
Why not? Get Snell and 1, 2, or all 3 of the other guys.
Preller is on an all-in win now mode. Good chance some of these contracts go very bad but if they obviously don’t care about that then they need to start winning a WS very soon.
Having the best team doesn’t always mean you’re going to win the WS. But all you can do is position your team for those deep runs.
I gave them a “B” grade. It’s an “A” if you only care about short-term. “C” for the long-term so it averages to a “B” all in.
One of the deepest Padre teams I can remember
I graded the off season as a D. San Diego spent a ton of money and I think they made some good choices in a vacuum, but evaluated together, I don’t think the choices will age well at all.
I think they did ok. I gave them a “ B” because I would have liked to see them acquire a solid top or middle of the rotation pitcher since we’re probably going to lose Blake Snell next year to free agency. But those guys don’t grow on trees, and prying one from another team would be expensive.
All that a GM can do is build the best team he can on paper and hope for the best. Twenty nine other teams are also trying to get a World Series trophy, although realistically only about ten teams have a shot. Injuries happen, players don’t live up to expectations, the team gets into a funk, and so on. AJ Preller has done a great job of putting it all together on paper. Now let’s see what happens when we start playing some games.
Motor City Beach Bum
I still see their SP depth as suspect in the regular season but they’ll be scary in a playoff series.
Puds are going all in to win a WS. They have about a 3-4 year window and then the players will start to decline and those contracts will be restrictive to what they can do.
Does anyone have any idea what happened to Wilmer Font? I can find zero news on him. Hasn’t played in Spring Training at all.
Just don’t think much of Juan Soto.