The Padres are having a disappointing season, having stayed outside the postseason picture for much of the time. Nonetheless, there have been several signs to suggest they have no intention of selling before the upcoming deadline. Earlier this month, owner Peter Seidler said the club wasn’t “going to reverse course” and more recent reporting said that suitors for rental lefties Blake Snell and Josh Hader were being turned away. Today, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that several rival clubs think the Padres will pivot and sell both of those southpaws. That potentially indicates a new approach, though Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports that the club had interest in Lucas Giolito before he was traded to the Angels, indicating the Friars still view themselves as buyers.
Whether the Padres change their mind and decide to sell or not will be a fascinating element to watch between now and the August 1 deadline. Their 49-54 record has them 6.5 games out of a playoff spot, with them needing to leapfrog at least four teams to get into postseason position. FanGraphs gives them a 28.2% chance of doing so, though Baseball Prospectus is far more bullish at 56%.
The club’s decision makers have seemingly held firm in their belief in the squad, though the move to the seller lane is surely tempting. The expanded playoffs and some weak divisions have seemingly created a seller’s market, with those clubs that have pieces to move in a position to do well. The White Sox seemed to have secured themselves a strong return for Giolito and Reynaldo López, with Edgar Quero and Ky Bush being previously considered two of the Angels’ top prospects. The Cubs are still deciding on their trade deadline plan, as their recent hot streak could lead to Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman coming off the table, giving further leverage to those who are selling.
If the Padres were to make Snell and Hader available, they could surely bring in quite a haul for their farm system, which could help them reload for the 2024 campaign. Snell is a former Cy Young winner and he’s having an excellent season, with a 2.61 ERA through 21 starts. Hader has been one of the best relievers in the league for a while now and has a miniscule 0.95 ERA this year. Both are impending free agents, making them logical trade chips on a selling team.
Though considering selling is likely a tough pill to swallow for the Padres, given how much they’ve already committed to this year’s club. They have run up the highest payroll in franchise history, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Their $277MM luxury tax calculation from Roster Resource puts them over the $273MM third line of penalization, lining them up to see their top 2024 draft pick pushed back by 10 spots.
They have already put a lot on the line and maybe they don’t want to sink their chances further by trading pieces like Hader and Snell. They could hold on and hope for a late surge, with still a chance to recoup a draft pick when each is given and inevitably declines a qualifying offer. But even that consolation prize will be lessened by their spending, since luxury tax payors have their compensation picks moved from just before the third round to just after the fourth.
If the Padres were to make either Snell or Hader or both available, they would undoubtedly have massive interest around the league. Just about every contender can use some more pitching and those two are both elite. Doing so could have the added bonus of allowing the Padres to dip below the third CBT tier and prevent next year’s top draft pick from moving. However, they may not have much appetite for that, despite their precarious position. Perhaps some more poor results in the coming days will change the calculus, though that remains to be seen. The Padres are off today but host the Rangers for three starting tomorrow before heading to Colorado on Monday. The trade deadline is Tuesday, August 1.