Neither a gargantuan investment in Manny Machado nor the marvelous rookie introduction of Fernando Tatis Jr. helped the Padres escape from the majors’ basement this season. With a 70-92 mark in 2019, the club’s now mired in a 13-year playoff drought and stuck on nine seasons without at least a .500 finish. Executive chairman Ron Fowler has seen just about enough. As Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, Fowler apologized to Padres fans Monday for an “embarrassing” season, particularly a 25-47 second-half unraveling that undid the promising 45-45 mark San Diego mustered before the All-Star break.
Fowler also assured fans that “heads will roll, beginning with mine” if the Padres don’t make legitimate progress in 2020. Manager Andy Green already paid the price for this year’s failings, as the club ousted him Sept. 21 and is now seeking someone it believes will be more capable of orchestrating a much-needed 180.
With the Padres having scapegoated the manager for their dismal 2019 showing, GM A.J. Preller could become a realistic candidate to lose his job sometime next year if the tide doesn’t start turning. Preller has helped amass an impressive collection of young talent since his hiring in August 2014, but even when he made a serious effort to build a winner early in his tenure, the roster fell well shy of expectations.
Considering Preller has led the franchise on an extensive rebuild in recent seasons, it’s more understandable that the Padres have continued to wallowed at the bottom of the standings. However, the organization’s attempts to leave its rebuild behind have also come up short so far, thanks in part to multiple questionable signings. The eight-year, $144MM contract the Padres handed Eric Hosmer prior to 2018 has been a disaster. The six-year, $83MM extension the team gave Wil Myers entering 2017 hasn’t worked out much better. And even Machado, whom the Padres inked to a 10-year, $300MM contract in free agency last offseason, wasn’t his typically spectacular self in 2019.
Fowler hasn’t voiced any dissatisfaction in regards to Machado (at least not publicly), whereas the other two big-money Padres have drawn his ire. He “addressed his disappointment” in Hosmer’s defense and Myers’ offense, per Acee, who reports it’s “likely” the Padres would eat half of the money left on the latter’s contract in order to trade him. Myers, who’s cognizant a move could occur, is still owed $60MM for the next three years on his heavily backloaded deal. It remains to be seen whether another franchise would want the 28-year-old for even half of his remaining money, though, as Myers’ offense has only hovered around league average over the past few seasons. Committing $30MM to a corner outfielder/first baseman who’s coming off one of his worst seasons at the plate doesn’t seem like an especially appealing proposition.
While shopping Myers will be on the Padres’ agenda this offseason, they may also be in for an aggressive winter of additions if we’re to take Fowler’s frustration at face value. The Padres’ offense finished this year near the bottom of the majors in runs (27th), wRC+ (24th) and position player fWAR (19th), all of which shows there’s vast room for improvement there. San Diego’s pitching staff was similarly subpar, placing 18th in team ERA and 23rd in FIP, and also figures to be a key area of focus in the coming months.
For now, Fowler told Acee he’s on the heels of his “worst 2½ months of ownership” – a span in which, “There were some days, quite honestly, I didn’t want to get out of bed.”