About a month ago, I pondered the question: why aren’t the Padres in on Harper or Machado? About a week later, rumors started flying around that the Padres were interested in both and looking to meet with them.
Harper would’ve joined an already crowded outfield, while Machado is coming into an infield that was really only missing one piece. Ian Kinsler was signed earlier this offseason, but the Padres needed one more cornerstone in the infield to pair with Tatis Jr., Urias, and Hosmer.
Harper would’ve been interesting because they could’ve packaged and traded any two combinations of Franchy Cordero, Manny Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, and Wil Myers. The Indians were probably an ideal location and still a potential trade partner for swapping a few outfielders and maybe another prospect for Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer.
The Padres for the last three years have seen the blueprint of the Cubs and Astros come to life and work out pretty well (2016 and 2017 WS Champs), and the Padres decided to speed up their competitive timeline a bit today with the 10 year, 300 million dollar contract to Manny Machado.
Critics of the signing are all pointing to a weak starting rotation as of right now that consists of Joey Lucchesi, Robbie Erlin, Bryan Mitchell, Eric Lauer, and Luis Perdomo. Now that doesn’t sound like a playoff rotation at all, but every one of those guys is under the age of 28.
The most important thing to factor in though is the unbelievable amount of quality minor league pitchers waiting to come up. With 10 prospects in the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list, seven of them are pitchers.
MacKenzie Gore – 2018 Level – A, 19 years old
Chris Paddack – 2018 Level – AA, 23 years old
Adrian Morejon – 2018 Level – Adv A, 19 years old
Michael Baez – 2018 Level – AA, 23 years old
Logan Allen – 2018 Level – AAA, 21 years old
Luis Patino – 2018 Level – Rookie, 19 years old
Ryan Weathers – 2018 Level – A, 19 years old
Cal Quantrill – 2018 Level – AAA, 24 years old
Anderson Espinoza – 2018 Level – DNP, 20 years old
Paddack, Morejon, Baez, Allen, and Quantrill all have a chance of getting their first crack in the big leagues this year.
Don’t forget about the free agent signing of Garrett Richards who will be back and healthy by 2020, and Dinelson Lamet who will be coming back to the team within the first month or two this season.
Yes, the Padres will need to add an ace or top of the rotation arm in the near future, but they can handle that with their payroll. But there is no reason to fret or overreact because some serious dudes are coming up within the next year.
It’s crazy because before Machado signs, their payroll is nearly a third dead money from Hector Olivera, Phil Hughes, Jedd Gyorko, and James Shields. It will be around 110-115 million dollars once Machado signs.
All the dead money will be off the books by 2021 (2020 has just Hector Olivera for his last 8.5 million), but Myers salary bumps up after 2019. Even with the bump up, the Padres will be able to sign one or two-star pitchers in free agency next year but maybe even now…
A trade might be the way to go for one of the star starter pitchers they need to add, but the outfield depth and prospect depth can easily take one hit to the armor.
Critics are also bringing up the 2015 Padres that flopped with Justin Upton, James Shields, Craig Kimbrel, and Matt Kemp, but this is different. They added a free agent at the age of 26 years old! How often are you able to add a superstar free agent that potentially hasn’t even hit his prime?
Yesterday, the Padres were a talented and stable bottom-up franchise, and today they added some serious long term talent to the top. The tough part is going to be the development of the rotation and deciding whether to let prospects grow into big leaguers, trade them for established talent, or to go sign free agents.
No matter what way they go with improving the starting the rotation and bullpen, I would be absolutely shocked if this team isn’t making serious noise by the end of 2020.
P.S. I mentioned Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias once, but they are looked at as the future of the Padres. This signing takes so much pressure off of them, and it will allow them to grow and develop with Machado who went through the same process of being a highly touted young, Latin middle infielder just a few years ago.
Almost forgot, San Diego might be the best city to live in in the US.