Do you remember in 2015 when the San Diego Padres took the offseason by storm by acquiring a handful of star talent in efforts to make the postseason? If so, you probably also remember when they traded away all but one of those players before the 2017 season.
If Padres fans are wary about this offseason, it’s hard to blame them. The club looked poised to compete in 2015 and ended up in fourth place in the NL West that year. This team looks better than the 2015 club but another problem exists. The four other NL West clubs are just as competitive coming into 2018.
The Padres have a lot to prove this year and though they look good on paper, can they bring that talent onto the field every day?
1 Greatest Addition: Eric Hosmer
The Padres added a lot of pieces to the lineup, but no one stands out more than Eric Hosmer. Wil Myers had been the first baseman since 2016, but now looks to be moving back to the outfield with Hosmer manning first base.
Giving Hosmer an eight-year contract shows that the Padres are serious about winning, and he is also a defensive upgrade at first base while also providing Myers some extra help in the lineup. Plus, Hosmer’s World Series experience with the Kansas City Royals makes him the ideal person to lead a young team looking to snap the third-longest playoff drought in MLB at 12 years.
2 Greatest Loss: Jhoulys Chacin
Jhoulys Chacin was the Padres' best pitcher last season, posting a 3.89 ERA and a record of 13-10. Chacin appeared to rediscover himself last season after 2014 rotator cuff surgery sidelined him with the Rockies and ultimately led to his release before the 2015 season.
His bounce-back season appealed to the Milwaukee Brewers, who signed him this offseason. The Padres also have a handful of youngsters who debuted last season and could be unpredictable in terms of success this year. Luis Perdomo showed flashes of what he’s capable of being last season but posted a 4.67 ERA in 29 starts. As for the other three rotation spots, the competition is on. Thus, Chacin provides stability to a rotation that could prove unpredictable.
3 Greatest Asset: The farm system
The Padres have one of the best farms systems in the league, which should excite fans based on whose won the last three World Series titles. Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr., their No. 3 and 4 prospects, were recently sent to minor league camp but put up respectable batting averages in their first full minor league seasons last year, with Urias batting .296 and Tatis .278.
Another prospect to watch is Franchy Cordero, who's hitting over .350 this spring. The Padres have a lot to look forward to with the farm system, but most of their top players won’t be ready until 2019 at the earliest. Still, there's a lot to be excited for in the future.
4 Greatest Liability: Pitching
The Padres added a lot of hitters this offseason, but barely touched the pitching staff other than letting Chacin walk in free agency. The only credible name on the Padres pitching staff is reliever Brad Hand, who made the All-Star team last year with a 2.16 ERA.
If San Diego wants to be a force in the NL West, they should have fought harder to add a veteran arm like Jake Arrieta or Alex Cobb. Now that Cobb is about to sign with the Orioles, the Padres truly are rolling dice with their current pitchers.
5 X-Factor: Chase Headley
Chase Headley is back in San Diego after spending the last three years with the New York Yankees. Headley broke into the majors with the Padres in 2007, the last time San Diego was close to making the playoffs, and will assume third base duties once again. Headley, like Hosmer, will also be a leader in the clubhouse this season but the only difference is Headley is most likely on the club as a potential trade piece later in the season.
If Headley can put up good numbers through the first three months, the Padres could make a trade that involves him for either some middling prospects or another pitcher. It won’t matter how San Diego is doing as a club as long as Headley is performing to the best of his abilities. The game is harsh on the business side, but Headley will likely play for a team in contention if he’s successful with the Padres.
Moreover, if he can step up as a leader and his teammates play well, he may stick around for the entire year.
6 Final Thoughts
The Padres made things interesting in the NL West with the addition of Eric Hosmer and others, but 2018 won’t be their year. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks are early favorites to compete for the NL West and the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants won't be far behind them.
San Diego could post a winning season if all goes well, but the only way they win the division is if the rest of the NL West falls off the planet. The time will come when this team competes and hopefully wins their first World Series, but the process isn’t finished and the front office will not rush to make things happen sooner.
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