Let’s take a look at the Padres, who are still bad but will probably be good soon. It’s just a matter of when.
Eric Hosmer (free agent), Kazuhisa Makita (free agent), Chase Headley (trade), Freddy Galvis (trade), Bryan Mitchell (trade), Craig Stammen (re-signed), Jordan Lyles (re-signed)
Notable NRIs: A.J. Ellis, Tyson Ross, (Tall) Chris Young
Jhoulys Chacin (free agent), Yangervis Solarte (trade), Jabari Blash (trade), Ryan Schimpf (trade), Travis Wood (released), Erick Aybar (free agent)
San Diego made the most expensive free agent signing of the winter in guaranteeing $144 million over eight years to first baseman Eric Hosmer. It’s a strange move for a team that lost 91 games in 2017 and has averaged 89 losses over the last seven years.
But the Padres boast a rich farm system, with infielders Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias and pitchers Mackenzie Gore and Michael Baez all consensus top-100 prospects in baseball as ranked by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN and FanGraphs.
It spawned a classic line from agent Scott Boras, who on Tuesday called the Padres “a volcano of hot talent lava.”
They signed Hosmer in hopes that he would help lead that group of youngsters as they ascend to the majors. But for now the Padres aren’t quite there.
The reacquired Chase Headley and his contract (he’s due $13 million in 2018) and for their troubles got an extra pitcher in Bryan Mitchell. Yangervis Solarte, Ryan Schimpf and Erick Aybar are gone, and Freddy Galvis is in, so the infield should look a whole lot different.
It’s just hard to see much coming from a starting rotation headed by Clayton Richard.
Brad Hand has been one of the best relievers in baseball the past few years, and the Padres signed their closer to a three-year, $19.75 million contract extension in January that bought out one free agent season and possibly another with a 2021 club option. Either he’ll be a part of the next good Padres team or will be traded for a package that adds to the young talent San Diego already has.
The Padres don’t come to Los Angeles until the end of May, and that’s after the teams will have played in two different cities during the regular season. In addition, the Dodgers don’t have a trip to San Diego after the All-Star break in 2018.
The Padres were supposed to be historically terrible last year — they carried three Rule 5 players on the opening day roster — but managed to win 71 games despite a pythagorean record of 59-103 based on their runs scored and runs allowed. The team plays hard under Andy Green, and the manager last August signed a contract extension through 2021. So I’m inclined to take the over on 69½ but still think the Padres will finish with a losing record for an eighth consecutive season.