San Diego Padres: Bright future should lead to aggressive offseason

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 31: Jayce Tingler (2nd-R) poses for a photo with San Diego Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler (L) general manager A.J. Preller (2nd-L) and general partner Peter Seidler (R) at a news conference held to announce Tingler's hiring as the new manager of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park October 31, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 31: Jayce Tingler (2nd-R) poses for a photo with San Diego Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler (L) general manager A.J. Preller (2nd-L) and general partner Peter Seidler (R) at a news conference held to announce Tingler's hiring as the new manager of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park October 31, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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Despite revenue losses, the San Diego Padres need to be aggressive this offseason in order to take the next step.

Following a successful 2020 regular season, the San Diego Padres concluded their MLB postseason run by playing into the divisional round. The team made headlines by hitting grand slams, the pure athleticism of Fernando Tatis Jr., and the MVP season of Manny Machado.

In short, what a bright future for the Friars. But these accomplishments aren’t enough and should push the Padres to be aggressive this offseason.

Payroll Constraints Could Restrict the Padres

In actuality, the Padres might waving goodbye to a significant part of this past season’s roster. Whether it is leaving through trade, free agency or failure to pick up a contract’s option. With Halloween around the corner, the Padres are hoping past roster mistakes don’t haunt them this offseason.

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The biggest holdup to the Hot Stove League is waiting for MLB to release how much revenue was lost due to the delay and shortening of the 2020 season. From a baseball fan’s perspective, you hope the final numbers fall under the projections associated with the NBA.

First reported by the Associated Press, the NBA fell under their revenue projection by $1.5 billion. If baseball revenue losses are in the same range, then you can expect team’s payrolls to be cut significantly all throughout the sport. This will make it harder for the Padres to improve the roster.

Currently, the Padres active payroll stands at just under $125 million, with the top three salaries being Machado at $32 million, Wil Myers at $22.5 million and Eric Hosmer at $21 million. Together, they make up more than half (59 percent) of the Padres payroll. Thus, any way you slice it, the Padres flexibility to make player deals will be limited until general manager AJ Preller is given the OK to add additional salary by the team’s ownership group.

Let’s raise the caution flag as we’re in the early stages of the offseason. However, the Padres cannot stand idle and miss opportunities to improve themselves. Especially after being exposed by their main rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in a three game playoff sweep earlier this month. Standing pat could lessen the fan’s enthusiasm.

Too often, we hear general managers explain the lack of player movement during the offseason is due in part to their aggressiveness at the trade deadline. This argument is considered “subtraction by addition.” Unless your team is hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy over their heads after winning the World Series, then you have failed to improve the roster.

Continually, GMs get burned by investing in short-term solutions that hinder their roster maneuverability long-term. This could mean taking on additional salary that will be hard to move at some point in the future. Preller’s outstanding work during last August’s trade deadline kept the Padres top prospects list intact. Now, some of those players might become possible roster additions next spring.

Top Prospects Must be Given an Opportunity

At this moment in time, the best argument for the Padres improving boils down to their top prospects taking the necessary steps in their development.

Yes, Trent Grisham faces the challenge of replicating the same production in his second season with the Friars. Internally, the Padres front office might be expecting Luis Patino and Ryan Weathers to contribute more in 2021 after dipping their toes in the major league pool this past season. And, of course, there is MacKenzie Gore who is the organization’s top prospect. Many expect him to be an impactful starting pitcher atop of the Padres rotation. Possibly, taking place as early as next season.

But, you may want to show some caution when projecting expectations for such young athletes. However, today’s baseball is all about drafting, signing and developing players as fast as possible. A rookie’s window of opportunity begins when he is put on the 40-man major league roster.

Trading Could be the Lone Option for the Padres

Looking up and down the Padres roster, you see a number of players that could be on their way out of San Diego. For some, the writing is on the wall, while others may have priced themselves out of town.

The key to making a good trade is you better strike quickly or you will regret a miss opportunity to acquire the right player that fits a need. The one thing in the Padres favor is Preller rarely stumbles in this area. Case in point, acquiring Tatis Jr. in the lopsided James Shields trade with the Chicago White Sox.

By all accounts, the 2020 free agent market is pretty shallow with talent. But there are a number of players in their walk year for the Padres to take off another team’s hands. In this cost-conscious culture of major league baseball, teams may not have the resources available to extend a deal to a player entering the final year on his current contract. The time might be right to gain a prospect or two rather than watching that player exit and gain nothing in return.

Baseball is a funny game. Franchises realize too late that they had a window of opportunity to win a World Series.

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This offseason, the San Diego Padres need to explore every avenue available to them to make this team better and seize the opportunity to win right now.

Wait until next year is not an option.