The Padres finally put themselves back on the map in 2020. Emboldened by last year’s success, president of baseball operations A.J. Preller spent the winter attempting to assemble a championship-caliber roster. Preller had plenty of money to play with, evidenced by the Padres’ franchise-record $174MM Opening Day payroll.
Major League Signings
Ha-Seong Kim, INF: Four years, $28MM (mutual option for 2025)
Jurickson Profar, INF/OF: Three years, $21MM
Mark Melancon, RHP: One year, $3MM ($5MM mutual option or $1MM buyout for 2022)
Keone Kela, RHP: One year, $1.2MM
Brian O’Grady, INF/OF: One year, $650K (split contract)
Total spend: $54.05MM
Trades And Claims
Acquired LHP Blake Snell from the Rays for RHPs Luis Patino and Cole Wilcox, C Francisco Mejia and C/1B Blake Hunt
Acquired RHP Yu Darvish and C Victor Caratini from the Cubs for RHP Zach Davies, INFs Reginald Preciado and Yeison Santana, and OFs Owen Caissie and Ismael Mena
Acquired RHP Joe Musgrove from Pirates in three-team trade for OF Hudson Head, LHPs Joey Lucchesi and Omar Cruz, and RHPs Drake Fellows and David Bednar
Acquired LHP James Reeves from the Yankees for OF Greg Allen
Claimed RHP Jordan Humphreys from the Giants
Notable Minor League Signings
Nabil Crismatt, Patrick Kivlehan, Parker Markel, Jacob Rhame, Nick Burdi, Nick Ramirez, Wynston Sawyer
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS: 14 years, $340MM
Mike Clevinger, RHP: Two years, $11.5MM
Patino, Mejia, Lucchesi, Trevor Rosenthal, Garrett Richards, Jason Castro, Kirby Yates, Mitch Moreland, Luis Perdomo, Greg Garcia
At 37-23, the Padres finished with the majors’ third-best record last season, but that still left them six games behind the Dodgers – their NL West rival and the reigning World Series champions. With that in mind, Preller and his front office cohorts used the past few months seemingly leaving no stone unturned in an effort to overthrow the Dodgers, who have ruled the division for eight consecutive seasons. The Padres showed interest in a variety of household names both in free agency and trades, and they were successful in reeling in a few big fish.
The always aggressive Preller’s main headline-grabbing acquisitions addressed the Padres’ rotation, which was terrific last year. However, the Padres saw a couple of their top starters – Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger – go down with injuries late in the season, while Garrett Richards then exited in free agency. Lamet hasn’t yet returned from the elbow issues that ended his season in September, though he doesn’t seem far away from his 2021 debut. On the other hand, the Padres learned in November that Clevinger, who was a blockbuster in-season pickup, required Tommy John surgery. He’s not going to pitch at all in the current campaign, but that didn’t stop the Padres from signing Clevinger to a two-year, back-loaded deal with the hope that he’ll factor in come 2022.
In the wake of the Clevinger news, the Padres went to work in a major way. They showed interest ranging from mild to serious in free agents such as Trevor Bauer, Masahiro Tanaka, Tomoyuki Sugano, Adam Wainwright, Kohei Arihara and Martin Perez. Trade targets included Sonny Gray and Lance Lynn, though the Padres instead landed three other high-profile starters via that route.
The first domino to fall for San Diego was the acquisition of former AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Rays. Snell has three years and $39MM of control left, so as you’d expect, the Rays didn’t give him away for cheap. Rather, the package headed to Tampa Bay centered on 21-year-old righty Luis Patino, who ranks among the premier prospects in the sport. The Padres also had to surrender two other quality prospects – righty Cole Wilcox and catcher/first baseman Blake Hunt – as well as a once-heralded farmhand in Francisco Mejia. Acquired from the Indians in the teams’ Brad Hand trade in 2018, Mejia was never able to establish himself with the Padres at catcher, nor did his offense come close to matching the hype.
The Snell swap wasn’t the only late-December present for the Padres or their fans. Shortly after swinging the trade with Tampa Bay, Preller & Co. pried 2020 NL Cy Young finalist Yu Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini from the Cubs. It didn’t cost the Padres nearly as much this time, in part because they ate all but $3MM on the $62MM Darvish is owed over the next three years.