After years of consistently finishing with one of the worst records in all of baseball, the San Diego Padres are starting to look like a legitimate threat in the National league.
Manny Machado’s decision to sign with San Diego this offseason was largely billed as a choice of money over a chance to win, but it really shouldn’t have been. The move is more comparable to John Lester signing with the Cubs in the winter of 2014, just after the Cubs had finished last—again—in the NL Central. Machado, like Lester, signed for a chance to lead San Diego into an era of dominance.
Sure, the 2018 Padres were terrible; but San Diego’s farm system has been ranked number one overall two years in a row by MLB Pipeline. Building a competitive team through the farm system is a model that has been followed successfully by World Series contenders like the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and—surprisingly—the New York Yankees. The San Diego Padres are just starting to arrive.
Outfielders Franmil Reyes and Manuel Margot showed flashes of brilliance last year despite the team’s dismal season. Right-hander Chris Paddack (ERA: 1.55, WHIP 0.69) is on the short list for rookie of the year and should be the ace of the rotation for years to come. Starters Matt Strahm, Joey Lucchesi, and Eric Lauer were all top prospects; still in their 20s; and have shown they can be reliable in the rotation. Shortstop Fernando “Show Me Your” Tatis Jr. is batting .300 through 100 at bats and looks every bit the top prospect he’s been billed as. Meanwhile, Left-handed pitcher Mackenzie Gore and middle infielder Luis Urias are still waiting in the wings, but should be called up sooner than rather than later.
It’s too soon to expect this team to contend for a championship, but it’s time to start asking: “Who’s your Padre?”