The Padres Have a Difficult Future

Xander Bogaerts Manny Machado Padres
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports activities

Padres followers in 2023 don’t have a ton to be enthusiastic about. The Friars have been in win-now mode for the final 4 seasons and are staring down their second shedding marketing campaign throughout that span. One of many two profitable seasons was form of ruined — for everybody on the earth — by a raging pandemic, leaving followers with just one 12 months that was each regular and an fulfilling expertise since 2010. In contrast to a number of groups with the same efficiency document, it’s not for lack of funding within the staff. Just some months after the big commerce that introduced Juan Soto to city, the staff signed Xander Bogaerts to a $280 million contract and saved Manny Machado from opting out with a fair spicier $350 million pact. The Padres additionally agreed on a $100 million contract for Joe Musgrove and locked up Yu Darvish for $108 million. That’s greater than $800 million, so we’re not speaking concerning the case of, say, the White Sox having points partly as a result of they couldn’t be bothered to fill large holes within the lineup as a result of that might have required cash.

As gloomy because the season feels proper now, there are nonetheless reputable causes to suppose the Padres are an excellent baseball staff. Their 68–54 Pythagorean document is 10 wins above their precise document, and data derived from run differential are extra predictive than win-loss document. The projections all nonetheless agree there’s lots to love and equally have an excellent document, comparatively talking, of predicting the long run. And this holds true even when speaking about groups with the biggest disagreement between the projections and the document. Trying on the 25 groups that FanGraphs like higher than their seasonal profitable proportion essentially the most, coin flips missed their rest-of-season profitable percentages by a mean of 86 factors, season to-date data by 81 factors, and FanGraphs data by 65 factors. These 25 groups had performed .396 ball by way of August 14 of their seasons; FanGraphs projected a .476 RoS profitable proportion, and the precise RoS profitable proportion for these groups was .458. We weren’t imagining issues.

However the basic downside the Padres face is that it’s merely far too late to be the staff they hoped they had been. Our projections still believe they’re a .572 staff, however that’s solely ok for a 19% probability of constructing the postseason with a divisional chance that rounds to zero; the ZiPS projections have it at 15%. Whereas these are nonetheless fairly good odds, particularly in comparison with how the season has felt, it’s nonetheless much more seemingly than not that this 12 months finally ends up being a darkish companion to the 2021 season that additionally resulted in stunningly bleak vogue.

And right here’s the issue: the Padres challenge to be worse sooner or later than they’re now. You could possibly say that about most groups, however the Padres are additionally a staff that has a large quantity of payroll already tied up in a declining roster, an unsigned Soto approaching free company, and doubtless not a number of room left to develop in a payroll sense. Complicating issues even additional is the monetary collapse of Bally Sports activities, because the staff has not but found out learn how to exchange that income. Forbes estimated the Padres misplaced $53 million in 2022, and issues are prone to worsen from there. Peter (Seidler) truly noticed a wolf.

Operating some up-to-date projections for gamers signed long-term demonstrates the enormity of the staff’s problem. I’m going to begin with the Padres’ core of six gamers who’ve assured contracts with annual salaries of at $10 million or extra by way of a minimum of the 2026 season. No matter occurs elsewhere on the staff, these six are nearly actually going to be a part of the muse.

ZiPS Projection – Manny Machado

Yr BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ DR WAR
2024 .265 .332 .465 533 81 141 27 1 26 90 55 108 6 123 6 4.7
2025 .256 .324 .438 504 73 129 24 1 22 80 52 104 5 114 5 3.7
2026 .251 .319 .423 471 65 118 22 1 19 70 48 98 4 108 4 2.9
2027 .247 .315 .409 430 57 106 20 1 16 60 43 92 3 103 2 2.3
2028 .234 .303 .371 385 48 90 17 0 12 50 38 86 3 90 1 1.3
2029 .227 .295 .353 326 39 74 14 0 9 40 32 76 2 83 0 0.6
2030 .226 .293 .349 261 30 59 11 0 7 31 25 61 1 81 -1 0.3
2031 .223 .290 .342 193 22 43 8 0 5 22 18 46 1 78 -1 0.1
2032 .215 .287 .319 135 15 29 5 0 3 15 13 33 1 72 -1 0.0
2033 .227 .289 .347 75 8 17 3 0 2 8 7 18 0 79 -1 0.0

It’s possible you’ll cringe trying on the finish of Machado’s contract, however ZiPS already anticipated that earlier than the season. Machado put collectively a powerful sufficient July — although he’s slumped since then and is nursing a sore hamstring — and skilled a transparent return to defensive type to trigger his 2024-and-on projections to tick up barely. Whereas ZiPS didn’t just like the deal, it doesn’t prefer it any lower than it did in February.

ZiPS Projection – Xander Bogaerts

Yr BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ DR WAR
2024 .266 .342 .406 534 75 142 27 0 16 65 58 112 10 111 -1 4.1
2025 .259 .335 .392 505 68 131 25 0 14 59 55 107 8 105 -1 3.3
2026 .252 .327 .375 469 61 118 22 0 12 52 50 101 7 99 -2 2.5
2027 .247 .322 .364 429 53 106 20 0 10 45 45 95 6 94 -3 1.9
2028 .242 .318 .351 376 46 91 17 0 8 38 40 86 4 90 -3 1.3
2029 .232 .307 .331 311 36 72 13 0 6 29 32 75 3 81 -4 0.6
2030 .231 .305 .328 229 25 53 10 0 4 21 23 55 2 80 -3 0.3
2031 .226 .301 .323 155 17 35 6 0 3 14 15 38 1 77 -3 0.1
2032 .231 .302 .327 104 11 24 4 0 2 9 10 26 1 78 -2 0.1

Bogaerts was mired in a deep stoop in Could and June, aided by a sore wrist, however has hit a extra Xanderian .290/.351/.413 for the reason that begin of July, in-line with preseason expectations. As with Machado’s latest deal, the Padres go into this contract realizing that they’re paying for Bogaerts to say no.

Yr BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ DR WAR
2024 .243 .327 .405 538 77 131 30 6 15 69 57 110 5 106 3 2.2
2025 .239 .322 .395 506 71 121 27 5 14 62 53 105 5 102 3 1.7
2026 .237 .320 .385 465 64 110 25 4 12 55 49 98 4 99 2 1.3
2027 .229 .312 .369 406 54 93 21 3 10 47 42 88 3 93 2 0.8
2028 .225 .310 .355 324 42 73 17 2 7 36 34 73 2 88 1 0.4
2029 .224 .306 .355 228 29 51 11 2 5 24 23 53 2 87 1 0.3
2030 .216 .299 .338 148 18 32 7 1 3 15 15 35 1 80 0 0.0

It is a little bit of an ungainly projection as a result of it highlights an assumption in staff building that turned out to not be true. Usually, an honest defensive second baseman who can credibly pretend enjoying shortstop will normally fare nicely at first base, however that simply has not occurred, a minimum of thus far, with Jake Cronenworth. With Ha-Seong Kim 김하성 firmly entrenched as a starter, the Padres have a participant with worth however not a logical place to play him with a view to get that worth. The distinction is excessive sufficient that ZiPS thinks that Cronenworth is now greater than a win per season much less helpful at first than second base.

ZiPS Projection – Jake Cronenworth (2B)

Yr BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ DR WAR
2024 .244 .325 .409 545 78 133 30 6 16 69 56 109 5 107 3 3.6
2025 .240 .321 .395 517 72 124 28 5 14 64 53 104 4 102 2 2.9
2026 .234 .318 .383 483 67 113 25 4 13 58 50 99 4 98 1 2.4
2027 .231 .313 .371 442 59 102 23 3 11 51 45 92 3 93 0 1.8
2028 .224 .306 .358 388 50 87 19 3 9 42 39 84 2 88 -1 1.2
2029 .216 .297 .332 319 39 69 15 2 6 33 31 72 2 78 -1 0.4
2030 .216 .297 .331 236 28 51 11 2 4 24 23 53 1 78 -2 0.3

Add in the truth that Cronenworth is having a down 12 months (and a fairly odd one when it comes to Statcast knowledge), and there’s only a lot much less motive to love his future than there was earlier than.

Yr BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ DR WAR
2024 .264 .336 .537 518 95 137 29 2 36 98 53 128 23 142 7 5.4
2025 .265 .340 .535 529 99 140 30 1 37 101 57 127 22 143 6 5.6
2026 .261 .339 .528 536 100 140 30 1 37 101 60 127 20 141 6 5.5
2027 .258 .338 .518 535 100 138 29 1 36 99 61 125 18 138 6 5.2
2028 .254 .336 .505 527 97 134 28 1 34 94 61 123 15 134 6 4.8
2029 .251 .332 .495 513 92 129 27 1 32 89 59 120 13 130 5 4.4
2030 .253 .334 .494 490 87 124 26 1 30 84 57 116 11 131 5 4.2
2031 .251 .330 .486 467 81 117 24 1 28 78 53 111 10 127 4 3.7
2032 .248 .328 .478 467 80 116 24 1 27 76 53 112 9 125 4 3.5
2033 .245 .324 .463 441 73 108 22 1 24 70 49 107 7 119 3 2.9
2034 .240 .320 .449 408 65 98 20 1 21 62 45 100 6 115 3 2.3

The place the positional gods punished the Padres with Cronenworth, they had been far kinder right here. Tatis’ bat isn’t fairly the place it was, however he’s truly turned out to be a wonderful defensive outfielder, a minimum of thus far. Given his age, he’s the one participant who tasks to complete out his contract as a plus contributor to the staff.

ZiPS Projection – Yu Darvish

Yr W L S ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2024 10 10 0 4.20 26 26 160.7 142 75 24 42 154 91 1.4
2025 8 9 0 4.52 23 23 137.3 129 69 23 38 126 84 0.6
2026 6 9 0 4.97 20 20 117.7 117 65 22 37 104 77 -0.1
2027 4 7 0 5.47 15 15 82.3 88 50 17 29 69 70 -0.6

ZiPS was all the time pretty pessimistic concerning the Darvish extension, and with out him reversing the continued gradual decline in his peripherals, it hasn’t modified course for the reason that begin of the season. Whereas I all the time say “hitters age, pitchers break,” Darvish is at an age the place cliffs do, actually, beckon. ZiPS didn’t even wish to challenge the ultimate two seasons of his extension; I’ll be sort and never drive it to, so we’ll name these zero-WAR seasons, which is sunnier than what ZiPS would say if I made it.

Yr W L S ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2024 10 7 0 3.38 26 26 154.7 135 58 17 35 148 113 2.9
2025 9 6 0 3.51 24 24 138.3 127 54 17 32 129 108 2.3
2026 7 6 0 3.75 21 21 124.7 118 52 16 31 112 101 1.7
2027 6 6 0 4.02 18 18 107.3 107 48 15 29 93 95 1.1

The efficiency projections of Musgrove have stayed about the identical — hardly shocking contemplating that when he was wholesome, he was having the same season to final 12 months. However his return this season stays up within the air, and new accidents create new threat for a pitcher, so his projected innings totals have dropped significantly.

OK, let’s throw everyone into one desk, full with their salaries.

ZiPS Projection – Padres 2024-2029

Participant 2024 WAR 2024 ($M) 2025 WAR 2025 ($M) 2026 WAR 2026 ($M) 2027 WAR 2027 ($M) 2028 WAR 2028 ($M) 2029 WAR 2029 ($M)
Machado 4.7 $17.1 3.7 $17.1 2.9 $25.1 2.3 $39.1 1.3 $39.1 0.6 $39.1
Bogaerts 4.1 $25.5 3.3 $25.5 2.5 $25.5 1.9 $25.5 1.3 $25.5 0.6 $25.5
Cronenworth 2.2 $7.3 1.7 $11.3 1.3 $12.3 0.8 $12.3 0.4 $12.3 0.3 $12.3
Tatis Jr. 5.4 $11.7 5.6 $20.7 5.5 $20.7 5.2 $25.7 4.8 $25.7 4.4 $36.7
Darvish 1.4 $16.0 0.6 $21.0 -0.1 $16.0 -0.6 $15.0 0.0 $15.0 0.0 $0.0
Musgrove 2.9 $20.0 2.3 $20.0 1.7 $20.0 1.1 $20.0 0.0 $0.0 0.0 $0.0
Totals 20.7 $97.6 17.2 $115.6 13.8 $119.6 10.7 $137.6 7.8 $117.6 5.9 $113.6

If the projections maintain true, these six will make up lower than a 3rd of the WAR wanted to be a 90-win staff as quickly as 2026, after they mix for $120 million in wage. Until the staff continues to spend increasingly cash, it’s going to get more durable and more durable to make use of {dollars} to patch holes, which signifies that the farm system has to get again to producing in a short time. The Padres aren’t seemingly to have the ability to win on the backs of those six gamers for very lengthy, which signifies that they seemingly should give you a complete new core of expertise round these gamers.

The danger right here is one among dynastic failure. I’m not calling the Padres a dynasty when it comes to baseball success, however extra how the time period has been used traditionally. A number of warlords in historical past managed to get a throne, however to determine long-term rule, they needed to survive the transition to the subsequent rulers. The Astros are an instance of a staff that has prevented dynastic failure; solely a handful of the gamers on the staff that received the World Sequence in 2017 had been nonetheless on the roster when Houston received the World Sequence in 2022. Solely Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman stay among the many Astros’ offensive contributors right now, and the one pitcher nonetheless in Houston, Lance McCullers Jr., received’t pitch once more till 2024 [and Verlander who I forgot about for some very odd reason -DS]. They mainly got here up with practically a wholly new staff in 5 years.

Baseball historical past is riddled with profitable groups that had been unable to transition to the following period and not using a vital interregnum, such because the Utley-Howard Phillies and the Tigers through the peak Miguel Cabrera years. However these Phillies received a World Sequence, and whereas the Tigers didn’t, that they had extra playoff success than these Padres groups have had. To attain that success, the Padres are going to should be extraordinarily inventive over the following 5 years, lest they find yourself as one of many nice “what ifs” in baseball historical past. Spending cash and having just a few huge stars received’t be sufficient.