Postmortem: San Diego Padres

The 89-73 Padres finished the regular season 22 games in back of the 111-51 LA Dodgers in the NL West, yet they made the playoffs as the second wild card. After defeating the Mets in the wild card round, they defeated the Dodgers in the NLDS. It was, by win-loss records, the biggest playoff upset since the 93-win Chicago White Sox beat the 116-win Chicago Cubs in the 1906 World Series. They then went down in defeat against the Philadelphia Phillies, completing a NL tournament in which the home field advantage team won 0 of 5 series.

in previous postmortem posts, I’ve identified an “elephant in the room” that will drive the team’s offseason planning. For the Padres, that elephant was there all season in 2022 already: Fernando Tatis, Jr. His 2022 started with non-baseball injuries (motorcycle accidents, and that he’s not supposed to ride them based on his contract) prior to the season. That caused him to miss the first half of the season. Then he gets Ted positive for PEDs, and was suspended for the second half of the season and the playoffs. He also had additional surgeries on a shoulder in September (injured in 2021) and his wrist that was injured last offseason a few weeks ago.

The Padres obtained Juan Soto at the trade deadline with dream of his bat being in the same lineup with both Manny Machado and Tatis. It was not meant to be. It was remarkable that the Padres made such a deep playoff run without Tatis, and it is fair to wonder what might have been had he been available the whole season. Thanks to his $300+M contract, he will be in a Padres uniform for years to come, but his health will be a question mark…nobody really knows how productive he will be until he does get back on the field. Will he still be one of the most exciting players to watch in baseball? It’s likely he won’t be thought of as “the future face of baseball” as many expected him to be; PED baggage is generally not easy to shed. We do know when he will be eligible to play again…the suspension ends April 20, 2023 (the playoff games missed counted toward his 80-game suspension).

The outlook for 2023 revolves around Tatis also in terms of what position he will play. As great as he’s been, he committed a lot of errors at shortstop. In his absence, Ha Seinfeld Kim proved himself superior with the glove there. Thus it’s felt Tatis will likely move to centerfield. That would also potentially be better for keeping him off the IL. Jurickson Profar is a free agent. Presuming he doesn’t return, that would open space to shuffle the remaining outfielders while slotting in Tatis. If the Padres do return Tatis to short, they’d then likely move Kim to second and Jake Cronenworth to first. Based on which way they are planning, they will be in the market either for a first baseman or an outfielder in free agency.

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