There are few teams in Major League Baseball who have as much to look forward to heading into the season as the San Diego Padres. The Friars, who are coming off a 66-96 regular season record, made leaps and bounds to improve their team during the offseason. They also have one of the best farm system’s in baseball and know that it is only a matter of time before they are ready to compete. We start our preview however, talking about one of the biggest free agent signings in baseball history.
When the free agent process began in early December, two major names quickly stood and made it known, they were not going to be a cheap commodity. In many ways, the combo of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will go down as the biggest FA class of all time. The two teams who were going to sign these respected superstars, were going to win the lottery and land a future hall of famer. After a long and strenuous negotiating process that took months upon months to come to a conclusion, Machado reached a deal with the San Diego Padres in the form of a 10-year contract, worth $300 million. This signing sent shock waves around the baseball community and will go down as one of the most lucrative contracts in major league history. The question now looms, “Is Machado worth all this money?” My answer to that is simply, if the shoe fits. Machado, a 26-year-old Floridian, has been nothing short of spectacular thus far in his 7 year major league career. He has made 4 all-star games, won two gold gloves, won a platinum glove, and has hit for 30 or more home runs in the last 4 seasons. Machado is the type of guy who loves to produce, and makes the game look extremely easy with his gifted athleticism. The Padres are going to bed tonight with a smile on their faces, as they know, they have a rising superstar on their team who will spend the rest of his playing career rocking an SD on his brim.
As if the Padres didn’t have enough swag heading into the 2019 season, they are getting ready to call up one of the flashiest and brightest prospects in the game, Fernando Tatis Jr. Tatis Jr, a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic, is currently ranked as the 2nd best prospect in all of baseball. It is said that Tatis Jr. has the potential to be the next great S.S. in baseball and has the tools to be a superstar within days of stepping foot on major league grass. He is fast, has extreme pop, has athleticism like you wouldn’t believe and can flash the leather like it is his day job. The last time I can remember a prospect getting this much praise and anticipation, was Kris Bryant before he made his major league debut in 2015. Tatis Jr. has not made the 25-man major league roster for opening day, but fans should expect to see him getting called up in the first few months of the season. At the young age of just 20, these expectations will become extremely hard for Tatis Jr. to live up to. But if he can, he will be loved in the city of San Diego, till the end of time.
One familiar face that Padre fans can expect to see and produce in 2019 is first basemen, Eric Hosmer. During last year’s MLB offseason, Hosmer signed a 8-year, $144 million deal with the Padres that was sure to make fans across the state giddy with excitement. Coming into the season, Hosmer, a 29-year-old from Miami had been selected to one all-star game, won 4 gold gloves, was a World Series champion and had won a Silver Slugger Award. He was also coming off a year where he had finished in the top 15 of MVP voting, surely adding a few more million dollars to his contract. In his first year with the Padres however, Hosmer had some what of a disappointing season, finishing the year with a .253 BA, hitting 18 homers and driving in just 69 runs. This brought much concern to the Friar faithful who are now brought to wonder if this was just a down season, or if Hosmer is the most overpaid player in the history of baseball. Personally, I do think Hosmer is being vastly overpaid, but feel that this was just an adjustment year for him that will be followed by one of solid production.
As we shift to the Padres pitching staff, there is only one man in my opinion who is worth being talked about. This man being, Joey Lucchesi. Lucchesi, a southpaw from Newark, is a guy who sticks out to me. He has a funky delivery and when he pitched last year against the Phillies, I found myself very intrigued. He is also very young and is freshly coming off of his rookie season in which he pitched for an 8-9 record to go along with a 4.08 ERA. This year does not jump out to anyone as impressive, but there were moments in his rookie season that showed potential. With a new look, high-powered offense that is set to make a splash soon, the Padres are looking for Lucchesi to become the ace of the future that will create a perfect balance.
Although the Padres are creating some buzz heading into the 2019 season, they are still a ways off from competing for a postseason spot. They don’t have a deep lineup, their starting pitching is lackluster and their bullpen is an absolute mess. I do think that the acquisition of Machado alone, will help the Padres win more games than a season ago, but ultimately think that they will end the year with no more than 70 wins. With that being said, this team is going to continue to improve over the next few years and when this process is finally completed, the Padres are going to be a team you don’t wanna mess with.