Are the Padres Tanking to Look Ahead?

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Recently in MLB, there has been talk about some teams that are simply tanking for a year or two to get better draft picks. After all, the Astros did that for a few years and ended up with Carlos Correia who quickly lived up to his hype and is one of the best young players in baseball. The Nationals had well-timed tanking it seems as they netted both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in consecutive drafts to help them become a yearly contender. Is it a thing and are the Padres tanking in 2016. Perhaps the tougher question: should they?

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First of all, no, I do not for a minute think the Padres are tanking. If they were they would surely have tried harder to shed large contracts like James Shields and Matt Kemp.

"ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote a few months back about the issue: “After cutting spending and losing a lot of games in successive years and finishing at the bottom of the standings, the Astros and Cubs had picked at or near the top of the draft and had access to players such asCarlos Correa and Kris Bryant.  The impolite phrase for this is much more common in the National Basketball Association: tanking.”"

He points to teams this year like the Braves, Phillies, Brewers and Reds who appear to be doing so this year. That was before the Brewers traded Jean Segura just yesterday to the Diamondbacks who are clearly in win mode after a few years of building up their own farm system.

Fangraphs.com recently addressed the issue and said this specifically about the Padres: “The Padres are 12 months away from a huge (and ill-advised) win-now push that saw them make a bunch of future-for-present moves…If anything, the Padres are being too slow to enter a necessary rebuild, following the footsteps of the Rockies, who have been perpetually mediocre without committing to a direction.”

I certainly agree with this assessment of where the Padres are, and generally think that it is simpler more of a natural order of things than any overt strategy. The Kansas City Royals just won a World Series after all – against a Mets team that just a few years ago the world deemed bankrupt and hopeless for years. Johnny Cueto cost more for one season than the entire Mets starting rotation. The Mets built that through strong drafting to put themselves in a position to win – not tanking.

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As MLB teams use more advanced metrics in evaluating players, I think you will have fewer draft busts and more draft surprises. The Padres are not tanking, but instead if there is a strategy building a solid “middle group” of players in the Shields/Kemp range. They have some prospects on the rise in Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe and might be waiting to make a big move or two like the D’backs did this off-season in going after Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. To me there is more parity in baseball than ever, more chances to win for every team for longer into the season and that makes it more exciting than ever before as even smaller markets have more resources through TV deals.

What do you think? Are other teams tanking or is part of a larger strategy? What exactly are the Padres doing?

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