In 2018, not many expect the San Diego Padres to reach the playoffs. While they have made some good adjustments this offseason, the team is clearly focused on the future. Couple that with playing in the NL West – a division that featured three playoff teams last season – and the Padres’ 2018 playoff hopes look grim.
However, that really isn’t news. No one is expecting that Padres to compete in 2018. The team has a bright future, which includes seven top 100 prospects in MLB Pipeline’s current rankings. If they aren’t competing in 2018, they are setting themselves up for success very soon.
That being said, San Diego has been much more aggressive in this offseason than in prior seasons. They traded for a great defensive shortstop in Freddy Galvis as well as a pitcher with upside in Bryan Mitchell. They’ve been connected to top-notch players such as Eric Hosmer and Christian Yelich. Perhaps the Padres are looking to get back into contention much sooner than people think.
One MLB Insider thinks sooner can be this season and that the Padres have, “sneaky postseason potential”.
Phil Rogers of MLB.com recently wrote an article detailing five teams he thinks could be surprise playoff contenders, much like the Twins and Diamondbacks from last season. The five teams were the Angels, Cardinals, Mariners, Phillies and Padres.
For San Diego, he wrote:
"Speaking of which, Galvis will answer a major question by giving San Diego a proven shortstop to build an infield around until Luis Urias or Fernando Tatis Jr. forces their way into the lineup. The Padres will move up this list if they win the Eric Hosmer sweepstakes, but they have made enough smaller moves — Galvis, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Headley, Japanese reliever Kazuhisa Makita and Jordan Lyles — to be on it.If San Diego does land Hosmer, Wil Myers could become one of the most productive left fielders around. Closer Brad Hand remains of interest to several teams, but he will only be dealt at a high price. The Padres probably need more time, but they have lots of talent. They could be one of the best stories in baseball if they come flying out of the gate."
Rogers starts off by talking about shortstop Freddy Galvis. San Diego had to move a top 20 prospect in Enyel de los Santos to land him, but the former Phillie could play dividends. On offense, Galvis brings legit 20/20 potential as he has hit at least 12 home runs and stole 14 bases the past two season. He also brings a great defensive glove at shortstop, which will be crucial for a pitching staff who strives on ground balls.
It’s unknown when top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. or Luis Urias will reach the majors. However Galvis should succeed during his time at the position in San Diego.
Bryan Mitchell is likely the second biggest addition of the offseason. Acquired with Chase Headley – who could be traded before the season starts – Mitchell will have a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation. He may have held a 4.94 ERA in the Bronx, but he was reportedly a pitcher the Padres had sought after for three years. Clearly the team sees potential. If he can reach it, A.J. Preller will have himself a steal.
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San Diego has a good, yet unspectacular pitching core which features players such as Clayton Richard, Dinelson Lamet and Luis Perdomo. They may not be household names, but they have shined in the past. If all four pitchers could find success, perhaps Rogers’ prophecy will come true.
The Padres spent time adding to their bullpen by bringing in relievers Kazhuhisa Makita and Craig Stammen. Stammen shined during his time with the Padres last season, pitching to a 3.14 ERA and a 74/28 K/BB ratio. He was one of the most underrated pitchers in the league last season, it was imperative the Padres brought him back. Makita is much more intriguing. A former Japanese star, Makita held a career 2.83 ERA. His submarine pitching motion will likely fool some batters as he will be an intriguing pitcher to watch in San Diego.
The Padres were smart to bring in two talented relievers. Both should help the Padres win more than a few games and help the team’s young core adapt when they reach the MLB. But more importantly, they build a strong bridge to top-flight closer Brad Hand.
Hand is the key to the Padres’ success in 2018. He has shined during his first two seasons in San Diego, pitching to a 2.56 ERA and a 215/56 K/BB ratio with 22 saves. If the Padres get out to a hot start, it means that Hand is able to shut out close games. He will be tasked with leading the team’s new bullpen, but if he pitches anything like how he has the past two seasons, he should be up for the task.
It’s interesting that Rogers states that even without Hosmer the Padres could be a sneaky playoff contender. Perhaps we are all underestimating the offensive firepower of Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe, who could both hit 30+ home runs.
Overall, the Padres offseason is not done. There will be many more moves made and the team will look much different come opening day. However if it stays put, Phil Rogers already sees them as a potential playoff team.
It’s more likely that the Padres reach the playoffs in 2019 or 2020. But if they get off to a hot start, who knows where they may end up. The 2018 playoffs? We’ll have to wait and see.