Padres have put the rest of the National League on notice
The San Diego Padres have shown that they are all-in for the 2021 season.
This past season, the San Diego Padres made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and they won a playoff series for the first time since 1998 when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card round. They weren’t able to get past the Los Angeles Dodgers, but General Manager A.J. Preller is doing all he can to see that they can indeed beat the Dodgers – and the rest of the league – in 2021.
The Padres have acquired starting pitcher Yu Darvish, who finished second in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2020, from the Chicago Cubs, along with catcher Victor Caratini. The move fills two needs that the team had: starting pitching and catching depth behind Austin Nola, since they are now without Francisco Mejia.
Yet regarding that starting pitching need, San Diego had already addressed that the day before when they acquired 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays. The Darvish trade cost the team Zach Davies, who himself had a nice 2020 season, but the Padres’ starting rotation of Snell, Darvish, Dinelson Lamet (assuming he’s healthy), Chris Paddack, and a fifth starter – possibly MacKenzie Gore – has to be considered among MLB’s best.
When the team gets Mike Clevinger back in 2022, that rotation is going to be even scarier. (Let’s not forget that Snell and Darvish are both signed for three more seasons.) But for now, let’s focus on 2021. Most teams around the majors are being extra cautious this offseason, due largely to the uncertainty over the pandemic and the potential upcoming labor strife.
The Padres, on the other hand, have gone against the current, both at the trade deadline in 2020, when they were aggressive in upgrading the team, and in this offseason, when they came into the winter, most regarded, as still underdogs to the Dodgers. Perhaps Preller sees an opportunity where most teams are taking a step back. He certainly did with the Cubs, who probably could have gotten more than they did for Darvish but were mainly looking to dump payroll.
In any case, the Padres have sent a strong message to the rest of the league by making these two moves: that they are all-in for 2021 and will do almost anything to get past the Dodgers and the rest of the league. Except, that is, give up all their top prospects. Despite all these moves over the past few months, they still have Gore, C.J. Abrams, Luis Campusano, Robert Hassell, and Ryan Weathers, among others. There’s still some depth there to make a deadline move in 2021, if they feel the need.
Oh, and for good measure, they also signed Ha-Seong Kim to add depth to their offense. Let’s not forget about that move, either. Kim has primarily played shortstop and third base – the Padres are set at those positions – but he adds a lot of depth to their infield, making an already strong offense that much more dangerous.
The message behind these moves is clear: At a time of a lot of uncertainty in Major League Baseball, the Padres are going for it all in 2021 and beyond. And for that reason, fans should be excited. It’s a great time to be a San Diego Padres fan.