For most teams, trading for a trio of Cy Young-caliber arms and a promising middle-of-the-rotation starter in less than a year would decimate a farm system. That’s not the case in San Diego.
Padres GM and president of baseball operations AJ Preller pulled off deals for Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, Mike Clevinger and Joe Musgrove without tapping into his pool of blue chip prospects or any of his top big league talent. His reward? Heading into the 2021 season with the seventh-best farm system in all of Major League Baseball, according to Keith Law of The Athletic (subscription required).
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That bodes well for Preller and the Padres, who are looking to win their first-ever World Series championship – although they face a tough road with the reigning World Series champion Dodgers looming in the NL West.
There are two ways this minor league talent could pay dividends for the organization. The first? A steady stream of young players who will make their way to Petco Park in the coming years, adding a new look to a roster that’s already one of the deepest in the league.
I mean, we’re talking about a staff that already boasts the aforementioned Snell, Darvish and Musgrove – not to mention Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack. Clevinger will be back from Tommy John surgery in 2022 and we haven’t even mentioned the team’s top prospects.
MacKenzie Gore, widely regarded as the best left-handed pitching prospect in the game today, is waiting in the wings after a brief cup of coffee in the big leagues last season. Adrian Morejon and Ryan Weathers also fall in Baseball America‘s list of top 10 Padres prospects and will likely arrive in San Diego in either 2021 or 2022.
And while the team has Austin Nola and Victor Caratini set to tackle things behind the dish this year, Luis Campusano is clearly the future at the catcher position. He could make his debut as soon as 2021, as well – another good sign for Padres fans.
It’s really just amazing the job Preller has done. We’re talking about a guy who was facing serious scrutiny as recently as early 2020 and now, he’s being heralded as one of the best executives in the game. He’s managed to walk that fine line between ‘win-now’ and decimating his club’s farm system. In the past, that’s been a recipe for success. We’ll soon see if that will be the case this time around.