SI predicts Padres will sign star power-hitting first baseman
The San Diego Padres have spent the last few years writing all sorts of checks in the offseason to build a winner. A.J. Preller made sure that Robert Suarez was retained thanks to a hefty contract, but there is no way that one relief pitcher is all San Diego will come away with.
San Diego has some solid offensive infrastructure right now, but they need one more impact bat if they want to be considered a team that is just as good as the Los Angeles Dodgers. With the farm system depleted due to trades, that move could come in free agency.
The Padres will likely consider alternatives to Josh Bell at first base, as the offensive pop he showed in Washington never really translated to San Diego. That confluence of circumstances could lead San Diego to a player that stands out as a perfect addition for this club.
In trying to predict where the top 50 free agents will sign, Sports Illustrated stated that the Padres are going to sign Anthony Rizzo away from the New York Yankees to play first base. If Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim stay at second base and shortstop, moving Fernando Tatis Jr. to the outfield, Rizzo would be an ideal power threat at first.
Will the San Diego Padres bring back Anthony Rizzo?
Letting Rizzo go was one of the biggest mistakes the Padres made in the last decade. After acquiring him in the Adrian Gonzalez trade with Boston and watching him struggle through a slow start (.141 average, one home run), Rizzo was traded for Andrew Cashner. That move helped the Cubs break their infamous World Series drought.
Over the last two years, Rizzo has played solid defense at first and taken advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch. In 179 games as a Yankee, Rizzo hit 40 home runs and posted a 125 OPS+. While the team struggled offensively in the playoffs, Rizzo was one of the few who pulled their weight.
Rizzo is assuredly seeking more than the $16 million AAV from his previous contract, so he is not going to come cheap. That right-field porch is calling his name, and the new shift restrictions will make it even easier for him to drive in runs when San Diego needs him.
With Bell a free agent, Preller might need to dig deep into his pockets and get one more big name in the fold to really go all-in on making the Padres a World Series favorite in 2023. A four-headed hydra of Rizzo, Tatis, Manny Machado, and Juan Soto playing every day would be a nightmare for opposing pitchers.