The San Diego Padres are a team in an uncomfortable situation. We know they went all in on 2023 hoping to win on the backs of a monstrous payroll, and that failed spectacularly. While money seemed to be no issue last offseason, the Padres are now a team in financial limbo expected to shed payroll throughout the winter.
Shedding payroll almost certainly means San Diego won't have the funds necessary to pursue some of their free agents like Blake Snell and Josh Hader. It also means a player like Juan Soto who is due a boatload of money in his final arbitration year and is going to get one of the largest contracts in MLB history next offseason, could be on the move.
While money appears to be a very real obstacle, the Padres won't be entering a rebuild. Most of their core is locked in for a very long time, so this team will want to win. One way for them to do that could be through the trade market. They'd have to give up some of their prospect capital, but can get players on cheaper contracts with more control by executing trades. These players all make some sort of sense for A.J. Preller to pursue.
1 trade candidate from every NL West team that the Padres should consider
Arizona Diamondbacks: Joe Mantiply
Trading within the division is always tough, especially when it'd be a huge trade. For that reason, a guy like Joe Mantiply could make sense for Arizona. The Padres need bullpen help especially with Hader on his way out, and Mantiply could fill in as the primary lefty out of the bullpen in place of Tim Hill who really struggled this past season.
Colorado Rockies: Austin Gomber
Before you come screaming at me about his 5.50 ERA, Austin Gomber had a 3.68 ERA in his 12 starts away from Coors Field this past season. With that in mind, taking a chance on him at pitcher-friendly Petco Park could make some sense, especially because he'd cost next to nothing to acquire.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Ryan Yarbrough
The Dodgers are going to pursue some of the top free agent starting pitchers on the market and will also be looking to give their young starters a chance to be a part of their rotation. Ryan Yarbrough is neither a high-end starter or a young arm. He could be another guy San Diego looks to place at the back of their rotation or even work out of the bullpen in a long relief role.
San Francisco Giants: Joey Bart
The Giants really don't have many realistic intriguing options, so Joey Bart is who we're going with. Luis Campusano earned at least a part-time role behind the dish for 2024 thanks to his great play down the stretch, but San Diego doesn't have a backup catcher. Brett Sullivan is not going to cut it. Taking a chance on a former top prospect like Joey Bart could make sense as the Giants will give the full reigns to Patrick Bailey behind the dish.