The 2023 MLB season isn't over yet. Not even close. But it's probably fair to say that this year's version of the San Diego Padres didn't materialize when compared to the lofty expectations set at beginning of the campaign.
After adding Xander Bogaerts to an already stacked, albeit top-heavy lineup, the Friars expected to run roughshod over the National League with their star hitters, veteran rotation and lockdown closer. That ... hasn't happened, and though the club still has a path to postseason contention in 2023, it's shrinking by the day.
So while the focus may still be on 2023 for San Diego, it wouldn't be outlandish to start thinking about next season either as the Padres continue to languish below .500 as of August 10.
Here are two reasons to believe in this team realizing their potential next year, and two reasons why a repeat of 2023 could be on the table.
The San Diego Padres will be competitive in 2024 because their roster will still be loaded with star power
A lineup with the aforementioned Bogaerts, along with Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto (assuming he's not traded in his walk year) should speak for itself. That hasn't manifested in 2023, but this assemblage of star power is tough to come by in sports, let alone in baseball. 2024 should see a full year of Tatis Jr. and a return to more career norms for the others.
On the pitching side, Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish will be returning, while Blake Snell and Josh Hader will be hitting the open market. How the Padres opt to handle the latter two will determine a lot about their 2024 chances, but if they retain at least one of Snell or Hader, they can more easily pivot to a replacement for the other.
Overall, this roster should still be good enough to be competitive next year, and given the record payroll that's being run by owner Peter Seidler (which will be unsustainable in future years), it better be.