Right now, the San Diego Padres are in the middle of a transitional period that has started off rather painfully. No team lost more from their roster this offseason than the Padres, as the team is still reeling from the death of owner Peter Seidler and a payroll crunch of epic proportions (the latter of which is partially a problem of their own making).
Most rational human beings would expect San Diego to be a worse team in 2023 as a result. They lost the reigning NL Cy Young in Blake Snell, arguably the best reliever in baseball in Josh Hader, and all-world hitter Juan Soto, and their replacements range from speculative to non-existent.
That doesn't mean that fans should count out AJ Preller, however. Preller has his flaws, but no one can say that he is the type of GM that is going to stand pat and just let things happen to him. In the coming weeks, we will know if Preller is looking to find a way to help this team compete in the short-term, or try to lay the groundwork for the Padres in the future.
With that in mind, here is a look at some more surprising moves that the Padres could make in the lead up to Opening Day.
Trading Joe Musgrove isn't outside the realm of possibility
Okay Padres fans, please put your pitchforks down. Yes, trading away a starter the caliber of Musgrove sounds pretty dubious for a team that already lost three starters from their rotation to free agency. It also wouldn't send the best signal for the future, given that the Padres extended Musgrove for five years only to hypothetically trade him a year and a half later.
However, the Padres' reality is that, in order to continue to overhaul their roster and make it sustainable, they need more cheap and talented youth while creating some payroll space. They do have some prospect help coming at some positions, but the system isn't overly deep in high end talent and, right now, their payroll is where they want it to sit, without much wiggle room.
If San Diego were to trade Musgrove, the return would be substantial. He is making $20 million a year, which isn't nothing, but the Padres would still have no shortage of suitors willing to give up big-time prospect packages in exchange for four years of Musgrove's production at that rate. Moving him would also clear $20 million a year off their books that could be spread out to improve the roster and help offset the rising arbitration costs that the Padres are going to have if their young guys work out.