5 questions facing the Padres as spring training approaches

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Will Jake Cronenworth rebound for Padres in 2024?

Jake Cronenworth had a disappointing 2023 season. He hit .229 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI. His supporters suspect the poor hitting campaign was due to Cronenworth switching positions (second to first base). Despite all the extra pregame batting practice, he could never get on track at the plate.

Cronenworth was quietly (per reports) made available on the trade market earlier this offseason. It was never clear if the Padres were close to consummating a deal. But if he can regain his stroke as a run-producing left-handed hitter, it may force postseason contenders to pursue Cronenworth before this summer’s trade deadline if the Pads are still open to moving him.

With the departure of Soto from the lineup, the Padres can ill afford to have Cronenworth struggle offensively in 2024. Hopefully, he can rebound with a temporary move back to second base until Machado proves he can return to the defensive side of the ball.

Who is the Padres' closer for the 2024 season?

The departure of Josh Hader via free agency has created an opening in the Padres bullpen at the closer position. Robert Suarez, Yuki Matsui, and Woo-Suk Go are the leading candidates for the job heading into spring training. But none have a proven track record in the majors.

Suarez has struggled with his command late in close games. He seems better suited to pitch out of the setup role. Matsui and Go have been successful closers in Nippon Professional Baseball and KBO, respectively. But no one can predict how they will perform until each reliever gets on a mound and pitches in save situations.

Expectations are high as Suarez, Matsui, and Go are projected to become key pieces of the Padres bullpen. However, concerns should also be high, as no one knows what to expect from each pitcher.