A.J. Preller still believes in Manny Machado despite rough 2023 season with the San Diego Padres

2023 has been tough on San Diego Padres' star third baseman Manny Machado, but GM A.J. Preller isn't losing hope.
Jun 27, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado (13) in
Jun 27, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado (13) in / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 season hasn't been easy for San Diego Padres' star third baseman Manny Machado. Not by any stretch.

Signed to a second massive contract by the Padres this past offseason, Machado's offensive output has fallen far below expectations. The soon-to-be 31-year-old All-Star has just a .678 OPS (89 OPS+) in 2023, a startling drop off for a player with a career .827 OPS and 124 OPS+, respectively.

And though Machado's lack of success this season hasn't been entirely his own doing (he suffered a broken bone in his hand back in May), it's still a major reason why San Diego hasn't reached their full potential almost halfway through the year.

Manny Machado has struggled in 2023, but San Diego Padres' GM A.J. Preller believes he can still turn it around

But don't worry, says Padres' GM A.J. Preller, who voiced confidence in his third baseman, among other items, during a recent interview with Ben & Woods on Audacy's 97.3 FM The Fan.

"Obviously he had the hand fracture and the finger fracture… [but] Manny plays. I think, you know, all players, you play 162 games, you're gonna have different things that you play through. But again... Manny Machado’s one of the best players in the game of baseball. I think over the course of the last three seasons, for us, he's been an MVP-caliber player. I think for us... I fully expect him to be able to [return to form]."

A.J. Preller

Machado has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt from fans, the media and evidently, the Padres' front office given how well he's produced in recent years. Sometimes, players have down years, and perhaps 2023 is simply one of those for Machado.

You also have to credit Machado for playing through what is likely a painful injury, especially as it pertains to gripping a bat while managing a hand/finger fracture.

Ultimately, however, much of what the San Diego Padres will (or won't) accomplish this season hinges greatly on the type of production they can sustain from their star third baseman in the second half of 2023. If A.J. Preller's recent comments are any indication, the arrow could once again be pointing up for this team.