Bleacher Report recently ranked the 10 Biggest Nightmare Contracts by 2026. Unfortunately for Padres fans, four of San Diego's core players were among those on the list. Jake Cronenworth and Fernando Tatis Jr. were considered honorable mentions, while Xander Bogaerts (No. 4) and Manny Machado (No. 1) were among the Top 10.
It's true, the San Diego Padres have invested a boatload of money over the past few seasons. Whether it's snagging some of the top free agents (Bogaerts and Machado) or retaining their own (Cronenworth and Tatis), the Friars have been big spenders for the past couple years.
And while Bleacher Report's Top 10 list paints a very bleak picture for Padres fans, the harsh reality is that it's even worse than it seems.
Padres nightmare scenario is even worse than it seems
It's not just the money that's attached to these gargantuan contracts, but it's the amount of years that the team has invested. Xander Bogaerts will be receiving $25 million per year until 2033. Manny Machado is signed through 2033 as well, but his salary has an average annual value (AAV) of nearly $32 million.
Not only that, but the Padres sold the farm in 2022 in order to trade for Juan Soto. The Friars surrendered C.J. Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Robert Hassell III and more for one-plus season of Soto. The Padres jettisoned Soto this winter in a seven-player deal with the New York Yankees, but didn't get back anything close to what they gave up.
Only Drew Thorpe is considered a Top 100 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Abrams, Hassell, and Gore were all Top 100 prospects in 2022. And while prospects are just that until they prove themselves at the major league level, the cost control that comes with a young player like Gore or Abrams is vital to offsetting the contract demands of players like Machado, Tatis and Bogaerts.
Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts' contracts will not age well
There's also the age factor to consider. Both Machado and Bogaerts are on the wrong side of 30 and have 10 years left on their current deals. The pair produced a combined fWAR 7.9 last season. That's nothing to sneeze at, but their contracts virtually demand All-Star selections and MVP votes annually. Neither Machado nor Bogaerts received any MVP consideration last season.
There are several recent examples of players making enormous salaries who've failed to live up to expectations. Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera were all superstars in their own right and signed mega-deals. But eventually those contract became an albatross hanging over their respective organizations, and those teams were unable to support their star's with talent.
And the problem only gets worse from there, because there aren't going to be any takers on the trade market. Not right now, at least. Bogaerts, who had a fine season by most standards, had his worst season statistically since 2017. Machado, who didn't have a bad year, also put forth his worst statistical season since his first year in San Diego.
These massive contracts are part of the game, and for teams to truly to compete for championships, owners are going to have to shell out major money. But the Padres may be in over their head with these deals.
The Los Angeles Dodgers spent crazy amounts of money this offseason, and the Arizona Diamondbacks made necessary additions through free agency to pair with their young core. The Padres are, on paper, the third-best team in their own division heading into 2024.
What started out as a dream to win the World Series has turned into a nightmare for San Diego. The Friars' championship aspirations have already taken a hit this winter with the departure of Soto. They need to strike while the iron is hot, because very soon, these gargantuan contracts will hamstring San Diego for quite awhile.