Grading Padres' offseason decisions after first month of 2024 season

So, how are we doing?
San Diego Padres pitcher Dylan Cease
San Diego Padres pitcher Dylan Cease / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres may have had the most turbulent and active offseason of any team in Major League Baseball. Sure, the Los Angeles Dodgers made some big acquisitions, and the San Francisco Giants made some late-spring additions that seemed to move the needle, but no team had more comings and goings than the Friars.

Already about a month into the 2024 season, some of the Padres' offseason decisions are beginning to pay dividends. Others curious moves may seem to be even more questionable than when they first made.

The Friars pulled off some blockbuster trades and had some significant free agent additions and subtractions. Let's put a grade on some of the best (and worst) offseason decisions A.J. Preller and Co. made this past winter.

Grading Padres' offseason decisions after first month of 2024 season

Padres trade Juan Soto to the Yankees
Grade: B-

This was certainly a quantity over quality type of trade, wasn't it? There's no way you can replace a generational talent like Juan Soto. But the Padres have so much money tied up in the likes of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Xander Bogaerts, that a long-term contract extension wasn't in the cards.

The Friars were able to get a decent return given that Soto only had one year left on his current deal. Michael King looks like a fixture in the Padres' rotation for at least the next two seasons, while the Padres also were able to land a pair of arms in Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez.

The biggest acquisition, however, might have been Drew Thorpe. The right-handed pitching prospect was ultimately dealt to the Chicago White Sox as part of the return for Dylan Cease. That trade doesn't happen without Thorpe being part of it, so that has to count for something. Losing Soto's bat hurts, but the Padres got a decent return.

Padres trade for White Sox starter Dylan Cease
Grade: B+

If Cease continues pitching the way he has through the first month of the 2024 season, this could become an A+ rather quickly. But Friars fans should be cautiously optimistic following the right-hander's start to the season.

Cease was a Cy Young finalist in 2022 and is on track to be part of the conversation this season as well. The Padres gave up some noteworthy pieces in exchange for Cease, but those results will have to be tabled until a later date. The White Sox's package was loaded with prospects, not major leaguers, so Chicago will have to wait a few years to fully evaluate what they got in return.

For now, the trade looks like a home run for the Padres. Cease is not a one-year rental (he's under control through next season as well), which makes the prospect package sent to the South Side a little easier to swallow.

Padres add several arms to the bullpen
Grade: C

It's hard to give the Padres any higher than a C based on how the front office revamped the relief corps. Gone are Nick Martinez, Josh Hader, Tim Hill and Scott Barlow, and in their place is Woo-Suk Go (optioned to Double-A), Yuki Matsui, and Wandy Peralta.

The biggest bright spot in the Friars bullpen has been the ascension of Robert Suarez. The veteran has taken on the role of closer and done quite well. But San Diego's bullpen is a downgrade from where it was in 2023, and it could become a bigger problem as the season progresses.

But hey, at least they didn't spend on Hader, who looks terrible right now.

Padres add Jackson Merrill to the Opening Day roster
Grade: A

Adding Merrill to the starting lineup has been a terrific upgrade for the Padres so far this season. The 20-year-old has yet to look overwhelmed, despite playing a foreign position and skipping over Triple-A.

Merrill has been everything the Padres could have hoped for and helped San Diego fill the hole in the outfield without resorting to grabbing a has-been free agent. The Friars have almost an entire roster made up of shortstops, but it seems to be working for them right now.

Padres flip-flop Xander Bogaerts and Ha-Seong Kim
Grade: C

This could have waited, right? Then there's question of whether or not it was actually the correct decision. Flipping Bogaerts and Kim heading into spring training seemed like a rushed decision. Kim won a Gold Glove in utility role last season and seemed quite comfortable at second base. Bogaerts isn't the athlete he was three years ago, but he can still field shortstop.

So far this change has yielded mixed results, and with Kim on a short-term deal while Bogaerts is under contract for another 10 years, this seems like a knee-jerk reaction that wasn't necessarily received well. There's still time for this to play out, but it'll look rather foolish if Bogaerts is back at shortstop in 2025.

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