The hits just keep on coming for the San Diego Padres this offseason. While the Friars addressed one of their biggest problems with a rather modest signing on Monday after agreeing to terms with Jurickson Profar, San Diego let one of the best free agent sluggers head to a division rival.
Jorge Soler, arguably the best bat remaining on the open market aside from Cody Bellinger, signed a three-year, $42 million contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. Soler will now be slotted in the middle of the Giants lineup, and likely be a thorn in the Padres side for the next three years.
While Soler's outfield defense is horrific, he would've been the perfect fit for the Padres vacancy as the team's designated hitter. Instead, now the Friars are left to sift through the rubble that is 40-year-old Joey Votto and Brandon Belt, who contemplated retirement this past season, in order to fill the DH role for 2024.
Jorge Soler contract with SF Giants represents big missed opportunity for Padres
As it stands right now, the Padres have found a temporary solution in left field with the addition of Profar. And while the starting rotation certainly cannot be neglected, San Diego lost their most impactful bat from a year ago after trading Juan Soto to the New York Yankees. No offense, but Matthew Batten and Jose Azocar aren't going to scare the opposing pitcher.
But if the Padres had inked to Soler to the same $42 million contract he signed with the Giants, the Friars would've still been well below last season's payroll. According to FanGraphs, the Padres estimated payroll heading into 2024 is sitting at $159 million. They're going to need to spend more in order to keep pace in the loaded NL West.
The only drawback to signing Soler is the fact that he's a right-handed hitter. Without Soto, Trent Grisham, and Matt Carpenter in the lineup, Jake Cronenworth represents the only left-handed bat the Friar faithful can expect to see in the everyday lineup. Profar is a switch-hitter, though he should not be considered an everyday player.
Apparently it's back to the drawing board for the Padres front office. The Friars' options are getting less and less as more and more teams begin spring training this week. At this point, AJ Preller's probably got Daniel Vogelbach on line one.