Padres’ biggest roster investments have the future looking grim despite solid 2024

There's reason to be concerned about the amount of money the Padres have locked into long-term deals.
San Diego Padres v Cincinnati Reds
San Diego Padres v Cincinnati Reds / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The Padres had an interesting offseason. With a mandate to cut payroll, they jettisoned Juan Soto to the Yankees and let all of their big 2023 contributors walk in free agency. Unfortunately, the players brought in to fill the gaps created in the offseason haven't played up to par.

Michael King was part of the return in the Soto deal and has had mixed results with the Pads. The 3.82 ERA looks solid, but the underlying metrics suggest otherwise. His strikeout rate is down quite a bit from his peak two years ago and he's currently walking over 10% of batters. Unfortunately, King's 4.59 FIP suggests there's more negative regression to come.

Woo-Suk Go was signed in the offseason to a two-year contract but struggled in spring training and was traded to Miami in the Luis Arraez deal. The righty was optioned to the minors prior to the start of the season and has yet to appear in a major league game with either organization. He was just let go by Miami, too.

But more distressing for Padres fans is the fact that the purported stars on this team are not playing at the level necessary to challenge the Dodgers in the NL West. And unfortunately, there's a lot of money locked into a group of players who aren't getting it done on the field.

Padres' highest-paid players are not doing enough to lead team to success

Joe Musgrove has been a shell of himself, pitching to a 5.66 ERA while working around bad injury luck. Worse still, Yu Darvish just went back on the IL with a groin strain. Darvish has had better results than last year but his 23.1% strikeout rate would be the lowest of his career. At 37, Darvish clearly seems to be at the back end of his career, but the Padres are locked into another four years with his contract.

Xander Bogaerts looked awful before fracturing his shoulder and is now expected to miss at least two months. He'd posted an abysmal .265 OBP prior to the injury, which would be bottom-five among qualified hitters. He notably has 10 years and more than $250 million left on his contract.

Based on his previous success, it wasn't a crazy idea to sign Manny Machado to a monster contract extension after 2022. However, he has not lived up to that money. Machado has struggled to a .249/.312/.376 line with very little power and noticeably worse defense. And like with Bogaerts, there are 10 years left on Machado's contract. Machado's current injury troubles have popped up at the worst possible time.

And then there's Fernando Tatis Jr. While he's been "good," he certainly hasn't been "$340 million good." His .806 OPS just isn't anything special and his slugging is way down. We know he's working his way back from injuries and a suspension, but the Padres need more from him.

The Padres have a lot of money locked up in these long term contracts. They've already committed nearly $160 million to nine players in 2027, most of whom will be in their mid-to-late 30s. With this group of players getting older and already looking questionable, it's hard to blame anyone for thinking the long-term outlook for this team is quite grim.