The San Diego Padres' offseason has been a disappointment of epic proportions to say the least. After being one of the most aggressive teams in baseball the last few years, the passing of Peter Seidler and the dumpster fire that was the 2023 season has the Padres looking to trim payroll and with an uncertain outlook going forward.
Not all of the news is bad with the Padres at least. They will remain competitive every night thanks to a talented roster that has Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Ha-Seong Kim, and Yu Darvish next season. However, free agent losses from their pitching staff and trading Juan Soto are going to be felt in very real ways in 2024 especially with San Diego still looking to cut back and certainly not looking to be buyers this offseason.
Unfortunately, Padres fans may need to brace for yet another loss as San Diego is clearly shopping Jake Cronenworth around this offseason with several high profile teams in play.
Could the Padres really trade Jake Cronenworth away this offseason?
The 2023 season was a particularly rough one for Cronenworth as he was transitioned to first base and subsequently posted the worst OPS of his career. That said, when he is right, Cronenworth is one of the better infielders in the game as he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2020 and made back to back All-Star Games after that.
The Padres certainly believed in him as they gave Cronenworth a seven year, $80 million extension early in 2023. If he can return to form, that deal will end up looking like a bargain, but the financial commitment on San Diego's end is significant and Cronenworth could fetch a haul on the trade market given that he is under team control through 2023 at a reasonable rate.
As for what teams could be in play for Cronenworth at this stage of the offseason, that is more of a grey area. The Blue Jays were mentioned as a landing spot this offseason and that remains true even after they signed Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The Tigers and Mets also make some sense as the Mets are looking for guys that can help them in the long-term and Detroit needs offense, although Baez's presence on the Tigers' roster complicates that plan.
Given Cronenworth's trade value, San Diego would do well to not force a deal and wait for a strong offer. Former All-Star position players with lots of team control are a rarity on the trade market and the Padres need to extract that value. Cronenworth is only making $7 million this year which should mean that if the team doesn't get what they see as a fair offer for him, keeping Jake around for another year even if he isn't in the long-term plans may be wise.