The San Diego Padres are ready to unleash a lethal combination of star power, consistency, and clutch performance in the 2023 season. After knocking off the mighty Dodgers and moving to the NLCS, the Padres improved significantly.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is going to make his triumphant return to the club, Juan Soto will get an entire offseason as the star player in San Diego, and Xander Bogaerts is locked into the shortstop spot in Southern California for the next decade.
The Padres' roster construction (much to the ire of Dick Monfort) has helped them land several of the game's marquee names. However, the group is slightly top-heavy, making the decisions on how to shape the back-end of the roster more important than ever before.
The Padres need to come out and nail it with their Opening Day roster, as every game could be important in a division that features the always-lethal Dodgers and motivated Giants. Which players will make the cut, and who may start the season in El Paso?
San Diego Padres 2023 Opening Day Roster projections
Catcher (2): Austin Nola, Luis Campusano
Jorge Alfaro has not been retained, leaving the catching duties to the veteran Nola and the young Campusano. Nola is not going to be a transformative hitter, but he is more than serviceable as a starter.
Infielders (5): Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim, Matt Carpenter
Machado and Bogaerts will man the left side of the diamond, while Kim brings his defensive excellence to second base and Cronenworth shifts to first to complete arguably the game's best infield. Carpenter is a quality veteran slugger who can DH and come off the bench.
Outfielders (5): Fernando Tatis Jr, Juan Soto, Trent Grisham, Jose Azocar, Nelson Cruz
Tatis and Soto will be the corner outfielders, as their bats demand their inclusion in the lineup every day. Azocar will beat out Adam Engel for the final spot, while Grisham's defense and Cruz's power guarantee them spots on the roster.
Starting Pitchers (5): Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, Nick Martinez, Seth Lugo
Darvish, Musgrove, and Snell are a quality top-end, but there are questions outside of those three. Martinez and Lugo making the move to full-time starters may determine how high the ceiling is for this Padres team.
Relief Pitchers (8): Josh Hader, Robert Suarez, Nabil Crismatt, Luis Garcia, Steven Wilson, Tim Hill, Adrian Morejon, Drew Pomeranz
San Diego could choose to carry eight relievers due to their uncertain starting rotation. Hader is a star, and Suarez is on a five-year contract. Hard-throwing righties like Crismatt and Garcia along with long-relief lefties like Morejon and Pomeranz complete this octet.
The Padres will open the season with a four-game home series against the Rockies and a two-game set against the Diamondbacks before taking on the Braves in Atlanta.