Padres writer has surprise pick for team's biggest offseason disappointment
The San Diego Padres have one goal in mind in 2023: win a World Series.
They fell two steps short of that goal in 2022, but the fact they made it to the NLCS without one of the faces of baseball in Fernando Tatis Jr., who's making incredible strides in his recovery from multiple surgeries, is a huge building block for what's to come.
After signing Xander Bogaerts and Nelson Cruz as free agents, the Padres might just boast the best lineup in the sport.
The pitching rotation could use another starter and bullpen arm, but the presence Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove -- coupled with Nick Martinez and the arrival of Seth Lugo -- allow the front office some flexibility in terms of letting the market settle before finding the last piece(s) to the puzzle.
Outside of failing to add another starter, there isn't much Padres fans can complain about as far as the team's offseason. Missing out on Jose Abreu stings, as does whiffing on Trea Turner, and Aaron Judge after AJ Preller made a last-ditch offer for the Yankees superstar.
What exactly is the Padres' biggest offseason disappointment, though? In the eyes of The Athletic's Dennis Lin, it's not signing catcher Christian Vazquez.
Will the Padres regret not signing Christian Vazquez?
Here's what Lin said of San Diego failing to net Vazquez:
"For San Diego, seeing Christian Vazquez sign elsewhere was one of the bigger disappointments of the offseason. Vázquez could have formed a solid veteran duo with Nola, or allowed the team to trade (Austin) Nola or (Luis) Campusano. (Campusano, who has drawn limited trade interest, does have minor-league options left.) Time will tell whether the Padres should have been more aggressive in bidding for Vázquez — the 32-year-old got three years and $30 million from Minnesota — but the catching situation remains a bit shaky. This spring should be a pivotal time for Campusano and his progress."
Lin's answer came in response to a question about Campusano's development, or lack thereof, and whether he's a lock to be traded. Lin referred to Campusano as one of the organization's most polarizing players, and it's easy to see why given his raw talent, but slow-moving refinement both at the plate and behind the dish.
Nola, meanwhile, is a grizzled vet who's earned the respect of the coaching staff and pitching rotation (starters and all), but he doesn't bring the hitting upside a team with championship aspirations likely desires to be an everyday starter.
That said, if Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts, Jake Cronenworth, and Nelson Cruz carry their weight the offense should have no trouble putting up runs. And what if Trent Grisham rebounds from a lackluster 2022, and Ha-Seong Kim sticks around and builds on his breakout season?
Again, Nola and Campusano could form a worthwhile platoon, but it's understandable why Lin pegged failing to sign Vazquez as San Diego's biggest offseason disappointment. While not an elite catcher, he brings the best of both worlds as a terrific game manager who'll hit .270 with close to 10 home runs and 50 or more RBI.