The San Diego Padres actually had some good news this morning with word that they are on the verge of signing Korean reliever Woo Suk Go. Beyond a couple minor moves to add to the roster, the Padres have had to sit back and watch their division rivals go wild this offseason (or at least try to in the case of the Giants) while the team gets their payroll under control.
The one saving grace for the Padres is that even with the loss of Juan Soto, Blake Snell, and Josh Hader among others to free agency, this is still a pretty good ballclub. In particular, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. are dangerous enough hitters to take games over by themselves. Unfortunately, the Padres got less than desirable news regarding Machado as his elbow injury is likely to limit him to DH duties to start the 2024 season.
Machado's elbow issues could be a long-term concern for the Padres
Machado dealt with the elbow injury last season and it ultimately forced him out of the field for September before he finally underwent surgery to repair his extensor tendon in October. The surgery is definitely not the same as having Tommy John surgery and the timeline for returning to action is much shorter, but there are still some real concerns about Machado's long-term health now.
As good as Machado is in the field, losing him for any amount of time is going to be a loss in the short-term. It is unclear exactly how long Machado will be forced to DH, but that there is any uncertainty about his ability to play the field going into spring training is definitely not the best position to be in. At the very least, Ha-Seong Kim should be able to slide over in the dirt to minimize the loss for now.
Looking further out than 2024, Machado's injury history is getting a teensy bit spooky. He already has multiple knee surgeries on his resume and now with his elbow giving him problems, it is fair to wonder how long he will be able to stay a highly productive defender. From 2027-2033, San Diego is going to be paying Manny $35 million a year. If he is already breaking down now at 31 years old, those last few years of his deal could be uniquely brutal if Machado can't figure out how to stay healthy.