When it became apparent that the San Diego Padres were going to have to cut payroll going into 2024, it was inevitable that fans and players were going to be upset. After taking the league by storm over the last several years with big time signings and extensions, the Padres look like a shadow of their former selves with big names leaving in free agency and the team has a very uncertain future in one of the league's toughest divisions.
No one can blame the Padres for lack of trying when it comes to making a run at a World Series title. If there was a big trade or free agent out there, they were at least in the middle of the conversation and they brought some big, big names in to try and seal the deal. Sadly, the 2023 season was a disaster on multiple fronts and with the passing of owner Peter Seidler and the team taking a huge financial hit last year, it appears that the Padres' window of contention may be closing for now.
Unfortunately, that means there could be some collateral damage with the Padres players that are still under contract. One such player is Yu Darvish who does not sound too pleased at all with the front office over the lack of moves the team has made this offseason especially when it comes to not pursuing Shohei Ohtani or Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Could Darvish's frustration with the Padres' offseason cause problems down the road?
When Darvish signed a six year extension with San Diego before the 2023 season, it was when the Padres were firmly in the conversation as one of the top teams in baseball. They had a strong pitching staff led by himself, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove and their lineup had MVP-level talents in Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. More importantly, they were staying aggressive in trying to keep pace with the other top contenders.
It is no wonder, then, that Darvish is upset with the direction of the franchise right now. When Ohtani was on the market, San Diego was never in the running. At his $700 million price point, that is not at all surprising and Darvish could have probably lived with that even though Ohtani did land with a hated division rival. However, the Padres not being involved at all in the bidding for Yamamoto seems to have been a bridge too far for Darvish to the point where he had at least one conversation with AJ Preller about the team's payroll situation.
Darvish shouldn't be surprised at what has happened. The combination of Seidler's death and the dumpster fire that was the 2023 season always meant that painful changes were always coming for the Padres. No team is just going to keep throwing tons of money at their problems indefinitely and that is doubly true for an organization in San Diego's position at the moment.
However, this could still be a big problem for San Diego. If Darvish is already expressing his frustrations with how this offseason has gone, odds are that he isn't alone on the roster in feeling that way. For guys like Darvish, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. who are committed to the team long-term, it is looking more and more like they are locked into a very different situation than when they signed. Time will tell as to how they react as well as how easy it is for San Diego to sign talent going forward, but it doesn't look great at the moment.