Dec. 31, 2020

The Pitching Friars

The Pitching Friars

The San Diego Padres went into the 2020 offseason riding a high that got them to the National League Division Series for the first time since 2006. Since the 2007 season, the Padres have had only one season where the team was above .500, and that was in 2010 when the team won 90 games but barely missed the playoffs. Losing and heartache have been the norm for Padres fans since that 2010 season, but 10 years later, the Padres are back in the mix to start contending in the National League West and overthrow their rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

The Padres have been preparing for this moment for quite some time by building this team up with a farm system ranked in the top 5 since 2017. Through this farm system of elite young talent, the Padres could go out and sign Manny Machado to that 10 yr/$300 Million contract in 2019. This signing made the Padres a legitimate contender, especially when you pair Machado with the young phenom Fernado Tatis Jr., Wil Myers, and Eric Hosmer. The Machado signing gave Padres fans a glimmer of hope moving into the 2019 season, or so they thought.

The 2019 season was not what the Friar faithful had in mind, going 70-92, 36 games out of first place, and their manager being fired with 8 games left in the season. It, not the season the Padres were hoping for. After the 2019 season, the Padres had found their new manager in Jayce Tingler, hoping that he can get this over the hump and into the postseason. The Padres were heading in the right direction but just needed a few key pieces to set the tone.

Kicking things off in 2020, the Padres managed to come to terms and sign pitchers Zach Davies, Dinelson Lamet, and Kirby Yates. The Padres also had Drew Pomeranz. This would start in the right direction, and then COVID-19 hit, and the Padres were left wondering if there would be a season. During the stoppage, the Padres remained active, signing players, making trades, and even releasing players to be a season in 2020. 

When Opening Day finally arrived, the Padres were ready to take charge and contend for the division title. Being dubbed “ Slam Diego'', the Padres went on a tear by hitting back-to-back grand slams in consecutive days, and the baseball world went nuts. Fernando Tatis Jr. felt the need to apologize after taking a 3-0 bases-loaded fastball and sending it to the moon against the Texas Rangers. I personally think he should not apologize for being a competitor. I mean, when you get a 3-0 fastball right down the middle, what else are you supposed to do? Wave at it? Padres were on to something special and were in prime position to make a postseason push with the trade deadline approaching.

On July 30th, the Padres made a trade and brought Mitch Moreland from the Boston Red Sox. This was key since the Padres needed an LH bat, and Moreland has always been consistent, even during his time with the Texas Rangers. On July 31st, the Padres went out and traded for Mike Clevenger. Clevenger, a dominant but effective pitcher with the Cleveland Indians, was headed to the Padres to help the rotation. That “new car” smell that was Clevenger was gone due to an elbow injury that has resulted in Tommy John surgery which will keep him out all of the 2021 season. With Clevenger out, the Padres had to rely on their bats to get them into the postseason, to which they did and were able to make it to the NLDS to face their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. We all know what happens next, but it sets up the offseason to which the Padres will make a lot of noise. 

We all had a feeling that the offseason was going to move at a slow pace. Teams were going to hesitate to make moves with the uncertainty of there being a season in 2021. Top free agents George Springer, Trevor Bauer, and JT Realmuto have still yet to be signed. The Padres, on the other hand, were going out and making moves like it was nobody's business.

In 24 hours, the Padres had traded away a total of 9 players for Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Victor Caratini (Darvish’s personal catcher). The most interesting thing about these trades is that the Padres did not give up their top 5 prospects to acquire these players. Truly remarkable by the Padres front office. 

The next remarkable feat by the Padres is that Darvish and Snell will be under team control for the next couple of seasons. Add Clevenger in the mix in 2022, along with Lamet, and throw in Chris Paddack for good measure. The Padres will have the most dominant rotation in baseball for the next few seasons. Oh, and throw the offensive power in Tatis Jr, Machado, Tommy Pham, Myers, and a bullpen anchored by Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan. Lots to get excited about as we approach the New Year.

As we near the end of 2020, the San Diego Padres are on the fast track to win now, and with the signings of Snell and Darvish, Padres fans have something to get excited about in 2021. This team is poised for greatness and is willing to trade away some pieces in the farm system to achieve that. When Opening Day 2021 gets here, all eyes will be on the San Diego Padres as they make that run for a World Series Championship.