So far through the offseason, the most improved teams are the Chicago White Sox and the San Diego Padres. It’s safe to say that both of these teams have surprised the baseball universe and made trades and signings that have improved their ball clubs. This post will look at if the Padres and if the moves they have made so far in the offseason will give them an opportunity to compete with the Dodgers and Giants in the N.L. West.
The first big move they made was acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers at the Winter Meetings, a deal which did not get completed until this week. The second move they made was trading for Outfielder Will Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays. They also made a deal with the Oakland Athletics, who I cannot figure out what they are doing, to acquire catcher Derek Norris. The last big move, which happened today, was acquiring power hitting outfielder Justin Upton. All of these major moves have completely changed the roster and the outlook of a team that finished 8 games under .500.
Kemp, Myers, Norris, and Upton will add a lot to a team that finished last in the big leagues in runs scored (535). Kemp is the big player that was acquired because he has 6 years remaining on a deal that he signed with the Dodgers. The Dodgers sent 32 million dollars of the remaining 107 millions along with Kemp and could turn out to be a steal for the Padres. If Kemp can show any signs of the player that finished second in the MVP voting in 2011, it will indeed be a steal. Will Myers is another interesting story because he won the A.L. ROY in 2013 but missed most of the 2014 season with a wrist injury. He still has 6 years on team control and will get the Padres some much needed power in their lineup. Norris is a 25 year old catcher who was an all-star in 2014. His offensive WAR was 3.2 but his defensive WAR was .5 so maybe a position switch is in Norris’s future. The only questionable move for the Padres was trading for Justin Upton. Upton will be a free agent at the end of the 2014 season and it will be difficult for the Padres to keep him in San Diego. So I ask, are the Padres trying to win in 2015?
One key aspect about this team is that with all of these moves, San Diego did not have to trade any of their talented pitchers that are in the big leagues. Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy are still a part of a rotation that had a 3.55 earned run average in big Petco Park. With all the additions on offense, there is a good possibility that the Padres pitchers could be pitching with leads rather than trailing by one run and having to be perfect.
The N.L. West is still the Dodgers division to lose but the Padres have made a huge step in the right direction towards being competitive. The Giants are likely to take a step back after winning the World Series due to a sketchy rotation and losing their third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The Diamondbacks and Rockies both appear to be rebuilding their teams. The off-season is still young but the Padres have made vital moves towards helping them make a playoff push in 2015.