ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to break the news that star infielder Manny Machado had agreed to terms on a contract with the San Diego Padres. The 10-year, $300 million pact is the largest free agent contract in American sports history. San Diego already had one of the most highly touted farm systems in all of Major League Baseball, and now they hold a star presence.
The eyes of the baseball world are rightfully turning towards the other elite free agent, Bryce Harper. However, I want to keep my eyes on the Padres, and take a look at how their future now looks with one of the games biggest stars in the mix.
San Diego has an astonishing 10 prospects in the Top 100, and out of those guys, MLB.com lists an ETA of 2019 for five of those guys, The first two, infielders Fernando Tatis Jr and Luis Urias, are obvious. Catcher Francisco Mejia, right hander Chris Paddack, and left hander Logan Allen finish out the list. Mejia is another obvious one, rising through the Cleveland Indians ranks before being acquired in the Brad Hand trade. The Padres also have southpaw Mackenzie Gore, #15 on the Top 100, who holds an ETA of 2021 and is highly regarded around the league.
The Padres may or may not bring Tatis Jr with them to Petco Park for Opening Day. The biggest question for the Padres is where these two will play. Tatis Jr is listed as a shortstop by MLB.com, and Machado prefers to play shortstop over third base. I do believe the Padres will acquiesce to Machardo’s shortstop preference, and move Tatis Jr to third. For now, second base will be occupied by veteran Ian Kinsler, and first belongs to Eric Hosmer. After Kinsler leaves, the Padres will slot Urias at second and that will be his spot for the future.
The outfield for now will consist of Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, and Manuel Margot. Margot is another guy who is highly regarded around the league. The biggest need for the Padres, now and in the future, is pitching. They have very little in the way of quality pitching. Left hander Joey Lucchesi had the best ERA among starters for the Friars, with a 4.08 clip. He is only 25, so room for improvement is there.
The guys coming up through the system should help remedy this situation. Gore, Paddack, Allen, Luis Patino, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez, and Ryan Weathers should provide the team with quality pitching, even if they don’t all pan out as hoped.
The Padres are taking a major gamble that their top prospects will all live up to their potential. Even if you don’t take that into consideration, the Padres have taken a major gamble. Machado is one of the more polarizing figures in the sport, and his postseason antics left some sour tastes in people’s mouths. Still, you cannot deny the Padres could be a major force in the National League if everything goes according to plan.