The San Diego Padres have put a whole lot of weight behind their plan to build a championship team from the ground up.
The agenda has been formulated around a dramatic accumulation of very young, raw talent with high upside, to flood the farm system, and provide a bevy of options at essentially every position in the coming years.
Much of this talent is coming from the international market; though there are also some serious domestic standouts.
The Padres have spent an unprecedented amount of nearly $80 million dollars since July to lay the groundwork for this plan. There is a level of risk involved with this strategy; with young prospects there is a moderate to high attrition rate for players traveling between the low levels of the minors to MLB. The potential upside is tremendous, though, and the team seem to be spreading chips all over the table. As these players rise through the ranks, the timetable for the rebuilding Padres to be at .500 is estimated, by team executives, to occur in 2019. Until then, is there anyone at the major league level that Padres fans can identify as the face of the franchise?
For the sake of contrast, the wild off-season of 2015 deserves mention. The problem at that particular juncture wasn’t, “is there a face of the franchise?” but rather, “which star will be the face of the franchise?” In came Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, James Shields, Melvin Upton Jr., Craig Kimbrel, Derek Norris, and Wil Myers.
In retrospect, part of the problem with that assemblage was the lack of a true leader. The Padres were like a rowboat with everyone paddling in different directions. This resulted in a 74-88 team record in 2015. Seeing his mistake, general manager, A.J. Preller, dismantled the dysfunctional family and proceeded with the current rebuild model. Out of all the names previously listed, only one has remained with the team. Myers has prevailed as the lone remnant from the flurry of 2015 and he seems to be growing into the leader that the team was sorely lacking.
In a three team trade between the Padres, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Washington Nationals in December 2014, the Padres essentially traded Joe Ross, Trea Turner, Jake Bauers, Burch Smith, and Rene Rivera for Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan, and Jose Castillo. Obviously, the prize for the Padres was the 2013 Rookie of the Year, Myers, whom they paid dearly for by parting with Joe Ross and Trea Turner in the process. In 2013, Myers led A.L. rookies with 53 RBI in 88 games. He hit 13 home runs and amassed a slash line of .293/.354/.478.
Upon being traded to the Padres, Myers was coming off of a 2014 season in which he had only played in 87 games due to a wrist injury. His production decreased mightily as he hit only six home runs and drove in 35 runs while ending up with a slash line of .222/.294/.320. Critics wondered if his small sample size of success was worth the prospects it cost the Padres to obtain him. What if he can’t stay healthy? What if he never gets back to his 2013 numbers ? These were real concerns at the time.
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