The San Diego Padres have made some noise in the first half of the 2018 Major League Baseball season. Despite not having an expectation to contend, they find themselves only a few games out of the first place in the National League West.
The team made a giant splash early in Spring Training when they acquired Eric Hosmer, giving him the largest contract in franchise history (eight-years/$144 million). Usually, a team makes a signing like this when they are gearing up for a postseason run. This wasn’t necessarily the case with the Padres.
San Diego is still presently going through a rebuilding phase. General manager A.J. Preller has been dealing away major league caliber players for prospects to rebuild what was a broken farm system. He has been rebuilding the farm since 2016 and has done well in his task.
The Padres had a rocky start to the season, and part of that was caused by their schedule. In April and May, the Padres played the Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies (multiple times), Los Angeles Dodgers (multiple times), San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, Saint Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros. With the exception of the Dodgers, all of these teams were or are above .500.
Through the first part of June, San Diego played against some sub-.500 teams. They won series’ against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins. That allowed them to climb closer to the other four teams in the division.
After June comes July and with that, the trade deadline. The Padres have some trade candidates on their roster. It’s believed that the Padres will be sellers next month. They have pieces they can trade and receive quality prospects in return as they continue to load up for the future.
However, what if they are still close in the division race in July? Should they change course and become buyers and make a run for the postseason in 2018? The answer to that question is simple — no.
Preller should stick to his original plan, which is to be competitive in 2020 and beyond. Most of the talent on the team isn’t expected to debut in the majors until 2019, at the very least. Until then, the team should continue with their rebuild. Any players they might trade, such as Brad Hand or Kirby Yates, should be traded for players that will help in the future. It’s not worth it to trade for a major league rental who probably won’t be with the team after the season.
Besides, it’s hard to imagine the Padres competing in the postseason with their current team. Even acquiring one or two players doesn’t put them ahead of the Nationals, the Brewers, Chicago Cubs or any other team expected to contend for the NL crown.
Altering the process now could jeopardize the future. Smart teams don’t do this. Take the Brewers, for example. They were in contention for the NL Wild Card last season. However, they stood pat at the trade deadline, instead of changing course and loading up for a 2017 postseason run.
The Brewers did make moves in the offseason, signing Lorenzo Cain and trading for Christian Yelich. Those were the right deals for them to make, as they are leading the NL Central this season. Who knows what would have happened had they rented players last season.
If the Padres continue to stay close in the NL West race, chatter about the postseason will pick up. The team shouldn’t give in to the hype and make a move they might regret later. While talk of a potential postseason run would bring some excitement to a fan base that is starving for success, it wouldn’t measure up to what the team is building for later.
Everyone should continue to trust the process, no matter what happens over the coming weeks leading up to the trade deadline.