The San Diego Padres bought at the trade deadline, hoping the moves would provide a spark. Now, the team’s playoff chances are in jeopardy. After a win on Monday night, San Diego’s record stands at 60-66, 5.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants for the third National League Wild Card spot. Following a 3-4 record last week, the Padres are 8-11 in August before Tuesday’s game against the Miami Marlins.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) August 20, 2023
At the trade deadline, the Padres were in a bind. At 53-55, they had underachieved all year with a high-priced roster and sat five games behind a playoff spot. However, their roster was strong enough to believe in improvement, and San Diego decided to buy, making three trades to acquire five players. However, since the deadline, the Padres have lost ground in the standings, squandering opportunities to vault into playoff position as other contenders have also struggled.
Trades Proving Ineffective
At the trade deadline, the Padres added four players to their major league roster: left-handed starter Rich Hill, right-handed reliever Scott Barlow, and first basemen/DHs Ji-Man Choi and Garrett Cooper. Thus far, they have a combined -1.2 WAR in Padres uniforms. In three starts, Hill has a 9.53 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched for the Padres. Barlow has yet to be effective: 5.91 ERA in 10.2 innings. The team’s offensive additions haven’t helped much, either. As of this writing, Choi has yet to record a hit in a Padres uniform, going 0-11 with five walks in 16 trips to the plate. He landed on the 10-day Injured List on August 14th with a left ribcage strain. Cooper is hitting .192 in a San Diego uniform, with just one home run in 31 plate appearances. While none of these players were superstars during their respective trades, each was expected to improve the Padres roster and help them clear the bar for October baseball.
Broader Lineup Questions
Despite attempts to address the issue, the Padres’ trades acknowledged their flawed roster construction at the deadline. Their roster, the 3rd-most expensive in the league this season, is top-loaded with questionable depth. Cooper and Choi were meant to provide valuable offense in weak spots, while Hill and Barlow were intended to cover meaningful innings down the stretch. Unfortunately for the Padres, their stars haven’t been able to shoulder their portion of the load. In August, their four best players (Soto, Tatis Jr., Machado, or Bogaerts) have yet to hit at a league-average rate. By WRC+, the four have posted 88, 84, 98, and 91 marks, respectively (100 is the league average).
Will It Turn Around?
At this point, San Diego has moved from sleeping giant status to just underwhelming. A month ago, the Padres’ trades sparked excitement. They might have been the final pieces of the puzzle to right the ship after a mediocre start to the year. Now, time is running out. Barring a blazing hot stretch, the Padres are on the outside looking into October. As a result, it’s far past time for the roster to step up. If not, San Diego will spend another year searching for their city’s first pro sports title.
Main Photo Credits: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports