I think there are a few more points to make about the Padres’ acquisition of Juan Soto and Josh Bell. Yesterday, I looked at the exchange from the perspective of the Nationals’ team; today I want to look at this from the Padres’ perspective. Obviously, the Padres know that negotiating with Scott Boras for Soto’s services once Soto reaches free agency after the 2024 season will be “pricey”. Soto makes $17M this year and will make more than that in each of his next two years which will involve arbitration; so, what is the payroll situation in San Diego?
Thanks here to spotrac.com for this data:
- Counting players on the IL at the moment and counting players who are being paid by the Padres but are not on the team the total payroll for 2022 is $232,628,899.
- The first tier of MLB’s “luxury tax” for this year is $230M.
- If Soto gets only a minimal raise to $20M next year, the Padres will have 6 players making $16M or more apiece with a total salary of $124M in 2023 for those 6 players alone.
From my perspective, it appears that Padres’ owner, Peter Seidler, has decided to go all out for a World Series shot. What could make this an interesting story is that Seidler is the grandson of Walter O’Malley who is the MLB owner who took the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles in the 1950s. The Dodgers have been the “big dog” in southern California for MLB over the last 75 years, but it looks to me as if Seidler has set his sights on taking down the “big dog”. Those 6 players who will earn $16M or more next year form an excellent core:
- Starting Pitcher, Blake Snell
- Starting Pitcher, Yu Darvish
- Outfielder, Wil Myers
- Starting Pitcher, Joe Musgrove
- Outfielder, Juan Soto
- Third Baseman, Manny Machado
Please note that Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Josh Hader are not on that list. Their absence is not a lack of comparable talent; their absence is because neither is going to earn $16M next year. If everyone stays healthy – a caveat that must be added to every team projection into the future – the Padres look to be loaded for 2023.
Tatis suffered a wrist injury this year and has been on the 60-day IL. Recent reports say he has rehabbed to the point that he can take “live batting practice”. Can he return this year and play anywhere near his potential? The big question for the Padres is can he fully recover for 2023 because Tatis is a prodigy similar in stature to Juan Soto.
My sense of the Padres committing to “big spending” with an eye on the NL West crown in 2023 – – it is too late for the Padres to make up 11 games on the Dodgers this year – – points to the bimodal status of MLB franchises. There are big spending teams and there are small spending teams. Those clusters often align with the size of the markets for the franchises – – but not always. See Chicago for example… And if you look at the projected roster for the Padres in 2023 against the projected roster for the Nationals for 2023, it would take an intervention from the gods of Greek mythology for the Nationals to be competitive with the Padres.
Colin Cowherd often argues that dynasties are good for sports; dynasties give fans someone to root for and someone to hate on. In either situation, the dynasty brings attention to the team/sport thereby creating interest. I agree with him to a point; dynasties do serve the purpose that he postulates but if there is never any fluidity to the dynasties and its potential cluster of teams, things can get boring. I believe that what dynasties bring to sport is challenge; dynasties get themselves to an exalted status in a sport and then rival teams plot to become their equals or even superiors. It is that ebb and flow that makes dynasties valuable; without that ebb and flow, things can get tiresome.
The Padres appear to be aiming to “take on the Dodgers” in the NL West; if they can make a race of it next year, that would be great. But the arrival of the Padres on the scene as a potential “big dog” only accentuates the futility that must be part of the fanbase in at least 15 of the MLB cities where the locals have precisely zero chance of playing any games in October save for the spillover regular season games. Moreover, when it became painfully obvious that the Nationals were going to have to trade Soto this summer or over the next winter, the fanbases in only about a half dozen cities experienced any real excitement; not a single fan in Miami or Oakland even dreamed of Juan Soto coming to their town.
The fact that there is a permanent “underclass” in MLB does not enhance its stature and does not bring attention to the games. MLB puts on 2,430 regular season games per year; far too many of those games have exactly no bearing on anything that resembles a “chase to a championship”; a series between the Pirates and the Rockies is as meaningful as serenading a corpse. Oh well, at least the Padres will be interesting to watch now…
Finally, since much of today has been about money and wealth, let me close with these observations:
“Nothing makes a man more intolerable than his consciousness of having enough money for a good lawyer.” [Anonymous]
“The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.” [H. L. Mencken]
“Money is not important. But a lot of money is something else.” [George Bernard Shaw]
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………