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2023 MLB Season Preview: San Diego Padres

The ever-interesting Padres are right up there with the Braves as one of the best on-paper teams in MLB right now.

San Diego Padres Introduce Xander Bogaerts Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

The Padres were a team that dominated the headlines throughout the season last year. Some of the most notable storylines included star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. fracturing his wrist in a motorcycle accident, and then getting suspended for PED use. The organization also shocked the baseball world when they pulled the trigger on two trades that landed them All-Stars Josh Hader and Juan Soto. A hectic season led to an 89-73 record, good enough for the second Wild Card spot in the NL. San Diego rode their star players all the way to the NLCS by topping the Mets and then the Dodgers, but ultimately lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Expectations for 2023

As things currently stand, the Padres are expected to be one of the best teams in baseball for the upcoming 2023 season. Their projected regular season win total for 2023 sits around 91-93 wins.

Despite losing the likes of Josh Bell and Brandon Drury this winter, it is safe to assume the offense will take a big step forward. Fernando Tatis Jr. is eligible to return from his PED suspension on April 20th, Juan Soto should post better numbers for them as he regresses towards his own great personal mean, and he should be more fully acclimated to the team and city, for whatever that’s worth. San Diego also added one of the best hitters in the league in Xander Bogaerts. Tatis Jr., Soto, Manny Machado and Bogaerts will be one of, if not the most, feared quartet of hitters in MLB history.

On paper, the Padres might have the most talented roster, but it’s not as well-rounded as that of some other teams, which is why their win total estimates are up there, but not necessarily the best in MLB (a distinction that belongs to the Braves in many cases).

Projected roster

Per Roster Resource:

  1. Ha-Seong Kim 2B
  2. Juan Soto LF
  3. Manny Machado 3B
  4. Xander Bogaerts SS
  5. Jake Cronenworth 1B
  6. Nelson Cruz DH
  7. Matt Carpenter RF (Fernando Tatis Jr. is set to return in mid/late-April, pushing Carpenter to the bench)
  8. Austin Nola C
  9. Trent Grisham CF


Luis Campusano C
Brandon Dixon INF/OF
Jose Azocar OF
Adam Engel OF

Projected rotation

  1. Yu Darvish RHP
  2. Joe Musgrove RHP
  3. Blake Snell LHP
  4. Michael Wacha RHP
  5. Nick Martinez RHP
  6. Seth Lugo RHP

Projected bullpen

Josh Hader LHP
Robert Suarez RHP
Luis Garcia RHP
Drew Pomeranz LHP
Steven Wilson RHP
Tim Hill LHP
Nabil Crismatt RHP

Biggest strength

The biggest strength of this team is clearly its offense. As discussed above, the lineup will feature four of the best hitters in the league in Tatis Jr., Soto, Machado and Bogaerts. In addition to those four, the lineup also contains Jake Cronenworth who despite taking a step back last season is still a solid hitter, Nelson Cruz who is one of the best power hitters of his generation, and Ha-Seong Kim, who came onto the scene last season. Additionally, Luis Campusano is a breakout candidate if Austin Nola struggles at all this season.

In a stacked roster, Soto stands out as one of the few potential LFs in the league whose absurd offensive talent compensates for a lack of any other skill. That said, don’t sleep on Machado, Tatis, a Cruz/Carpenter combo at DH, and a strongly-projected, albeit top-heavy, bullpen. Having a likely top-10 rotation and Xander Bogaerts doesn’t hurt either, but few things on this Padres roster do.

Biggest weakness

Despite having the likes of Hader, Suarez and Garcia, the Padres ‘pen is not overly deep. Hader struggled mightily at times last season, Pomeranz did not pitch at all in 2022, and Tim Hill could be good but probably won’t be great, and could be replacement level. Wilson and Crismatt are still relatively unknown commodities. Still, it’s hard to look at the overall bullpen and think it’s a huge area of concern.

Instead, the biggest concerns for the Padres are probably at catcher and first base. Austin Nola struggled everywhere last year, underhitting a not-great xwOBA and having horrible issues defensively. He looks to split time with big-time prospect Luis Campusano, who oozes potential but was terrible as an injury fill-in in 50 PAs last year. At first, Cronenworth loses a lot of the value that comes from his versatility, and you can’t ignore that he had a serious dropoff in hitting last year, buoyed by outhitting his xwOBA and some insane baserunning numbers.

Reinforcements from the farm

Due to multiple trades over the past few seasons by General Manager A.J. Preller, the farm system for the Padres is pretty barren. LHP Jay Groome, who the team acquired from the Red Sox for Eric Hosmer, infielder Eguy Rosario are the only two prospects in the Padres top 10 who are expected to appear in big league action this upcoming season. The system’s only impact prospects are years away. But the Padres probably don’t care, given their major league roster.

Braves history and outlook against the Padres

Last season the Braves went 2-5 against the Padres, their first season-series loss to San Diego since 2015. In 2023, the Braves will dispense with all of their regular-season Padres matchups before late April. After a two-city road trip to begin the season, they’ll host the Padres on Thursday, April 6, for the team’s home opener, and the series will continue for three more games. Then, on April 17-19, they’ll pay a visit to San Diego for a three-game weekday set. After that, if these two teams meet again in 2023, it’ll be in the postseason... something that doesn’t seem that unlikely at this point.

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