Mmhmm the Padres TOTALLY, DEFINITELY Don't Need the Cubs to Help Offload Some Salary This Offseason

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Mmhmm the Padres TOTALLY, DEFINITELY Don’t Need the Cubs to Help Offload Some Salary This Offseason

Chicago Cubs

If you thought last season was difficult as a Cubs fan, just consider what life was like for the Padres. The de facto “winners” of the winter spent lavishly in both dollars and prospects to finish third in their division and miss the postseason entirely. I give their front office credit for really going for it, when so many other teams are content to play it safe, but that’s a pretty brutal outcome, all things considered. The good news is that most of their investments from last winter can still pay dividends this season, and as of now, the Giants and Dodgers are probably a little bit worse overall.

With that said, the Padres could really stand to supplement their go-for-it roster when the lockout ends. And that’s where the Cubs come into play (and the reason for this article).

Whenever any potential Padres rumors have surfaced this offseason, they’ve almost always come attached to a financial qualifier — The Padres are interested in Free Agent X, but only if they can first shed payroll by trading the contract of Player Y.

That usually grabs our attention, of course, because (1) we think the Cubs are in a unique spot to “buy” prospects by taking on bad contracts, and (2) the Cubs actually had these exact conversations with the Padres at the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline (involving the contract of Eric Hosmer and a package of prospects)  *and* rumors of trying again have continued into this offseason.

But the latest from Kevin Acee (San Diego Union Tribune) paints a very different, more optimistic view of the Padres spending capabilities this winter, and it’s worth dissecting:

The Padres won’t be the biggest spenders. They almost certainly won’t “win the offseason,” as they were roundly considered to have done last year. But they appear just as certain to spend a fairly significant sum to bolster their offense with the acquisition of a starting outfielder and possibly a designated hitter.

The team’s payroll is already approaching $185 million, fourth highest in MLB and set to be the biggest opening-day commitment in club history. People familiar with the Padres’ plans say the budget is far from unlimited but that financial housekeeping and refinancing, in addition to Chairman Peter Seidler’s exuberance, has created room to spend.

So they moved some money around and now they’re suddenly ready and able to target a starting outfielder *and* a designated hitter in free agency? Hmm. Maybe, but my radar gets pinged a second time, when Acee says that the Padres could actually sign, for one example, free agent outfielder Seiya Suzuki, without one of those prospect-selling, cash-saving trades: “The Padres could conceivably fit in the projected $10-15 million annual salary Suzuki is projected to make (plus a posting fee of $10 million or so paid to the Hiroshima Carp) even without unloading part of Eric Hosmer’s salary.”

Well, then. Here’s what I think about that.

EVEN IF, Acee had stopped there, I probably would’ve been convinced that this was was about something greater than what’s being reported on the surface (i.e. I wouldn’t have just accepted that the Padres found some money under the couch cushion that they’re ready to spend). But when Acee goes on to also say that the Padres are set to start the season with Hosmer as their first baseman, because “potential trade partners are still seeking an untenable package of prospects,” in return, well … the point becomes pretty clear, doesn’t it?

Given that this is a report out of San Diego, it’s not difficult to imagine that someone inside that front office is trying to signal that the Padres totally, definitely don’t need to shed any payroll to accomplish what they want to in free agency. The question is whether we – or any potential trade partner – actually buys it. Frankly, it’s not even all that difficult to imagine that this was directed in the general direction of Jed Hoyer and the Cubs, who we already know has had these exact conversations with the Padres last summer and possibly into the early offseason.

But the difficult part is not whether Hoyer (or whoever) blinks first – though leverage does seem to have been the goal. It’s whether either front office can actually coordinate and complete a deal of this magnitude when the lockout ends.

On the one hand, the recent Cubs/Padres trade talks — at the deadline (Hosmer) and before the season (Yu Darvish) – should provide enough background to accelerate the process. In other words, Hoyer and Padres GM A.J. Preller should know *exactly* where the other stands on almost every possible variable in this equation, because there’s so much familiarity with each other’s perspective on various players/prospects.

But on the other hand, the post-lockout frenzy is going to be incredible. And first base, in particular, is a position that could quickly become unavailable for the Cubs. So if some version of this deal isn’t basically at the one-yard by the time the bell rings, then I don’t actually see it going down despite all the buildup. And from what we can tell based on this report out of San Diego, there’s still quite a gap to bridge.



Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami