Addition of Manny Machado Brings Padres Back to Respectability
The San Diego Padres finished the 2018 season with the second worst record in the National League and barely avoided the dreaded 100-loss mark, finishing 66-96. There was little to build upon, as the team ranked near the bottom in earned run average, batting average, home runs and runs scored. Clearly, the Padres needed to address nearly every area this off season.
The top two players in the free agent pool this off season, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, were sought after by many teams, including the Padres. After a long, arduous process, the Padres landed Machado for 10 years at $300 million. Machado hit a combined 37 home runs and 107 RBI last season and has had four consecutive seasons of 30 or more home runs. His 162 game average if 31 home runs, 90 RBI and .282 average is among the best in baseball. He is a four-time All-Star and two time Gold Glove Award winner.
The question is how much better will the Padres be just from this signing? Let's look back at the other moves made to strength the team. The only other key off season addition was veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler. The 36-year old hit .240 with 26 doubles, 14 home runs and 48 RBI. Hunter Renfroe helps give the Padres a solid one-two punch with Machado. Veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer will help lead a young core, which includes shortstop Luis Urias, taking over for the departed Freddy Galvis and Franmil Reyes, who hit 16 home runs in 261 at-bats last season.
The bullpen is solid with Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen forming a very good back end. The question is in the starting rotation of Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Robbie Erlin, Jacob Nix and Luis Perdoma. Luchchesi had a mediocre 4.08 ERA, tops among the starters, while NIx and Perdomo were both above seven. This area of the team needs to step up for the team to improve.
The addition of Machado helps the Padres win some games that were out of reach last season. Even when the pitching struggles, the team should have significantly more offensive pop to outscore teams. There is decent young talent to compliment Machado, but it will take time to develop. Look for the Padres to improve enough to get out of the cellar, but will still be a below .500 team this season.