San Diego Padres
Overview (Present Rank: 24th | Future Rank: 11th)
Despite the high expectations entering the 2015 season, the San Diego Padres finished with a losing record for the fifth consecutive year. New G.M. A.J. Preller went for it all in his first offseason as the head of baseball operations, but took a much more conservative approach this winter after his inaugural offseason splashes failed to translate to more wins on the field. San Diego doesn’t have Justin Upton in the heart of the lineup or Craig Kimbrel closing out games, but there are other reasons to be excited about the direction of this franchise. While it’s unlikely the five-year losing season streak ends this year, the Friars are making the right moves to ensure all of these losing seasons become a thing of the past in the near future.
*Detailed analysis conducted April 4, 2016; rankings and charts updated throughout the season.
New manager Andy Green wasn’t involved in the team’s decision to have both Derek Norris and Austin Hedges in the lineup for part of last season, but with a healthy Wil Myers becoming the team’s new first baseman, the decision he’ll have to make this year will be going with Derek Norris or Austin Hedges. The beginning of the year will be easy as Norris is the four-year veteran while Hedges will need more seasoning in Triple-A. However, if Hedges starts stroking in the minor leagues and Norris doesn’t outperform his recently mediocre offense, Green will have a more difficult decision to make as the year goes on.
Both players are former top prospects with the potential of being above-average contributors in the batter’s box. Hedges still has the high ceiling while Norris’ recent struggles have lowered his stock. Ultimately, Norris’ ineptitude against right-handed pitchers could force the team to go with Hedges as the long-term catching option as soon as this season. Hedges is no longer a prospect as he lost his rookie eligibility last season, but his defensive prowess and offensive upside give San Diego a reason to trade Derek Norris for more pitching reinforcements.
Unsatisfied with just two quality catchers, GM A.J. Preller traded for Christian Bethancourt over the offseason. Bethancourt was once seen as a future impact catcher himself, but an abysmal .220/.245/.284 slash line over his first 268 major league at-bats have significantly reduced those projections. The potential is still there for Bethancourt to emerge as more than a solid defensive-minded backup catcher, but he’ll need to make plenty of adjustments with his swing and plate discipline to reach his full offensive potential.
Future Outlook: Hedging Norris out of the equation
After Austin Hedges’ disappointing 2014 season in Double-A, the Padres went out and traded for Derek Norris, who still had four more years of team control at the time. Now that Hedges has regained his value with a solid 2015 showing, the Padres now face a decision of who will be the team’s catcher of the future. Not to mention, Bethancourt still has the potential to make it a three-way race. However, considering all of the pros and cons to each player, the Padres will likely go with Hedges as the team’s future starting catcher and put the 27 year-old Norris on the trade market as a way of improving the team’s pitching staff.
Some players are easier to project than others, and Wil Myers is certainly one of the more difficult ones. His major league .256/.327/.407 slash line suggests Myers is nothing more than a below-average starting player, especially considering that .734 OPS has sinked to .675 when strictly factoring in the past two seasons. However, Myers is still only 25 years old, was a top-5 prospect only three years ago, and has a powerful swing that causes the ball to fly off his bat. He still has the same potential that made him the headliner in two separate blockbuster trades involving other top-tier players. Myers has the versatility to play all around the diamond, and if he can finally get over those wrist injuries, he could finally deliver on the potential surrounding him as a prospect.
Brett Wallace is also a former top prospect, but doesn’t have a ceiling that’s even close to Myers’ max potential. Regardless, Wallace proved he can still hit right-handed pitching, and he can hit them well (.304/.385/.565 in 69 AB’s vs. RHP in 2015). His opportunities will be limited, but he can provide San Diego with a solid platoon partner for anyone that struggles against righties. With Wil Myers looking to call first base his permanent home on an everyday basis, Wallace might have to join another team to find that ideal situation.
If Myers weren’t around, maybe Wallace and Alex Dickerson could form some sort of platoon, but Dickerson is also more profound against right-handed pitching than when facing southpaws. Dickerson’s ability to play the outfield and Wallace’s skills at third base should give them extra at-bats even if Wil Myers stays healthy for a full season for the first time in his major league career.
Future Outlook: Will Myers be able to turn potential into production?
Wil Myers was once one of the game’s elite prospects with scouts praising his excellent power, contact skills, and approach at the plate. While Brett Wallace was also a former top prospect, Myers still has the potential to develop into a top-5 first baseman with the right adjustments. The main thing for the 25 year-old is staying healthy as a wrist injury has derailed his major league career thus far. If he can show he’s fully healthy, Myers can still evolve into one of the game’s greatest hitters, even with Petco Park as his environment for half of the team’s games.
While the Padres are hoping Wil Myers lives up to his potential at first base, San Diego is hoping for a similar outcome at second base with Cory Spangenberg. After a solid rookie campaign, Spangenberg is on track to making that a reality. Spangenberg is a former top-100 prospect himself (according to Baseball America) with the track record that proves his tools play up against professional pitching. If he can stay on track, the Padres could have one of the best right side of the infield tandems for years to come.
Alexi Amarista and Adam Rosales provide depth at the position as well as multiple other positions as the go-to utility men. The Padres envisioned the same role for Carlos Asuaje when they acquired him in the Craig Kimbrel deal with the Red Sox. Luis Urias could fill the same role once he reaches the bigs in 2018 with a slightly higher ceiling as a faster player with some upside in his contact-oriented swing.
Ryan Schimpf is one of the older prospects in the league at 28 years old, but his 23 HR's in 107 games last year has elevated his stock. He might never be a starting caliber player, but he could be a valuable bat off the bench going forward.
Future Outlook: Cory Spangenberg’s time to shine
Ever since the Padres elected the 25 year-old Cory Spangenberg with their 10th overall pick in 2011, they were counting on him to become their second baseman of the future. After performing well in the minors, Spangenberg proved he was ready for the show after a solid .271/.333/.399 batting line in his rookie season last year. The Padres are handing Spangenberg the keys to the second base position now that it’s his time to shine.
While the Padres have hope in Wil Myers and Cory Spangenberg developing into marquee players, it’s clear Alexei Ramirez is strictly a stop-gap solution before the next wave of talent arrives in San Diego. Ramirez was once an All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger, but the move to Petco Park has drastically limited his offensive potential. Ramirez is still a premier defender at shortstop, but it’s clear age has slowed him down on the basepaths and in the batter’s box.
The Padres addressed the future of the shortstop position over the offseason when they traded Craig Kimbrel in a deal centered around Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra. While Margot looks to be covering all the gaps in Petco Park in the not so distant future, San Diego acquired Guerra with the idea of him eventually becoming their starting shortstop.
Guerra has always been touted as an excellent fielder, but the 20 year-old displayed some offensive upside with Boston’s Class-A team last year. While his short stroke bodes well for his hit-tool ceiling, his raw power is lacking despite hitting 15 HR’s over 116 games last year. That was mostly due to inexperienced pitchers leaving balls right in the middle of the zone, which he’ll continuously see less of as he faces more advanced pitching. The lack of speed and raw power lower his overall potential value, yet he still has a high floor as a defensive-minded utility player.
Before they acquired Guerra, the team brought Jose Rondon aboard in the Huston Street trade in 2014. The 22 year-old has the same defensive prowess as Guerra with scouts praising his ability to make things look easy on the field. Rondon doesn’t have as promising of a swing as Guerra, but makes up for it with his speed which make him a threat on the base paths. There’s very little power in his game, but he could be decent in that category if he adds more muscle to his 6’1”, 195 lbs. frame. The older Rondon will get his chance in the bigs before Guerra, which could come as soon as late-2017/early-2018.
San Diego clearly isn’t satisfied with just one marquee shortstop prospect. Not only have they acquired two heralded shortstops over the past two years, but they also signed Ruddy Giron for $600K out of the Dominican Republic a few years ago. After posting a .285/.335/.407 slash line with 9 HR’s and 15 SB’s in 96 games in Class-A as a 18 year-old, many prospect evaluators are high on Giron’s potential. He still has plenty of things to work on as he gets caught off balanced by good offspeed stuff regularly, but Giron has a chance to be an impact player for the Padres. Out of the three top shortstop prospects in San Diego’s system, Giron has the highest offensive ceiling with both contact and power being a part of his game
Future Outlook: A franchise shortstop finally on the horizon?
The San Diego Padres were introduced to Major League Baseball in 1969, 47 years ago. Yet, in those 47 years, the Padres have never had a franchise shortstop, not one. It’s not as if they haven’t tried. They drafted the legendary Ozzie Smith in 1977, but they traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals four years into his career before he became the Hall of Famer we all know him as today. They also drafted Matt Bush with first overall pick in the 2004 draft, but he didn’t even last four years before he was out of the organization. To this day, Khalil Greene owns the highest WAR of any Padres shortstop at an unimpressive 9.0. The “best” shortstop in Padres history has never had an OPS over .795 in any single season.
The Padres are desperate for a shortstop to emerge as a franchise icon, something they’ve been missing since Tony Gwynn’s retirement. It’s clear Alexei Ramirez won’t confuse anybody for a franchise star, but the Padres are hoping one of their three promising shortstop prospects are up to the task. Jose Rondon, Javier Guerra, and Ruddy Giron each have a chance to become everyday shortstops at the next level. However, it’s highly unlikely any of them develops into anything more than a serviceable starter. San Diego will have to keep looking for that franchise star if they want that player to also be their starting shortstop.
The last “franchise star” the team had was in the national spotlight for a very small amount of time, about a year to be exact. Chase Headley set the league on fire in 2012 with 31 HR’s, 115 RBI’s, and a .286/.376/.498 slash line that earned him a Silver Slugger and the fifth most MVP votes to go along with his only Gold Glove award. However, a significant drop off in production after that season led the team to trading the one-year wonder to the New York Yankees for Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula. The younger Solarte was supposed to be a fringe starter, but he’s actually out-produced Headley the past year and a half since the trade while simultaneously emerging as a valuable contributor on both sides of the ball. The 28 year-old still has four more years of team control where he’ll continue to outperform the expectations originally set for him.
Future Outlook: Solarte the overachiever
When the Padres traded Chase Headley, coming off a disastrous year and half after a monster 2012 season, they weren’t expecting much in return. They took a flier on Yangervis Solarte, a player who never cracked an organization’s top-30 prospect rankings and was granted free agency as a minor leaguer a whopping three times. However, Solarte has provided the Padres with solid, yet unspectacular production at the hot corner in his year and a half with San Diego. Some analysts are still not yet sold on Solarte remaining a valuable contributor, but now that he’s entering his prime at 28 years old, he could continue to get even better instead.
By trading Jedd Gyorko for Jon Jay, the Padres stabilized their outfield in 2016. However, the outfield still projects to be among one of the worst groups in the league without Justin Upton out there anymore. Matt Kemp’s return to the outfield means it won’t be all bad. After an injury-riddled 2013 campaign, ‘the Bison’ has now had two consecutive productive seasons at the plate, totaling 48 HR’s and 189 RBI’s in that two-year window. He’s still owed $87MM over the next four years ($14MM covered by LAD), but if he can stay healthy, Kemp remains one of the best power-hitting outfielders in the game.
While it’s hard to argue Kemp being an overpaid player, it’s impossible to say Melvin Upton Jr. isn’t overpaid. Since signing his 5yr/$72.3MM contract with Atlanta, Upton has batted an abysmal .209/.287/.335 the past three years. However, despite moving to the more spacious Petco park, Upton actually improved his offensive production last year by hitting .259/.327/.429. If he can put together a similar offensive campaign in 2016, the Padres might be able to trade him without covering any extended amount of his salary. Upton likely won’t get close to posting any 30-30 seasons anymore, but his glove, speed, and power still make him a valuable contributor at age-31.
(EDIT: With the team in the midst of another losing season, the Padres traded away Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr. (along with their hefty contracts) to open up room for their younger outfielders to take the reigns. They didn't receive any valuable players in return, but the money they saved by executing those deals should benefit them in the future. Click here to see how Kemp will fit with the Braves or here to view Upton's future role with the Blue Jays [7/30/16].)
Jon Jay lacks the power/speed combination that earned Upton Jr. the lucrative deal earlier in his career, but Jay is still an quality overall player. Jay doesn’t have a lot of upside as a 31 year-old coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, but he’s still better than any of the other options San Diego has.
However, that won’t be the case as soon as next year. Jay is a free agent after this year, but Travis Jankowski would be ready to take his place in 2017 even if he wasn’t. Jankowski is the team’s No. 6 prospect entering the season (according to Baseball America) thanks to elite speed, strong fielding abilities, and the potential to get on-base around 40% of the time. Jankowski could someday become a top-10 center fielder with the floor of being a solid defensive contributor with offensive success in moderation.
However, Jankowski’s not even their best outfield prospect. Heck, he’s not even their second best outfield prospect either. Those titles belong to Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe. Renfroe was the team’s 13th overall pick in 2013 while Margot was the headliner in the Craig Kimbrel trade this past offseason. They are each featured on almost every evaluators’ top-100 prospect list.
Margot has received so much attention thanks to being a legitimate five-tool player. He already has the speed, arm, and fielding skills to be a constant Gold Glover, while his quick bat and raw power fuel his offensive upside. Margot already has an advanced approach at 21 years old with the potential to develop into one of the game’s premier players.
Hunter Renfroe also has a legitimate chance of evolving into one of the league’s greatest hitters. The 24 year-old doesn’t have the same speed or fielding prowess that Margot possesses, but he has the bat speed, strength, and swing path to be an elite power hitter. He’s still working on his approach at the plate, but maybe Margot can teach him some things when they’re teaming up as one of the game’s best outfield tandems in the league along with Travis Jankowski.
Renfroe isn’t the only Padres minor leaguer that projects to be an above-average major league power hitter. Jabari Blash showcased his home run stroke in both Double-A and Triple-A last year with 32 HR’s. Blash is the prototypical power-hitting outfielder with an arm to play both corner outfield positions, but the lack of range to be a good one. Strikeouts, walks, and home runs are all a part of his game with a need to improve his contact abilities. He could join Jankowski on the big league club as soon as this year.
If those four players weren’t enough insurance for the future of San Diego’s outfield, the Padres also just drafted Michael Gettys in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft. From a defensive standpoint, Gettys could have more speed than Jankowski, a better glove than Margot, and a stronger arm than Renfroe. Offensively, there’s some untapped raw power in Gettys’ 6’1”, 203 lb. frame, but a hit-tool that could prevent him from making a major league roster at all. Gettys is a boom-or-bust prospect. If he works on his hands placement throughout his swing and getting better contact on the ball, Gettys has the rest of the tools in his toolbox to become an outstanding leadoff-hitting center fielder with the rare upside of a Lorenzo Cain-type player.
Future Outlook: Quantity and quality
After Justin Upton departed, it became pretty safe to say the Padres would have one of the worst outfields in 2016. Matt Kemp is the team’s only above-average outfielder while Jon Jay and Melvin Upton Jr. were among the league’s worst last year. However, considering the Padres are in a rebuilding stage, they’re more concerned over their future outfield. With top prospects Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, and Travis Jankowski poised to make an impact within the next two years with Jabari Blash and Michael Gettys ready to do some damage down the line. The Padres outfield might not be very intriguing this year, but the future’s very bright.
After spending the majority of the 2015 season (and MLB career) in the bullpen, the Padres are going to try Drew Pomeranz as a starter again. With nothing to lose in 2016, the Padres are taking a ‘why not’ approach. While the 27 year-old has struggled as a starter thus far, it wasn’t too long ago he was a top-30 prospect in all of baseball with the upside of a frontline starter. However, after failing to develop his changeup and command, he’s a much better fit in the bullpen. This year should be his last chance to start. If he fails again, he’ll be relegated to bullpen duty the rest of his career. However, he could be a great setup man if permanently moved to the bullpen.
(EDIT: After breaking out in 2016, the Padres were able to trade Drew Pomeranz to BOS for top RHP prospect Anderson Espinoza. Espinoza has the potential to be a frontline starter for San Diego for the majority of the 2020's while Pomeranz will solidify Boston's rotation in 2016 and for the next three seasons. Click here to see how Pomeranz will fit in the Red Sox starting rotation [7/14/16]).
Because of San Diego’s lackluster options in the rotation, Christian Friedrich and Robbie Erlin could receive some starts for the team this year. However, Friedrich has been borderline terrible thus far in his major league career while Erlin’s high-80’s fastball isn’t enough to get the job done. Erlin’s secondary stuff and solid command gives him a chance at remaining a back-end starter, but Friedrich will likely be stuck in the bullpen without an effective breaking ball.
Logan Allen is the only left-handed pitcher in San Diego’s system with any intrigue. Allen was a part of the Craig Kimbrel deal after being drafted by Boston in the eighth round for an over-slot deal ($725K) in last year’s draft. Allen’s smooth, repeatable delivery leads to strong command that makes him more advanced than most 19 year-old pitchers. Allen’s low-90’s fastball could get even faster if he adds to his 6’3”, 200 lb. frame. His curveball has plenty of movement on it, and his changeup should be serviceable enough to make him a mid-rotation starter. Allen’s ability to throw strikes could get him to San Diego quicker than most high school pitchers.
Future Outlook: Logan Allen and then everybody else
The Padres rotation is absolutely terrible this year. The only promising pitchers in the 2016 rotation throw from the right-side leaving San Diego’s left-handed starters among the worst in the league. Erlin and Friedrich don’t figure to make much of an impact going forward leaving Logan Allen as the only lefty in the organization that gives the team hope for the future. Allen’s polish as a 19 year-old gives San Diego faith he can emerge as a viable mid-rotation starter by the end of the decade.
While the lefties in San Diego’s rotation leave something to be desired, the righties aren’t much more impressive. Tyson Ross leads the pack as the only legitimate frontline starter in the organization. (EDIT: Anderson Espinoza and Chris Paddack are recent additions to the team with frontline starting upside [7/14/16]). Ross has turned his career around after a rough start with the Oakland A’s. The 29 year-old has just two more years of team control before he can walk away in free agency leaving the Padres with nothing. It’s expected that if San Diego can’t hammer out a extension in the next year, they would prefer to trade Ross for a starter that can contribute later in the decade when the team has a more realistic chance at competing for the playoffs.
Andrew Cashner looked like he was poised to join Ross atop San Diego’s (and fantasy baseball user's) rotation for years. However, a rough 2015 campaign might have revealed Cashner for who he really is: a starter with ace-stuff, but mediocre results. Cashner has the mid-90’s fastball and promising offspeed stuff that can dominate up and down an opposing team’s lineup. However, Cashner has yet to have a feel for his stuff to consistently get it by hitters. Hitters were getting hard contact on him 30.2% of the time, which was among the worst 20 pitchers in the league (qualified SP only). With just one year left on his deal as a 29 year-old, Cashner could finally put it all together as a former top prospect, however, he’ll need to do something he’s never done before: throw strikes more consistently.
‘Big Game James’ was once one of the best pitchers in the league, especially when it mattered most. However, it’s safe to say at 34 years old, his best days are behind him. He secured his last big contract netting a 4yr/$75MM deal with the Padres before last season, but saw a significant drop off in his production in 2015. While he posted a career high strikeout rate (25.1%), he was also walking batters at a career high pace (9.4%). The Padres reportedly flirted with the idea of trading Shields less than one year after signing him last year after they were too far out of contention. Considering things haven’t gone as planned since signing Shields, if the Padres likely struggle again in 2016, Shields could officially be on the move this time with future options in mind. (EDIT: Padres have traded James Shields to the Chicago White Sox for RHP Erik Johnson and 2B prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. [6/5/16]).
Colin Rea will assist in filling out the rotation in 2016. The 25 year-old rookie has a low-90’s fastball, a two-seam fastball with good movement, a devastating 12-6 curve, and a solid cutter. However, Rea hasn’t shown an ability to locate those pitches with consistency. Rea’s command could prohibit him from being anything more than a back-end starter, but his smooth, repeatable delivery gives the upside needed to settle in as an effective No. 3/No. 4 starter.
The right-handed minor league starters aren’t looking any more promising than the lefties in San Diego’s farm system. While Logan Allen has mid-rotation upside with a polished repertoire, Jacob Nix has a similar scouting report, but is a year older. Like Allen, Nix could proceed through the minors quickly and hop into the rotation by the end of the decade. Consistency and command issues are the only thing keeping Nix from reaching his potential.
(EDIT: After trading Fernando Rodney and Drew Pomeranz, San Diego has acquired two highly touted righties that could join Nix in the future rotation. To read more about them click here for Chris Paddack and here for Anderson Espinoza [7/14/16]).
Enyel De Los Santos, Kyle Lloyd, Austin Smith, and Dinelson Lamet are some other right-handers with the potential to pitch in San Diego’s rotation. However, due to a high-effort delivery, lack of command, and/or undeveloped secondary offerings these pitchers could all end up in the bullpen.
Future Outlook: Strengthening a weakness
(EDIT: The San Diego Padres acquired Chris Paddack and Anderson Espinoza in recent months completely changing their future outlook for right-handed pitchers. While the future of the position appeared bleak before the season, the addition of these two potential frontline starters certainly brightens it up. Rea and Nix still have mid-rotation starter potential while Espinoza and Paddack can carry the future staff. A free-agent addition or two, or one more trade for a big-name starter, and the Padres will have completely strengthened the team’s biggest weakness going forward [7/14/16]).
If there’s one position group that's typically an indicator of the team’s overall chance of success, it’s the bullpen. It’s just a fact of baseball nowadays: Good teams have good bullpens; bad teams have bad bullpens. Of course, there are always some abnormalities (Yankees), but the Padres do not qualify as one of them. San Diego is projected to be one of the worst teams in the league in 2016, and uncoincidentally have one of the league’s worst relief corps.
The team’s bullpen is anchored by Fernando Rodney, but despite a strong finish last season, Rodney is already 39 years-old. While it was only two years ago that Rodney was the MLB’s leader in saves (48), he has appeared to have taken a step back since then. However, with the Padres not likely to be in contention anytime soon, they could ship Rodney to a contender for future assets. (EDIT: The Padres have traded Fernando Rodney to the Miami Marlins for RHP prospect Chris Paddack [6/30/16])
With the team testing out Pomeranz in the rotation, Kevin Quackenbush and Brandon Maurer appear to be the lead candidates to setup Rodney in 2016 with Carlos Villanueva and Brad Hand emerging as key contributors by year’s end. None of the four offer much upside, except for the 27 year-old Quackenbush who could take over as the team’s closer once Fernando Rodney is no longer on the team.
Matt Thornton and Ryan Buchter are two lefties that could be featured in San Diego’s bullpen this year while Buchter could remain a viable piece for the foreseeable future if he takes advantage of the opportunity in 2016.
Kyle McGrath, Jose Castillo, and Jose Torres are all lefties that could help San Diego’s bullpen in the future. McGrath could be ready for the bigs as soon as next year while Castillo and Torres will likely need more time. Torres could evolve into a high-leverage setup man with his mid-90’s fastball and solid breaking ball.
Phil Maton and Jimmy Brasoban have potential to fill in from the right side down the line, with each pitcher having a chance to contribute within the next two years. Maton was drafted with the intent of becoming a high-leverage reliever while Brasoban just recently converted to the bullpen. Both pitchers have the potential to be impact relievers at full maturity in the 2020’s.
Future Outlook: The bullpen is a perfect reflection of the team as a whole
The San Diego Padres are not a team that is going to win many games in 2018. Extending the franchise’s five-year losing season streak seems probable, especially considering the lackluster bullpen currently in place. However, the Padres have some pieces in place to put together a solid bullpen as the decade dwindles down just like the team as a whole could shape up to be a solid competitor in the NL West by the end of the decade.
OVERALL OUTLOOK: Expectations are low… for now
After making hot stove headlines in the offseason, high expectations surrounded San Diego heading into the 2015 season. After high-profile additions Justin Upton and James Shields underperformed, Matt Kemp became a defensive liability, and Craig Kimbrel’s had his worst season to date, the Padres finished with a disappointing 74-88 record. This time around, GM A.J. Preller took a much more low-key approach to the offseason. The only marquee names that were involved in San Diego’s offseason transactions were players leaving the team (Upton, Kimbrel, Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, Yonder Alonso, etc.).
San Diego now has a decent lineup that is bound to produce below-average numbers thanks to the spacious Petco Park hosting 81 of their games. The Padres’ rotation will have a chance to make up for that, but a starting five that features uninspiring pitchers like Colin Rea and Christian Friedrich doesn’t pose as much of a threat to do so. The bullpen was completely overhauled in the offseason, but fangraphs still projects it to be among the worst in the league.
With the loaded Dodgers, even-year Giants, and improved D-backs all fighting for a playoff spot in the NL West, the Padres’ expectations are much lower heading into 2016, and for good reason. However, San Diego has the pieces in place to have an excellent lineup in a few years with enough trade assets, payroll flexibility, and the attractiveness of the pitcher-friendly Petco Park to acquire more premium pitchers going forward. The Padres are a team on the rise in the coming years if GM A.J. Preller focuses on attaining young, high-ceiling starters with the few trade assets he still has.