It took a little less than two years, but Los Angeles Dodgers fans saw this coming from a mile away. The San Diego Padres built a behemoth they couldn't sustain, and will now be forced back to the drawing board come the offseason.
"But if the Padres weren't 0-12 in extra-inning games, they'd be in the playoffs!" Only problem is ... they were historically bad in extra innings, as well as one-run games, which speaks to their dedication and attitude.
After The Athletic dropped a massive exposé on the Padres' organization, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune (subscription required) followed that up with a story claiming massive changes are on the way for the Pads heading into 2024.
Most notably will be a payroll adjustment, with the team shedding enough money to get down to $200 million. There could also be front office turnover as a result, as there's been no assurance regarding who will run the baseball operations department once 2023 concludes.
Would you look at that? The Padres got in the Dodgers' way once during AJ Preller's run since 2014 and it could be all over almost as quickly as it began.
Padres giving Dodgers all sorts of lanes with forthcoming 'changes' for 2024
The Padres were never really considered much of anything until 2022 when they made multiple trade deadline blockbusters that led to a legitimate playoff run. Other than that, Preller spun his wheels from 2014-2021, with the lone accomplishment being a playoff appearance during the shortened 2020 that ended up seeing the Padres swiftly swept by the Dodgers. San Diego has just one full season (2022) in which they finished above .500.
It only made sense for 2023 to be the make-or-break year. A full campaign with Juan Soto and Josh Hader after last year's deadline. $289 million man Xander Bogaerts coming to town. Yu Darvish's very unnecessary extension, still hoping to prove worthwhile. The return of Fernando Tatis Jr. The additions of Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo.
The result? Another incoming below .500 season and what could be a partial teardown to try and establish a sense of normalcy. You'd think this would help the Dodgers, but it might actually hurt them.
The Padres potentially getting rid of Preller is probably a good thing since his tenure has been characterized by chaos, both in terms of player personnel and organizational disconnect. The roster turnover? Blake Snell and Josh Hader are now almost guaranteed to leave in free agency. Juan Soto is likely to get traded. Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo could very well opt out. The Dodgers have a slim chance of acquiring any of those players (though we'd lobby heavily for Snell), meaning instead of these impact talents wasting away on the Padres, they could be dispersed throughout the NL, which would make the Dodgers' path more difficult.
And then there's Bob Melvin, who has watched his relationship with Preller reportedly deteriorate to the point of no return. If he leaves, another team the Dodgers may eventually run into when the stakes are highest could be getting a world class manager (Mets, anyone?).
Though it's funny to watch the Padres collapse less than a year after they thought they had it all figured out, their assortment of superior talent that failed to mesh will now be dispersed throughout the league and create more competition for the Dodgers, unless Andrew Friedman hops on it and addresses his starting rotation with someone like Snell to avoid the larger domino effect.