The Padres are in the midst of a rebuild that’s been founded upon a few trades for long-term assets and a very active approach on the international market. Mostly, they’ve been stocking up in the lower rungs of the system. GM A.J. Preller has rebounded from his fairly disastrous first year on the job and given the team a pretty strong future outlook. However, it’s going to be a while before the team is relevant again, and it’s not certain that Preller will be around to enjoy the harvest. 

In related matters, we have the Padres and their 2017 payroll. Ownership indicated some time ago that the Padres in 2017 would come in at just under $75 million or so. They have a little more than $18 million going to long-term roster commitments like Wil Myers and arbitration-eligible talents like Yangervis Solarte. They also recently announced the signing of 31 remaining players on the 40-man roster to contracts worth, in all instances, something close to or right at the league minimum. Back-of-the-napkin mathematics will tell you that doesn’t add up to the overall target figure noted above. So what’s afoot? What’s afoot is that the Padres are paying a lot of players who don’t, you know, actually play for the Padres. 

Consider their 2017 outlays to players not on their roster (data via Spotrac) ... 

PlayerTeam2017 retained salary paid by Padres

Melvin Upton

Blue Jays

$12.05 million

James Shields

White Sox

$11 million

Matt Kemp


$8.5 million

Hector Olivera


$2.5 million

Jedd Gyorko


$2 million

Alexei Ramirez


$1 million (buyout of option)

That’s a total of $37.05 million in player salaries not going to players on the Padres’ 40-man roster, and that appears to be more than half of what the team’s Opening Day payroll is going to be. That’s ... impressive in a sense. 

As for the particulars, the Padres acquired Upton as part of the Craig Kimbrel deal with the Braves in April of 2015 and wound up assuming all of the more than $46 million that Upton was owed at the time. More than a year later when they traded Upton to Toronto, they still assumed more than $17 million of what he was owed. The Pads of course signed Shields to a $75 million pact prior to the 2015 season, and after their ill-advised attempt to contend that season they sent him to the White Sox. In doing so, though, the Padres agreed to pay more than half of the almost $58 million he was owed. 

That their still paying Kemp flows from Preller’s inexplicable decision to take on $75 million of Kemp’s remaining contract in the December 2014 trade that brought him to San Diego from the Dodgers. The Padres traded Kemp to the Braves leading up to last year’s non-waiver deadline and kicked in more than $10 million to make it happen. Also to make it happen, the Padres had to take Olivera off the Braves’ hands and send them $10.5 million total. The amount you see above is how much of that $10.5 million they’ll pay Atlanta this year. The Pads subsequently DFA’d and released him. The Padres kicked in cash to trade Gyorko to the Cardinals in December 2015, and most of that is due this year. Finally, Ramirez’s contract with the Padres included a $4 million mutual option/$1 million buyout for 2017, and the club opted for the latter. 

Some of this is standard stuff, but most of it flows from Preller’s poor decisions early in his tenure (although the Gyorko extension wasn’t on his watch). That early attempt at contending in tandem with the quick reversal after the 2015 season has given us what you see today -- i.e., a low payroll team that’s devoting most of that payroll to players who won’t be in their dugout at all in 2017. Not recommended!