The 2021-22 MLB offseason is a few weeks old and we're still waiting for the first major move to happen. That's not unusual -- like the MLB season itself, the offseason is a marathon rather than a sprint -- though the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement throws a giant wrench into the hot stove. Still, baseball's offseason is underway.
With that in mind, we're going to examine each prospective buyer's offseason wish list over the next few days, continuing with the San Diego Padres. Let's get to it.
This is an unusual starting point, but A.J. Preller's ability to move money will dictate what the Padres can do the rest of the winter. San Diego is currently projected to field an Opening Day payroll of $189 million, or more than $15 million beyond what they spent last year. Additionally, the Padres are projected to have a Competitive Balance Tax payroll within $4 million of the penalty zone. Sources with other teams at the deadline told CBS Sports the Padres were more cognizant of avoiding the tax than you might've guessed based on Preller's wheeling-and-dealing reputation.
Wish list: Preller's work to free up money will likely center on moving either first baseman Eric Hosmer or outfielder Wil Myers. Hosmer is owed $60 million over the next four seasons, including $21 million in 2022; Myers, for his part, is due $22.5 million next season with a $1 million buyout owed on his subsequent club option. The Padres will have to sweeten the pot for a team to take on either deal; that'll likely be in the form of including a good prospect, with those aforementioned sources suggesting outfielder Robert Hassell as a top candidate to be involved in a deal.
The Padres used a lot of resources last winter to acquire Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove. (Not to mention Mike Clevinger at the previous deadline.) Unfortunately, that still wasn't enough to prevent them from having to start the likes of Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez late in the year. Expect Preller to seek out additional rotation depth this winter.
Wish list: Again, a lot depends on whether Preller is able to move either Hosmer or Myers' contract. If he comes up short in those quests, that'll likely preclude the Padres from going after an attractive upmarket option, be it Max Scherzer, Kevin Gausman, or someone of that ilk. One downmarket type who would make sense for the Padres is left-hander Martín Pérez. Preller is familiar with Pérez from their shared days with the Texas Rangers, and he could provide San Diego with a decent back-end option (he's posted a 95 ERA+ and a 2.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio over the last three years) at a trifling wage.
If Myers is indeed dealt, he might not be the only veteran outfielder who departs from San Diego this winter. Tommy Pham, who appeared in 155 games with the Padres in 2021, is a free agent for the first time in his career. The Padres, as a result, are slated to trot out a starting outfield that includes Myers, Trent Grisham, and either Adam Frazier or Jurickson Profar. It's fair to write, then, that San Diego could look to add another outfielder ahead of next spring.
Wish list: The financial uncertainty applies here, too. The Padres would probably love to take a run at Seiya Suzuki, Nick Castellanos, and some of the free-agent market's other top outfielders; it's just not clear if they'll have the means to do so. If San Diego has to settle, perhaps someone like Mark Canha could fall into their price range. Otherwise, they may need to look to the trade market to find a fix.