After a run to the NLCS in 2022 and the acquisition of Xander Bogaerts this past winter, the Padres came into 2023 with sky-high expectations. However, San Diego went just 82-80 and barely finished above .500 thanks to a 20-7 run at the end of the season. Heading into the offseason, San Diego now has to potentially stare down a major roster re-alignment. Here’s our recap of the Padres’ 2023 season.
The Padres pitching staff was excellent in 2023, as San Diego hurlers finished second in cumulative ERA behind the Brewers.
Left-hander Blake Snell returned nicely to form in the second half of last season and had himself a dominant, yet strange 2023. Snell struck out 234 batters over 180 IP and posted a sparkling ERA of 2.25 ERA. That ERA is even more impressive given that the lefty walked an MLB-high 99 batters this past season.
Free agent acquisitions Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha were also impressive, as each owned sub-4.00 ERA and FIP figures. Joe Musgrove only threw 97.1 IP, but he too (3.05 ERA, 97:21 K:BB) was also terrific.
Fernando Tatis Jr. hit 25 home runs and notched his first NL Gold Glove Award in 2023. However, his return was marred by a rough second half. Tatis Jr. hit just .225/.297/.368 (.665 OPS) in the second half with nine home runs, a stark difference from his first half (.871 OPS, 16 HR, 37 XBH) numbers.
Tatis’ slump was just one of many hits the Padres offense took in 2023. Jake Cronenworth hit just .229/.312/.378 (.689 OPS) in 2023, while Manny Machado dealt with elbow troubles. Machado did have a solid season, though, as he hit .258/.319/.462 (.782 OPS) with 30 home runs.
The Padres’ lack of offense in 2023 was a major problem, as San Diego finished the year 9-23 in one-run games.
Pitching-wise, Yu Darvish‘s season ended early thanks to a stress fracture in his elbow. However, 2023 was not kind to the 2021 NL All-Star, who inked an extension with San Diego earlier in the year. Darvish’s 4.56 ERA was his worst in a full season and his BB% (7.3%) spiked for a righty well-known for sharp command.
What to Look For in 2024
The Padres are, as of this writing, in the market for a new manager after Bob Melvin left for San Francisco. Melvin’s departure marked a two-year tenure that saw the Padres return to the MLB Playoffs but also reported friction between him and GM A.J. Preller.
The Padres’ all-in approach for 2023 didn’t yield the intended results, and now things will get quite interesting. San Diego is looking to cut around $50 million dollars off player payroll, which could mean that Blake Snell, Michael Wacha, Josh Hader, and Seth Lugo all don’t return.
Then, there’s the future of Juan Soto. Soto is one year away from free agency and the clock is ticking for the Padres to make a decision. With so much money committed to the likes of Tatis Jr., Machado, Bogaerts, and Darvish, can the Padres afford to keep the star outfielder? Or, is a trade on the horizon?