Roster Revamp 2023-24: San Diego Padres

Editor’s note: For the first time this offseason, welcome back to the Roster Revamp series! In each article, BTV Associate Editor Joshua Iversen will be completing a team’s offseason by compiling different user-submitted proposals from the site’s trade boards into a single plan. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.

Much has already been said about the 2023 San Diego Padres and their utter disaster of a season. Somehow a team with superstars Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado combining for nearly 18 fWAR and the NL Cy Young winner in Blake Snell and stud closer Josh Hader leading the pitching staff managed to miss the playoffs entirely. They did so with the third-highest payroll in baseball, a positive 105 run differential and a seemingly impossible 2-12 record in extra-inning games.

Early reports suggest payroll is likely to drop significantly, from their $255 million pre-luxury tax 2023 figure to “around $200 million.” And that news came prior to the unfortunate passing of team owner/chairman Peter Seidler, who was at the forefront of the team’s aggressive spending.

Despite speculation to the contrary, President of Baseball Operations AJ Preller will be back in 2024, and given these constraints he will have his work cut out for him.

Where they stand

Between Soto, Bogaerts, Tatis and Machado, the Padres have an excellent foundation in place, even if Machado appears to be entering the decline phase of his career. Soto is projected to earn $33 million in his final year of salary arbitration, and it’s possible the Padres explore extension possibilities. But if they’re already concerned about scaling back payroll, that might not be too feasible, and trade rumors are already swirling.

Beyond Soto, only Tatis and center fielder Trent Grisham are due for substantial raises, and those will be entirely offset by a decrease in righty Yu Darvish’s salary from $25 million in 2023 to $16 million in 2024. Further, a combined $40.7 million is coming off the books with Hader, Snell and lefty Drew Pomeranz hitting free agency.

What they’ve done

The Padres have already made one cost-cutting trade, sending right-handed reliever Scott Barlow ($4.6M median trade value) to the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for RHP Enyel de los Santos ($11.5M). Barlow was set to earn $7.2 million in his final year of arbitration, while de los Santos is projected to earn $1 million in his first. Barlow has a stronger track record, including a standout 2.2 fWAR 2021 season, but they’ve pitched comparably over the past two seasons and de los Santos is younger, cheaper and has more team control remaining. From here, this looks like a good deal for the Padres.

After a solid 2.8 fWAR season, righty Seth Lugo declined his $7.5 million player option. Rotation mates Nick Martinez and Michael Wacha each had high-value club options paired with low-value player options, and both the team and the players declined their sides of the deal. That’s money off the books, but another 391 quality innings pitched that will need to be replaced, on top of Snell and Hader.

After a sub-replacement level season, designated hitter Matt Carpenter exercised his $5.5 million player option. Righty Luis Garcia and catcher Gary Sanchez are free agents, as are a trio of midseason trade acquisitions in first basemen Garrett Cooper and Ji-Man Choi and lefty Rich Hill. Catcher Austin Nola and lefty Tim Hill were non-tendered.

What they still need

Pitching, pitching and more pitching. The only starting pitchers guaranteed to return in 2024 are Darvish and fellow righty Joe Musgrove, both of whom finished the 2023 season on the Injured List due to arm injuries (elbow for Darvish, shoulder for Musgrove).

The Padres cycled a handful of arms through their rotation to cover innings down the stretch, including righties Pedro Avila and Matt Waldron, but none seemed like much more than depth arms. San Diego will likely need to fill at least three rotation spots with viable MLB starters.

The bullpen will also need to be addressed. De los Santos, fellow righty Robert Suarez and lefty Tom Cosgrove are a fine relief trio, but an obvious step back from Hader. The Padres might not be able to fit Hader into their budget, but they’ll likely look outside the organization for at least one or two more late-inning options.

There are some gaps on offense as well. The Padres didn’t get much production from first base last year, in part due to a down year from utility man Jake Cronenworth. Carpenter can’t be expected to be the solution at designated hitter, either, so an above average 1B/DH could go a long way.

Catcher was something of a revolving door in 2023, but former top prospect Luis Campusano looked good in a small sample and may be given the job heading into 2024. A veteran back-up wouldn’t hurt, and generally speaking, the team could use more offensive depth.

Their moves to this point have payroll at approximately $189 million according to FanGraphs Roster Resource, under their reported $200 million target. But given the team’s need to fill half of its pitching staff, further salary cuts will likely be needed to complete the roster under their target budget.

What they have

Somehow, even after seemingly pushing in all their chips in trades for Soto, Snell, Hader, Darvish and Musgrove, the Padres’ farm continues to produce exciting young talent.

Infielder Jackson Merrill ($58.3M) and catcher Ethan Salas ($52.7M) are two of the best prospects in baseball and are unlikely to be traded. But righties Dylan Lesko ($29.5M) and Jairo Iriarte ($9.3M), lefty Robby Snelling ($16.6M) and outfielders Samuel Zavala ($11.0M) and Dillon Head ($8.9M) are valuable trade chips who could be flipped to meaningfully upgrade the big league squad.

After that group, the quality of San Diego’s farm drops off significantly. The organization has a dozen prospects in the $2.0M-ish range that could be flipped for, say, relief help, but not much else to facilitate an impact deal.

Big league trade chips are similarly thin. The Padres could sell high on infielder Ha-Seong Kim ($17.5M), fresh off a career year, and instead look for a rebound from Cronenworth at second base. But Kim is well-liked in San Diego and, given his versatility and affordable contract, is exactly the type of player the Padres should be trying to acquire, rather than trade away.

What they could do

Pasquatch Sighting

Padres get

Royals get

Vinnie Pasquantino | 1B | $22.6M

Robby Snelling | LHP | $16.6M


Adam Mazur | RHP | $5.2M

Total: $22.6M

Total: $21.8M


The Padres need better production at first base/DH and the Kansas City Royals have a slew of options at both positions. This trade proposal, from user Ms. Dajuba, suggests the Italian Nightmare may be the solution. Vinnie Pasquantino missed most of the 2023 season due to a shoulder injury, but is expected to be ready for Opening Day 2024. He had a strong rookie season and has mashed at every stop in the minor leagues. His addition bumps Cronenworth to his natural utility role, and allows Kim to spell Machado at third base as the latter recovers from elbow surgery.

In exchange, the Royals add two arms with some helium to a system starved for quality starting pitching. Snelling is the headliner, a 2022 comp round pick who was seen as a back-end starter on draft day but has dominated the minor leagues. There’s upside, but also some relief risk due to Snelling’s violent delivery and still developing changeup. At 19, he’s a couple years from the big leagues and that may make him expendable for win-now San Diego.

Mazur is a similar story, a 2022 2nd rounder whose slight frame creates relief risk of his own. But between the pair, the Royals would be adding two live arms with real upside.

Kansas City may not want to sell low on Pasquantino, and San Diego may be hesitant to give up this level of talent for a defensively limited player coming off a substantial injury. As an alternative, Ms. Dajuba also proposes a smaller swap: pitching prospect Jairo Iriarte ($9.3M), another lanky pop-up arm with explosive stuff, for first baseman Nick Pratto ($9.7M), who had real prospect hype but hasn’t put it together.

Cutting Costs

Padres get

Twins get

Simeon Woods Richardson | RHP | $3.8M

Trent Grisham | CF | $8.5M

Louie Varland | RHP | $4.9M


Total: $8.7M

Total: $8.5M


Trent Grisham makes a lot of sense as a trade candidate. His estimated $4.9 million salary in his second year of arbitration isn’t expensive, especially for a player of his caliber, but he hasn’t hit much the last two seasons and he’s one of the only players earning real money for San Diego who isn’t crucial to the team’s success (Kim, Soto) or locked up to a long-term deal making a trade difficult (Darvish, Cronenworth, Suarez, etc.)

User JAYFLO suggests sending Grisham to the Minnesota Twins, who just saw Michael Taylor walk in free agency. Taylor was intended to share time in center field with Byron Buxton, allowing the latter to remain healthy for a full season, but instead Buxton was limited to DH-only and Taylor started nearly every game at the position. Grisham could fill a similar role, playing superb defense and providing the team the flexibility to trade Max Kepler if so desired.

In addition to a few million in salary relief, the Padres add two viable depth arms for their staff. Woods Richardson’s stock has fallen since his initial inclusion in the Mets/Blue Jays Marcus Stroman trade, but there’s reason to believe he can be a back-end starter/swingman. Varland is the real prize, a 2022 breakout who flashed triple digits out of the bullpen late in 2023. He could be an option for the Padres either in relief or in the rotation.

Of course, that leaves San Diego without a center fielder. Luckily, a very similar player to Grisham may be available on the cheap.

The Replacement

Padres get

Astros get

Jake Meyers | CF | $6.5M

Adrian Morejon | LHP | -$0.9M


Adam Mazur | RHP | $5.2M


Graham Pauley | 3B | $2.5M

Total: $6.5M

Total: $6.8M


This trade, from user ktin, provides the perfect Grisham replacement in Jake Meyers. The Astros have reportedly been fielding calls on Meyers, who plays excellent center field defense but was passed on the depth chart by Chas McCormick and Mauricio Dubon.

Important for San Diego, Meyers isn’t arbitration eligible until 2025. Even if his bat never improves, his glove and speed would make him a great budget alternative to Grisham, especially in a lineup deep enough to afford his lesser production.

The elephant in the room: we’ve already traded Mazur to Kansas City. Depending on what exactly Houston is looking for, an MLB arm like Pedro Avila ($4.8M) or a prospect like first baseman Nathan Martorella ($4.2M) could work. As for the rest of the package, Morejon was a former top prospect whose shine has worn off, but is still just 24 and throws hard from the left side. Pauley was a 13th-round pick but has hit at every level of the minor leagues.



The above deals bump San Diego’s payroll down into the $180 million range. Maybe if Preller dumpster dives that’s enough room to add another starter, reliever and back-up catcher, especially if $200 million isn’t a hard cap, but it would be tight. A bit more space could be freed by attaching prospects to Carpenter or Suarez, but in an offseason where multiple teams are already crying poor, a salary dump deal may be hard to come by.

As many have speculated, a Juan Soto trade may be necessary.

The Big One(s)

Padres get

Cubs get

Jordan Wicks | RHP | $18.0M

Juan Soto | OF | $22.9M

Javier Assad | RHP | $6.8M


Alexander Canario | OF | $3.1M


Total: $27.9M

Total: $22.9M


Padres get

Yankees get

Clarke Schmidt | RHP | $17.3M

Juan Soto | OF | $22.9M

Jhony Brito | RHP | $5.4M


Brandon Mayea | OF | $4.2M


Ron Marinaccio | RHP | $0.6M


Total: $27.5M

Total: $22.9M


It isn’t possible to trade Juan Soto and improve your team. One expensive season of Soto isn’t going to net the Padres any player who can come close to Soto’s lofty 6.5 fWAR projection for 2024. The best the Padres can hope for would be a controllable starting pitcher who can provide an immediate boost to the rotation, along with some interesting enough depth pieces or prospects.

Both of these deals provide exactly that. The Cubs package, proposed by user cruisinSD, provides the Padres with two immediate rotation pieces in Wicks and Assad. Neither has front-end upside, and there’s certainly a frightening possibility that both amount to nothing more than swingmen, but there’s also a chance at 11 combined seasons of team control of pitchers similar to the Wacha/Martinez/Lugo mold. Canario likely has too much swing-and-miss to be a regular, but his power and bat speed make him intriguing.

The Yankees deal, from user Quell, follows a similar framework. Schmidt and Brito are harder-throwing versions of Wicks and Assad, though Schmidt has only four years of team control remaining. Schmidt in particular has shown flashes of mid-rotation upside, but showed signs of fatigue late in 2023, his first season as a full-time starter. Marinaccio misses bats and would slot into a middle relief role in the Padres bullpen, and Mayea is a true lottery ticket, a teenage outfielder who impresses with his mature approach, but could ultimately be another product of the New York hype machine.

Again, neither of these trades truly improves the 2024 Padres. As amazing as he is, one $33 million season of Juan Soto only has so much trade value. As we explained last year with Shohei Ohtani, very few teams have a combination of payroll space and willingness to give up high-caliber talent for a rental, both of which are needed to trade for Soto. There likely wouldn’t be as much of a bidding war as one might think.

But a return like these could still improve San Diego’s future outlook and balance its roster, especially if it allows the organization to sign a top starting pitcher like Yoshinobu Yamamoto - or even if it just provides the flexibility for, say, Sonny Gray and Jordan Hicks.

Do I think the Padres should trade Soto, especially if they want to win in 2024? Of course not. But if it’s necessary, a deal like these could be the best option out there.



What do you think about this plan? What moves would you make instead? Which teams would you like to see revamped next? As always, feedback is more than welcome. And keep on submitting trade proposals – they just might end up featured in a later installment of this series.

About the Author

Joshua Iversen

Joshua Iversen

Joshua has been with BTV since it launched in 2019. Before that, he held various baseball writing jobs, including a stint at where he met BTV founder John Bitzer. He lives in Phoenix, AZ, where he works in consulting as a data analyst.


Great article. The Yankees trade seems ideal for both teams.


This is really good stuff. It's well written, it spotlights some interesting trade proposals made on this site, it has good formatting, it is supported by factual information and it's fun to get the author's angle on several possibilities.

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This is a really cool piece. Looking forward to more. How about adding a roster post moves?