The Padres' offseason can be described in one word. "Wow." Their baseball operations, along with GM A.J. Preller, have been so busy these past two days, acquiring Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks.
Winning the offseason by no means winning in the regular season.
Kemp, Myers, and Upton might be great offensively, but their defense is absolutely horrific. According to FanGraphs' defensive rating, the defensive combination of Kemp, Myers, and Upton posted a -37.2 rating in 2014. That's an average of a -12.4 rating per player, which would be, as one player, the 10th-worst rating in the majors. Padres' pitchers should watch out if they plan on giving up fly balls.
On the contrary, Kemp, Myers, and Upton are some of the better right-handed power hitters in the major leagues. They posted 140, 78 (Myers was injured), and 133 wRC+s last season, respectively. However, the conditions out at Petco Park are brutal for power hitters, as Petco has ranked in the bottom five of the major leagues in home runs from right-handed hitters two of the past three years.
So the question becomes, are the additions of three power hitters that cannot play good defense worthwhile for the Padres?
We have seen two teams, the 2012 Marlins and the 2013 Blue Jays, making unnecessary signings and trades, as the world thought that they were the "winners" of the offseason. They did not perform, or perform well rather, on the field. I am just not sure what this Padres team turns out to be. But it will be interesting to see nonetheless.
One reason that will make me believe that they are different than the Marlins or the Jays is that they are acquiring younger guys than Toronto or Miami in their respective seasons. When Jose Reyes signed with the Marlins in 2012, he was 29. Then he was moved to Toronto as a 30-year-old, where he still is today, and likely will still be through the 2017 season.
As for the Padres acquisitions, Wil Myers is 24. He was drafted just five years ago. Justin Upton is 27. Kemp is the outlier of this group, at age 30. But the main difference between these guys and the ones that the Blue Jays and Marlins acquired was that these pieces are still young and evidently very talented.
Add in 26-year-old Will Middlebrooks, who was baseball's 55th-best prospect (via Baseball America) prior to the 2012 season, and 25-year-old Derek Norris, who isn't arbitration-eligible until next season. Middlebrooks, who still has talent, was acquired for a backup catcher. And four years of Derek Norris were acquired for two young pitchers, while still keeping the Padres' rotation intact.
A.J. Preller is taking youth and upside over proven veterans. Sure, he's got two proven veterans in Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, but when you step back and see what he's doing, he's getting young talent, and buying most of it on the low (Myers, Middlebrooks).
If the Padres don't win in 2015, it isn't the end of the world. All these acquisitions will translate into jersey sales, season tickets, TV contracts, and more. The small market San Diego team might be taking a different approach to winning. Preller is doing something amazing.
Regardless of the performance on the field, A.J. Preller has shown that he will do anything it takes to make the Padres win on the field. And that makes them the real winners.