The San Diego Padres fell just shy of a World Series berth in 2022. After finishing more than 20 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, San Diego upset LA in the NLDS. However, they now have their sights set on reaching the World Series in 2023.
San Diego has a talented roster but would benefit by making some minor additions. They don't necessarily need to break the bank for a player, as Juan Soto and Manny Machado are set to lead the Padres next season. Additionally, Fernando Tatis Jr will return from his suspension during the 2023 campaign. With that being said, let's take a look at 4 sneaky MLB free agents the Padres must target.
Final piece to the Padres' bullpen
The San Diego Padres have already made a number of moves to improve their bullpen for the future. But one reliever on the open market who could help tie up any loose ends is Andrew Chafin. Chafin is a veteran left-hander who excelled in Detroit with the Tigers last year. The Padres could utilize him in a set-up role and he could also be effective against left-handed batters.
The Padres have displayed a desire to build a strong bullpen. It is an area of emphasis for them. Adding a reliever such as Chafin makes perfect sense for the Padres.
Mitch Haniger is a solid outfielder with pop in his bat. In 2021, he clubbed 39 home runs while slashing .253/.318/.485 with an .804 OPS. Although he was limited in 2022, Haniger could be of interest for the Padres.
San Diego's lineup lacked depth at times last season. They feature no shortage of talent, but Haniger would profile as another power threat for the team. Given the fact that stars such as Machado and Soto are in the lineup, Haniger could bat 6th or 7th and still be a force for the Padres. His presence would not completely change the dynamic of the team, but it would make the lineup even more intimidating.
Nathan Eovaldi is a former All-Star fresh off of an underwhelming season. But he may be priced at a bargain given his 2022 results on the mound for the Boston Red Sox.
The Padres' pitching rotation is already impressive. But they are in the market for at least one more starting pitcher, and Eovaldi fits the bill. He would slide in as a quality middle of the rotation option behind Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish. And if he is able to regain his All-Star form, Eovaldi would become one of the best No. 3 pitchers in all of baseball.
Cody Bellinger is already receiving plenty of interest in MLB free agency. The Los Angeles Dodgers' decision to non-tender him took some people by surprise, but there is no denying the fact that Bellinger has struggled in previous seasons. But Bellinger could potentially turn things around in San Diego.
It should be noted that the Padres had a struggling centerfielder of their own in Trent Grisham on roster last year. But if San Diego decides to sign Bellinger, they could move either him or Grisham to left field. Bellinger is reportedly looking for a 1-year contract, so the Padres could see how he performs in 2023 before making a decision on his long-term future.