The San Diego Padres made a splash before the 2022 trade deadline by acquiring generational talent Juan Soto. Even without Fernando Tatis Jr. for the whole season, the Padres advanced as far as the NLCS, which was a delightful sight for their fanbase. Thus, the franchise continued adding big names as they signed Xander Bogaerts to a massive contract in the offseason to bolster their roster.

Bogarets' addition has created a logjam at shortstop, so Tatis Jr. will likely play in the outfield when he returns from suspension. Their power improved as the front office signed two DH guys, Nelson Cruz, and Matt Carpenter, who will be slotted in the sixth or seventh in the batting order. For their pitching, San Diego will continue starting their fantastic trio, Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell.

As the NL West is competing for arguably the strongest division in the majors this season, these are three bold predictions for San Diego entering the 2023 season.

Juan Soto wins MVP

Juan Soto's adjustment to San Diego was not as smooth as expected, but his teammates were there to help him with the process. Comparing his numbers to his stint with the Washington Nationals, Soto's batting average is the one that plummeted glaringly, as he only batted .242 last season and .236 in 52 games with the Padres. As the individual who has earned the most walks in the past couple of seasons, the next step is improving his batting average and on-base percentage.

With his contract expiring by 2024, the challenge is for San Diego to win at least one World Series crown before there is a chance for him to leave. The Padres invested a ton of future assets on Soto, so his winning an MVP and going deep in the postseason again will increase his chances of staying in San Diego for the foreseeable future. The power and plate discipline are given, and with the guys batting alongside him every night, it is inevitable for Soto's numbers to escalate to MVP-like numbers for 2023 again.

Josh Hader becomes one of the best closers again

Josh Hader's move to the Padres was under the radar trade because of the Juan Soto splash. Relief pitchers do not receive the similar limelight as these superstar athletes, so Hader's exceptional career must be given more attention. His 1-1 record and 7.31 ERA in 19 contests with San Diego is an outlier compared to his tenure with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hader bounced back in the postseason as he pitched five crucial games and surrendered zero runs. In that span, he struck out ten batters in 5 1/3 innings, similar to his stats before the trade to San Diego. Since Hader and Juan Soto are entering their first entire season with the Padres, this campaign will be when they encounter Spring Training with their teammates.

The Padres will win the NL West over the Dodgers

In a recent episode of Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney and Paul Hembikides, they had an intelligent debate on which organization will win the NL West in 2023. Olney believes the Padres will win it, but the Los Angeles Dodgers will advance further in the postseason. That sentiment seems ideal, especially with the inexperience of San Diego, but they will be an impeccable regular-season squad.

The Dodgers did not add any big names in the offseason because they are likely saving money to cash in on Shohei Ohtani next season. The Noah Syndergaard or David Peralta acquisitions will not move the needle compared to the Padres, who added Bogaerts, Cruz, and Seth Lugo. San Diego has a talented roster, and L.A. still awaits its prospects to excel in the majors.