The San Diego Padres finished the season with an 82-80 record and outside of the playoff picture. Before the season, the Padres were commonly picked to make a return to the NLCS and were even picked by some to make the World Series. So, it was a very disappointing season in San Diego, and the future of the organization looks grim with Bob Melvin and A.J. Preller's job status being up in the air.
Nonetheless, the Padres have a long offseason ahead of them and will try and right the ship. There is simply too much talent on the roster to fall short of the playoffs, and there is a lot of blame to place. Here are 3 players most to blame for the rough 2023 campaign.
3: Rich Hill
This one is the lowest on the list for a number of reasons, but the biggest because he only was with the team for the last couple of months. The Padres acquired him at the trade deadline via a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Hill was expected to come in and help solidify the backend of the rotation and give the Padres some quality innings.
However, it was exactly the opposite. Rich Hill made just 10 appearances for the Padres, throwing a total of 27.1 innings and ending with an atrocious 8.23 ERA and a 1-4 record. In his Padres debut, he gave up six runs in three innings, then gave up at least two earned runs in each of the next five outings. On September 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies, it reached a new low as Hill went just 1 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits. To sum everything up, Hill threw four or more innings just twice in a Padres uniform, and t's safe to say that trade ended up hitting San Diego more than helping. Ji-Man Choi, who was also a part of that trade, hit just .065 with two hits as he dealt with injuries.
2: Trent Grisham
Trent Grisham just finished his fourth season in San Diego, and it could very well be the end of the road for his time with the ballclub. Grisham hit just .198, which is actually an improvement from his .184 clip in the 2022 season. He played 153 games but hit four fewer home runs (13) and had three fewer RBIs (50). The defense is unquestioned, and that's a big reason why Grisham played in as many games as he did, and Melvin knows there is more for Grisham offensively (h/t Jeff Sanders of The San Diego Union-Tribune).
“Look, he hasn’t had his best year, but there have been times that he’s been really good. There’s been times where he’s gotten big hits, and the defense is always there. I still think there’s a lot more in there offensively and whether it’s on base, whether it’s the power that he has, we’re always hoping that it’s going to show up more consistently.”
Down the stretch, Grishma spent a decent amount of time out of the starting lineup, losing playing time to Jose Azocar and late-addition Jurickson Profar. Grisham is an obvious trade candidate for the Padres this offseason, and improving the outfield is a big point of emphasis going forward.
1: Jake Cronenworth
Jake Cronenworth has exceeded expectations since coming over from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade a few seasons back, but the 2023 season was a mess for him. In 2022, Cronenworth dazzled as a super-utility piece. He finished the year hitting .239 with 17 home runs and 88 RBIs and was a valuable piece that can be used all around the field. He was rewarded with a handsome 7-year, $80 million extension. But, that contract looks like a mistake after this season.
Cronenworth hit just .229 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs in 127 games, and his numbers went down across the board. He dealt with injuries, but his approach at the plate was a sign of regression, which is a big concern for San Diego. Cronenworth also is a player they could trade this offseason — although it remains to be seen if anybody wants to pick up that contract. Furthermore, the emergence of Ha-Seong Kim could force the Padres to move Cronenworth and have Kim start at second base.
There is plenty of blame to go around: Bob Melvin's managerial decisions, A.J. Preller's aggressiveness on the market and acquiring Hill and Choi, Yu Darvish and his high ERA, and plenty of injuries across the board. But, all in all, there are a ton of question marks for this franchise going forward, especially if they want to maximize the potential of their superstar core of players.