2024 San Diego Padres Season Preview

2024 San Diego Padres Season Preview
(Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

The 2024 San Diego Padres look to rebound from 2023’s disappointment, where they missed out on the postseason with a third-place finish in the National League West. The day after the 2023 season ended, Padres chairman and owner Peter Seidler released a statement stating, “The Padres organization will learn from this season and emerge in 2024 with the pieces in place to compete for San Diego’s first World Series title.” Six weeks later, Seidler passed away in San Diego at the age of 63. Three days later, the Padres appointed another one of its owners, Eric Kutsenda, as chairman and interim control person, who said in a statement, “Our north star remains the same: to win a World Series Championship for the city of San Diego.”

The Padres plan to honor Peter Seidler throughout the 2024 season. The San Diego Padres will wear a “PS” patch in honor and remembrance of Seidler throughout the 2024 season. They also held a celebration of life ceremony at Petco Park this past Saturday.

Immediate Moves Following Seidler’s Passing

The same day that saw the announcement of Kutsenda’s appointment, saw the Padres acquire right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for righty Scott Barlow. De Los Santos had a rough spring showing (8.53 ERA, 2.368 WHIP, 18.5 H/9, 12.8 K/9) but struck out one in a one-two-three inning to start 2024 for the San Diego Padres during a pair of games to open the season in Seoul, South Korea. Four days after the De Los Santos acquisition, the Padres signed a new manager in former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt. Shildt managed to a 252—199 record (.559 Win%) in St. Louis and led the Cardinals to the postseason in three consecutive seasons. Shildt was also named the 2019 NL Manager of the Year.

Mike Shildt replaces former Padres manager and new San Francisco Giants manager Bob Melvin. In two seasons at the helm of the Padres, Melvin managed the friars to a record of 171—153 (.528 Win%). Melvin managed the Padres to a National League Championship Series loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2022 but didn’t live up to organizational expectations in 2023. The Padres and fans in San Diego want more than simply making the postseason in 2024: they want a World Series Championship. They want the Padres players flashing the bling of the ring next season and didn’t feel that Melvin could help them realize that desire.

San Diego Padres Make More Moves in Offseason for 2024 Season

Then came the trade which sent all of MLB reeling. The Padres sent outfielders Juan Soto and Trent Grisham to the New York Yankees for four right-handed hurlers and catcher Kyle Higashioka. The four righties are Michael King, Randy Vasquez, Drew Thorpe, and Jhony Brito.

Soto debuted in the majors in 2018 at the tender age of 19 to quickly become a star for the Washington Nationals, amassing a .292/.406/.517 slash line with 22 homers, 25 doubles, 70 RBI, and 79 walks versus 99 strikeouts in his first season. The three-time All-Star, including in 2023 for the Padres, will be difficult to replace. Last season, Soto played in all 162 games slashing .275/.410/.519 while smashing 35 home runs, knocking in 109 RBI, 32 doubles, swiping 12 bags, and leading the league in walks with 132 versus 129 strikeouts.

Grisham has not gone in the direction the Padres had hoped, from slashing .242/.327/.413 and an OPS+ of 106 in 2021 to slashing .198/.315/.352 and OPS+ of 87 in 2023. The main problem for Grisham seems to be his strikeout totals. In 2021, Grisham struck out 119 times in 462 at-bats. In 2023, Grisham struck out 154 times in 469 at-bats. On the plus side, he’s walking more, but it’s not enough to make up for all the strikeouts. The Padres wish Grisham well with his new club and at age 27, his prime is likely still ahead of him.

The Return for the Padres Trading Soto and Grisham

Higashioka will turn 34 next month and spent all seven seasons in the majors catching for the Yankees. He had the most at-bats of his career in 2023 (242) while slashing .236/.274/.413 with 10 homers, 34 RBI, and 13 doubles. He’ll likely be the backup to Luis Campusano. Both catchers bat and throw right-handed.

King, 28, also spent the entirety of his Major League career with the Yankees. In 2023, King pitched to a 2.75 ERA with 127 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings (13.5 K/9). He’s a right-handed swingman who started nine games, closed 10 games while earning six saves, and made an additional 30 appearances in relief (49 appearances total). King made one appearance in relief in 2024 already in South Korea against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He entered the second game of the season in the fourth and struck out five in 3 1/3 innings. He also gave up three runs, including a two-run blast to Mookie Betts. King’s ERA is 8.10 on the season and his WHIP is 2.100, but he currently leads the majors in strikeouts. He’s set to become a starter full-time in 2024.

Vasquez, 25, pitched to a 2.87 ERA and 1.274 WHIP with 33 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings (7.9 K/9) across 11 appearances (5 starts) in his first season in the majors. This spring, Vasquez was starting and amassed a 5.91 ERA and 1.781 WHIP with 12 strikeouts across 10 2/3 innings (10.1 K/9).

Meet Drew Thorpe, Potential Future Star

Thorpe spent 2023 in High-A and Double-A. It was his first season as a professional and he pitched very well. Thorpe amassed a 14—2 record with a 2.52 ERA and 0.983 WHIP with 182 strikeouts (11.8 K/9) across 139 1/3 innings in 23 starts. If he continues to throw up numbers like that, he’ll be a superstar, though there’s a lot of hard work and multiple levels in the minors before he can begin to attain such a label. At age 23, Thorpe could have a long Major League career. But, the thought of waiting for this young hurler to make his way to the majors must have been too much for the Padres to stand, so they shipped Thorpe off to the Chicago White Sox as part of a package for Dylan Cease— more on that below.

Brito, 26, completed his rookie campaign in 2023 for the Yankees, amassing a 4.28 ERA and 1.218 WHIP with 72 strikeouts across 90 1/3 innings (7.2 K/9) in 13 starts and 12 relief appearances. Brito pitched very well this spring. He posted a 1.93 ERA and 1.143 WHIP with 18 strikeouts across 14 innings (11.6 K/9). But his 2024 got off to a rocky start when he gave up two earned runs to the Dodgers in only 1/3 of an inning in the opening series in South Korea. His 2024 ERA sits at 54.00 and he has yet to strike anyone out. His WHIP is 6.000. But if he can rebound and build off of his excellent spring performance, he can still have a great season.

More New San Diego Padres Faces for 2024

After the signings of lefty Yuki Matsui, a closer from Japan, and righty closer Woo-Suk Go from South Korea, the Padres signed lefty reliever Wandy Peralta. The Padres also signed former friar Jurickson Profar, who plays both the infield and outfield. But those were all overshadowed by the acquisition of righty flame-throwing starter Dylan Cease from the Chicago White Sox for Thorpe, whom they acquired in the Soto trade, and right-handed pitchers Steven Wilson and Jairo Iriarte in addition to outfielder Samuel Zavala. Cease currently has three consecutive seasons with 30 or more starts and 200 or more strikeouts, so he is likely the replacement for outgoing free agent and 2023 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who signed with NL West rival Giants a little over a week ago for a reported two years and $62 million.

Dylan Cease to Begin Tenure with San Diego Padres in 2024

Cease, 28, is scheduled to make his Padres debut Saturday in San Diego against Jordan Hicks and the Giants. He’s spent his entire five-year career starting for the White Sox. Cease was runner-up in the 2022 AL Cy Young voting. 2022 was a season in which Cease struck out 227 batters in 184 innings (11.1 K/9) while keeping an ERA of 2.20 and 1.109 WHIP in 32 starts. 2023 was not as shiny for Cease as he amassed a 4.58 ERA and 1.418 WHIP. But he still was a strikeout machine, whiffing 214 batters in 177 innings (10.9 K/9).

The only knock on Cease is that he can be wild. He’s led the majors in walks once and the AL one separate time. Cease has also led the majors in wild pitches once (last season) and the AL one separate time. He tends to have a walk rate that is a bit high. His walk rate is 4.0 BB/9 for his career and that’s what it was last season as well. But he also led the American League in K/9 in 2021 with 12.3. He’s an excellent starting pitcher and at only 28 years old, he’s coming into his prime.

The Two Big Foreign Signings for the Padres

Yuki Matsui, 28, has a Nippon Professional Baseball career ERA of 2.40 and 1.108 WHIP with 860 strikeouts across 659 2/3 innings (11.7 K/9). Additionally, he’s been a closer in Japan, earning 236 saves in his 10 seasons. Matsui pitched to a 1.57 ERA in 2023 with a 0.890 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings (11.3 K/9) in 2023, posting 39 saves for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. He’s already appeared in both regular season games for the Padres without allowing any runs. He’s allowed two hits and a walk across an inning and a third in 2024 while striking out one (6.8 K/9) for the San Diego Padres.

Woo-Suk Go, 25, spent seven seasons in South Korea’s KBO, posting a career 3.18 ERA and 1.271 WHIP with 401 strikeouts across 368 1/3 innings (9.8 K/9). Like Matsui, Go has been a closer, recording 139 saves in his career. In 2023, Go amassed a 3.68 ERA with a 1.364 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 44 innings (12.1 K/9). This was coming off a season for Go in which he recorded an ERA of 1.78, WHIP of 0.956, and 11.9 K/9 while striking out 80 batters in 60 2/3 innings. One of his issues last season was an increase in walk rate, from 3.1 BB/9 in 2022 to 4.5 BB/9 in 2023. This spring, Go posted a 12.60 ERA and 2.800 WHIP with six strikeouts across five innings (10.8 K/9). Go is currently assigned to Triple-A El Paso.

Peralta and Profar

Wandy Peralta, 32, is a reliever who began making a name for himself after being traded by the Giants to the Yankees in 2021. Though he pitched relatively well for the Giants, he was in the midst of having a down year before the trade with an ERA of 5.40 (80 ERA+), then finished the season pitching to a 2.95 ERA for the Yankees (146 ERA+). Then in his first full season with the Yankees, he pitched to a 2.72 ERA and 1.047 WHIP in 56 1/3 innings across 56 appearances and earned four saves. His K/9 is 7.6 for his career, but his K/9 has risen over the past two seasons to 8.5 K/9 in 2023. Peralta already made one appearance in the 2024 regular season for the San Diego Padres, allowing one earned run (9.00 ERA) on two walks and no hits while striking out one (9.0 K/9).

Jurickson Profar became a free agent after three seasons in San Diego and signed a one-year, $7.75 million contract to play for the Colorado Rockies in 2023. Later in 2023, the Rockies released Profar after posting a .236/.316/.364 slash line in 111 games. The Padres promptly signed Profar to a minor league deal for the rest of 2023 and even saw him reach the majors for 14 games. In that brief stint in the majors, Profar’s numbers were relatively great as he posted a .295/.367/.409 slash line in 44 at-bats. This offseason, the San Diego Padres signed Profar to a one-year deal for 2024.

Introducing the 2024 San Diego Padres

Starting Pitching

Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove return to the front of the Padres rotation in 2024. They will be joined by returning righty Matt Waldron, who started eight games for the Padres in 2023. Waldron pitched to a 4.35 ERA and 1.234 WHIP with 31 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings (6.8 K/9) combined in six starts and two relief outings. Cease and King are the other two starters who join Darvish, Musgrove, and Waldron in the rotation.

2024 San Diego Padres Bullpen

2023’s closer, Josh Hader, is now with the Houston Astros. Robert Suarez, 33, is set to be the closer heading into the start of the season, but with little experience closing games, he may be unseated as the closer if he fails to produce. With two former closers joining the Padres from overseas in Matsui and Go, look for some competition at the closer position this season for the Padres. Suarez begins the season anchoring the ‘pen with new additions Matsui, Peralta, De Los Santos, Brito, rookie Stephen Kolek, and potentially Glenn Otto and Luis Patino, who are currently on the Injured List and may return in early April. Returning relievers are Tom Cosgrove and Pedro Avila.

Infield

Xander Bogaerts returns as the starting second baseman along with Jake Cronenworth at first, Ha-Seong Kim at short, Manny Machado at third and designated hitter, Tyler Wade is a new addition to the Padres in 2024 and is also at third and DH, along with Luis Camusano behind the plate.

Outfield

Fernando Tatis Jr. returns to right field with Jurickson Profar slotted in left and rookie Jackson Merrill taking over in center. Merrill, 21 in a few weeks, spent 2023 in the Padres minors system in High-A and Double-A. 2024 sees him skip Triple-A and make the jump directly to the majors. Between High-A and Double-A in 2023, Merrill posted a .277/.326/.444 slash line with 15 homers, 64 RBI, 25 doubles, four triples, and 15 stolen bases. We’ll see how young Merrill responds to his promotion. The Padres hope to see him mentioned in the Rookie of the Year Award race towards the end of 2024 en route to becoming a future star.

Bench

Kyle Higashioka is the backup catcher, Graham Pauley may get reps at third and first, Eguy Rosario may get reps at second and third, and Jose Azocar should see reps in the outfield. Tucupita Marcano has seen reps at second, third, short, left and right. But he’s currently on the 10-day IL with a right knee injury.

2024 San Diego Padres Outlook

A revamped bullpen coupled with some new additions to the starting rotation will join many returning Padres players in 2024. Some big names moved on from the friars. Some big names joined the club. Time will tell if the 2024 San Diego Padres rebound from their unsavory 2023 season. That’s not known. What is known is that both the club and its fanbase want success now. The Padres players don’t want to be left out watching October baseball from behind a television screen. They all want to celebrate postseason history with the club’s first World Series Championship.

But the first step towards winning a championship is making it to the postseason– and it’s all uphill from there. Padres fans ought to know by now that AJ Preller will make moves to achieve those goals. We’ll see if he can achieve those goals in 2024, not only for the players and the fans but for Peter Seidler, who helped set the stage for San Diego Padres success in 2024 and beyond.

 

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Chris Gray

Chris Gray

Chris is a writer, philosopher, and web developer. He is currently the Web Developer as well as an Editor and Contributor for SportRelay.

When Chris was young, he played Little League Baseball for years. In addition, he used to look at the statistics on baseball cards to compare the different players and trade the cards with his friends. As a teenager, he worked as a Computer Technician until he landed a position as a Network Administrator at a middle school in Los Angeles, California.

Feeling unfulfilled with a lack of education to combine with his work and life experience, he returned to school, obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from UCLA, and now spends his time writing, investing, thinking, programming, and enjoying baseball.

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