After the Padres’ splurge of money and prospects last winter, San Diego has retreated into a necessary austerity as it copes with repercussions from a 10-month drain of resources. It’s impossible to place an exact figure on how much dollar value the Padres squandered in their badly timed charge for the top of the NL West mountain -- some rival evaluators believe the appropriate guesstimate is in the hundreds of millions of dollars – and those mistakes were exacerbated by the team’s strange denial of reality at the trade deadline. Before July 31, the Padres should’ve moved to recoup some of the losses with trades, but instead masqueraded as a team intent on winning.
Since the end of the season, however, the Padres have shifted appropriately, like someone who scissors the credit cards and bags lunches for work right after getting the post-Christmas bills. San Diego moved the most movable part of the pitching staff, trading closer Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox for a nice package of prospects, and they’ve disciplined themselves and settled for short-term deals for second- and third-tier players like shortstop Alexei Ramirez, Jon Jay and Fernando Rodney. The Padres got draft picks for Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, and have passed on free agents who would cost them picks, like Ian Desmond.
There’s no reason for anyone with the organization to say out loud that they’re almost certainly not going to contend in 2016, but their moves this winter reflect the truth that they need to find their way back to the draft-and-develop path they were on before last winter’s ill-fated binge. There’s no reason for anyone with the organization to publicly embrace the idea of tanking the season ahead, but within the context of their current standing in their division and the draft-slotting rules that have been exploited by other teams, that is arguably the best strategy they can follow in the immediate future.