The Padres set their Opening Day roster Sunday, and all the holdovers from 2014 could be counted on two hands.
Just ten players had a Padres uniform on at this time last year.
The revamped roster, courtesy of new general manager A.J. Preller, got blown up again on the eve of Opening Day in a blockbuster trade with Atlanta. The Padres sent outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin to the Braves – along with prospects Matt Wisler and Jordan Paroubeck, as well as the 41st pick in the 2015 draft — and in return got ace closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin “B.J.” Upton (older brother of Justin, who was traded to San Diego in December).
The Padres unloaded about $26 million with Maybin (who gets a fresh start after a mostly bust career in San Diego) and Quentin (who the Braves will likely designate for assignment) but assumed the hefty price tag that comes with Elder Upton — $46.35 million over the next three seasons (a contract that’s been called the “third-worst in baseball” by Grantland writer Jonah Keri). Currently on the disabled list with a foot injury, Melvin batted .198 over the last two years and now joins a crowded outfield (Wil Myers, younger Upton, Matt Kemp and Will Venable). If the Padres wanted Kimbrel – and Preller obviously did – they had to pay the price with Older Upton, and the talk that surrounds that trade suggests that the acquisition of Melvin will help keep Justin, who’s a free agent in 2016, in San Diego for more than a year. Maaaaybeee?
(Short-term, this all looks great. Long-term, there could be problems.)
Preller is a win-now guy, and he’s assembled a roster that can rival most in baseball. On paper, it’s got talent, speed, depth, swag and power at most positions. Whether or not it has chemistry and can jell as a team remains to be seen, although who cares about that?! The Padres are relevant! (Okay, yes, there’s a tiny bit of sarcasm in that last sentence. Guilty as charged.)
And this, maybe the most accurate of them all:
The season has arrived, and for the Padres, here’s how their roster shakes out:
The Padres haven’t had this much excitement surrounding them since Bill Clinton was still in office and the Backstreet Boys were a hot commodity. So, enjoy the beauty and promise of Opening Day … and all the new faces that come with it.
–Annie Heilbrunn (twitter: @annieheilbrunn)