Fast-spending San Diego Padres are the talk of National League as spring training kicks in

The fast-spending, free-wheeling San Diego Padres reported to spring training last week in Peoria, Arizona as the talk of baseball. Fresh off their first trip to the National League Championship Series in 24 years, expectations are sky-high in Southern California, and everyone else in the NL — including the Miami Marlins — seems to be secondary talking points.

Last season, the Padres acquired some serious star power with names like Josh Hader, Josh Bell and Juan Soto being added to the team that fell just short of the World Series. This season, in order to avoid the same fate, the front office splashed some serious cash and signed free-agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million contract.

“He’s a hell of a player, MVP-type caliber player, and to put him in the lineup that we have, he’s going to bring that energy,” Padres All-Star third baseman Manny Machado said at the club’s FanFest this month. “He’s won, he’s a champion, so he knows what it takes to get there, and to win it all. And he’s definitely going to help us get to where we want to be and do special things for us this year. So, adding him to the lineup is huge.”

That lineup also includes stars Jake Cronenworth and Fernando Tatis Jr. There will need to be some positional adjustments to make it all work. Still, when the batting order features that type of skill, the tweaks could be well worth it for a team starving for a title after going 89-73 last season.

“Xander’s an incredible player, an incredible bat,” Cronenworth said. “Everybody, I think, has the same goal: Wanting to win, wherever that means you’re playing every day.”

Tatis, perhaps the best player in the bunch, missed the entire 2022 season due to a wrist injury, as well as a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Without him, the Padres still had postseason success.

Fernando Tatis. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

“I’ve already learned from what happened to me last year and I’m really looking forward to redeem myself and a great comeback,” Tatis said.

He also let the fans know he feels good coming into the new season regarding his shoulder injury.

“Everything that we have been doing, it feels back to normal,” he said. “It feels like I’m close to 100% than I’ve been in the last two years. It feels great.”

Last season, the Padres began a magical postseason run by upsetting the New York Mets in the Wild Card Round. They then went on to upset the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series, before falling to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series.

“The expectation is trying to get back there — or make it further,” Machado said. “But as a team, we’ve got to go out there and just play baseball, take care of what we can control, which is the day to day.”

Starting pitcher Joe Musgrove added that “it’s hard to explain, but once you get a taste for playoff baseball, it changes the game for you.”

The Padres begin the regular season at home on March 30 against the Colorado Rockies. The club that fans call “Slam Diego” will stroll into Miami on May 30, for a three-game series with the Marlins.

Carlos Carrillo is a senior at Florida International University majoring in digital broadcasting. After graduation Carlos hopes to pursue a career in TV and one day become a sports broadcaster or journalist.