To the immense credit of owner Peter Seidler, the San Diego Padres in recent years have heavily committed themselves to fielding the best team possible. The most recent marquee addition is shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who earlier this offseason inked a $280 million pact with San Diego. Add to that the signing of Manny Machado, the Fernando Tatis Jr. extension, and the trades for Yu Darvish and Juan Soto — among other notable recent moves — and the Padres have star quality up and down the roster.
In 2023 they may be the favorites to dislodge the Dodgers from their familiar spot atop the National League West standings.
What’s more is that the Padres are at present running the third-highest payroll in all of MLB, according to Cot’s Contracts, and they’re doing so seemingly despite the fact that San Diego is just the 27th-largest media market in the U.S. That the Padres are operating in such a way and doing so with not only viability but also profitability continues to be a source of consternation for other owners who would very much prefer to continue not trying to win baseball games in relative peace and comfort.
The latest to air his grievances toward the Padres and their efforts to win the World Series is Dick Monfort of the Colorado Rockies and their 16th-ranked payroll. Via Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, here’s what Monfort said about the Padres and their spending at a community event over the weekend:
“What the Padres are doing, I don’t 100% agree with, though I know that our fans probably agree with it. We’ll see how it works out.
“I look at the Padres and they have a really talented team, but they have some holes, too. They’ve got three, maybe four starting pitchers, and then they’re sort of like us. They have (Joe) Musgrave, (Blake) Snell and (Yu) Darvish, so I don’t know. They have spent a lot of money and they will have to spend a lot more if they want to keep (outfielder) Juan Soto. But it does put a lot of pressure on you. Yes, it does.”
The Padres’ recent ways have caused more than one ownership mask to slip a bit, and it’s not hard to take away a couple of conclusions from this latest set of grievances. One, most owners don’t like it when other teams spend. Two, owners really don’t like it when a team like the Padres put the lie to market-based excuses for not spending. Three, those same owners know fully well that fans want them to, you know, try to win baseball games.
The single biggest problem in Major League Baseball right now — and the driver of many related problems — is the owner who doesn’t care about winning, who views the franchise as a portfolio holding rather than a civic treasure that carries with it certain obligations. Worst of all, owners can invest in the payroll and still remain quite profitable, such are the immense revenue streams that teams enjoy in exchange for merely existing. Too many, though, would prefer to cash those checks while putting forward very little effort toward the only thing that justifies their existence. That thing is trying to win baseball games like, you know, the small-market San Diego Padres.