Padres eliminated from postseason contention amid disastrous season: Who’s on the hot seat?

The San Diego Padres were eliminated from postseason contention as the Miami Marlins defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 on Friday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Padres have gone 17-7 in September, but it wasn’t enough to secure a playoff berth.
  • San Diego is 79-80 overall, in third place in the National League West.
  • This year has been disastrous for the Padres, who reached the NL Championship Series last fall. The down season revealed the organization’s shaky foundation and “institutional failure.”

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Padres experiment fizzles

A fascinating experiment has officially fizzled. The 2023 Padres, a club with a smallish media market and a New York-sized payroll, will go down among the most disappointing teams in major-league history.

On paper, they were a formidable blend of star talent and organizational ambition. In reality, they were a top-heavy example of how a truckload of money cannot mask organizational dysfunction for long.

The Padres should be a threat in future years — much of their core is locked up long-term — but they might always look back on this year as a massive wasted opportunity. — Lin

The worst part of it all

Most members of the core trended in the wrong direction. Manny Machado, 31, is headed for tennis elbow surgery. Xander Bogaerts, who turns 31 on Sunday, dealt with a recurring wrist injury in his San Diego debut. Yu Darvish, 37, has a bone spur and a stress reaction in his elbow. Joe Musgrove, 30, had his season ended by shoulder capsule inflammation, and Jake Cronenworth, 29, had his ended by a broken wrist. Fernando Tatis Jr., 24, fell well short of his previous power production in his return from suspension and multiple surgeries.

These six players are signed to contracts totaling more than $1.2 billion. Can enough of them rebound so the club isn’t hamstrung for years to come? Will the Padres trade Juan Soto this offseason in search of a more balanced roster? That route is at least under consideration after owner Peter Seidler’s expensive gamble on the 2023 season backfired in spectacular fashion. — Lin


Should the Padres trade Juan Soto this offseason if they don’t extend him?

Who’s on the hot seat?

Given more resources than most of his peers — and far more than any of his predecessors — president of baseball operations and general manager A.J. Preller has taken San Diego to the playoffs just twice in nine full seasons, and one of those appearances came in a 60-game season. His only winning record in a full season came in 2022.

Preller has also churned through four managers and more than two dozen major-league coaches. His current manager, Bob Melvin, appears to be on the hot seat himself, but virtually no one outside the organization believes Preller should be allowed to hire another manager.

The bigger question: Would Seidler, who is recovering from an undisclosed medical procedure, allow Preller to pick another manager? With Seidler less involved than usual, Preller could be on shakier ground than ever. — Lin



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What has to change?

With a number of onerous financial commitments on the books, the Padres need to finally start developing, and keeping, some of their own talent. Their roster includes only four homegrown players, and two of them were called up as the team played out the string.

Beyond that, San Diego could use more fastball hitters, more pitching (with Blake Snell, Josh Hader and others headed to free agency) and more depth in general. — Lin


The Padres opened this season with a $249 million payroll — a franchise record and the third-highest in the majors — coming off a run to the club’s first appearance in the NLCS since 1998.

But almost from the beginning, the season unfolded like a nightmare. A team that set out to win its first World Series title has not been .500 or better since May 11 and has not been within 10 games of the NL West lead since Aug. 5.

Required reading

(Photo: Sergio Estrada / USA Today)

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