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How can the San Diego Padres reduce their payroll by $50 million in 2024?

Regardless of what sport we discuss, the object is to win and that’s something the Padres have failed to do. That’s why this offseason will be about change.

Regardless of what sport we discuss, the object is to win and that’s something the Padres have failed to do. That’s why this offseason will be about change.

At the moment the San Diego Padres are five games off of a playoff spot with six games left to play. Yes, they have recorded an impressive nine wins in their last 10 games, but rest assured, the likelihood of the team securing a trip to the postseason is improbable at best and zero at worst.

The problem facing the Padres

As mentioned above, the San Diego Padres are doing their best to give fans something to cheer about as they head toward the conclusion of the season, and to be fair they deserve a nod for that. On the other hand, if we’re completely honest about what this most recent campaign has been for the club, it can only really be regarded as a failure. To that end, it’s reasonable to believe that general manager, A.J. Preller will have some tough questions to answer, while the roster will almost certainly undergo changes. Yet, perhaps the most interesting of all facets, is a recent report from the San Diego Union-Tribune which indicated that the Padres are set to reduce the players’ payroll by roughly 20% in 2024, a move that would lower the total amount to about $200 million.

Here’s an extract from the aforementioned report:

“...How much the team is bringing in is not a known number, though one highly placed source says the team has doubled revenue since 2018, and others around baseball marvel at the impressive gains. However, the size of the payroll is known, and it has jumped from $104 million in 2018 to the season-ending figure of around $253 million in ‘23. In part, because they are out of compliance with MLB regulations regarding their debt service ratio, according to multiple sources, the plan is to go into 2024 with player commitments of around $200 million.”

Can the Padres cut as much as they want to?

This is where context counts. The Padres came into this season with a franchise record $248.9 million payroll. This is to say that reducing that figure by almost $50 million will be a tough task. Of course, the likes of Josh Hader and Blake Snell - both earning heft chunks of change - will be removed as will the dead money associated with Drew Pomeranz. On the other hand, who are the Padres going to sign to replace the previously mentioned pair, and at what cost?

As things stand, the Padres are reported to have $155.3 million on the books for next season. To be clear, that covers 12 players and does not include arbitration raises. Where star Juan Soto is concerned, the Dominican is making $23 million this year and his salary could rise to $30 million through arbitration next year. While it would undoubtedly be a divisive move, there is the possibility that we could see Soto traded in an effort to free up finances. Conversely one could argue that the Padres should stick with what they have. Consider for a moment that the Padres went an unbelievable 0-12 in extra-inning games. Had they won even five of those contests they’d be in a wild-card spot.

So, how do the Padres move forward?

In all likelihood, what we will see is the Padres continuing to maintain the trio of Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado Jr., and Fernando Tatis as the core of the team, which to be fair is not at all a bad thing. At that point, it becomes a question of just how much they can actually shave off of their payroll. Should they manage to achieve the stated $200 million reduction, it will go a long way toward building around the three stars they already have.