The San Diego Padres have had one of the highest payrolls in baseball over the past couple of years. Owner Peter Seidler has been committed to winning, and GM A.J. Preller has acquired star after star to try to bring a ring to San Diego.
Unfortunately, all that spending has had some unintended consequences. The Athletic ($$$) recently published a report that stated the Padres had to take out a $50 million loan in Septemer to help cover team expenses, including player salaries.
This comes just one year removed from the Padres handing out huge contracts to the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, and Yu Darvish last offseason. After failing to make the playoffs in 2023, there could be a reset coming in San Diego.
There has been a ton of speculation that the Padres could now trade some of their stars. Obviously, Juan Soto is the most common name to come up. Soto will be a free agent after next season, so whoever trades for him will at least have to think about extending him.
After a slow start in 2023, Soto had a very Soto-esque season, hitting 35 homers, walking more than he struck out, and putting up a 5.5 fWAR season. He's still very much a star in this league, and at just 25 years old, he'll be highly-coveted should the Padres make him available.
As much as we would LOVE to see Juan Soto in the Old English D, it just doesn't seem realistic. Again, he's a free agent after next season, so whoever trades for him would be smart to try and extend him, and we just don't see Chris Ilitch ponying up for him.
Another option could be Manny Machado, who just signed a massive deal to stay in San Diego last year. The Tigers may have to take on most if not all of his salary, and again, we just don't see Ilitch being willing to do that. Machado also has a no-trade clause, and we all know Scott Harris does not have a good history of dealing with no-trade clauses.
Joe Musgrove is an intriguing option as well. He feels like a great fit for Chris Fetter, but the thing with him is he's currently dealing with a shoulder injury. It sounds like he's feeling better, and Harris has shown that he's willing to deal for players coming off injury (see Freddy Pacheco), but he would have to be careful if he decides to deal for Musgrove.
My personal favorite trade candidate is someone I've wanted for a while now, and that's Ha-Seong Kim. He's averaged about 4 WAR per season the last two years, and would be a great fit for the kind of baseball the Tigers want to play.
At only $7 millon per year and one year of team control left, he probably wouldn't be the first guy the Padres look to move, but if your Scott Harris, you at least have to inquire about him. Kim is a glove-first infielder, but his bat is far from worthless. He had a 112 wRC+ and career-high 17 home runs this past year. He also walked at a 12% clip. Kim would be a great addition to the Tigers lineup.
If the Padres do end up having a bit of a firesale, the Tigers would be very smart to do some shopping there. They could land a very good player, and the Tigers need more good players.