San Diego Padres


There's a buzz about baseball in San Diego again, and it's because of a star and a sensation.
The Padres signed third baseman Manny Machado to a franchise-record 10-year, $300 million contract in the offseason. In spring training, sizzling 20-year-old shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. proved he's ready for his Majors debut.
Those two will lead a club looking to shed its streak of eight straight losing seasons, presenting a left side of the infield that the Padres will embrace for years to come. The addition of Machado and Tatis, if nothing else, has brought the Padres back to relevancy after 50 seasons of mainly futility.
Team MVP: Manny Machado

The four-time All-Star with two Gold Gloves returns to third base, relinquishing shortstop to Tatis. Machado is far from beloved around the league after his antics in the playoffs, but he's a savior to Padres fans even if he's a villain elsewhere. Machado should hit the finish line with offensive statistics north of 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the season.
Best-Value Pitcher: Chris Paddack
He's never pitched above Class AA but Paddack was electric in camp, when allowing but three earned runs over 15 1/3 innings for a 1.76 ERA in five starts. This right-handed gem from the farm system touches 96 mph on his fastball and has an effective curve and changeup. For $555,000, the Padres could get the maximum for the MLB minimum.
Best-Value Position Player: Fernando Tatis Jr.
If Tatis displays his versatile skills, the ones that allowed him to become the ninth-youngest position player on an opening day roster in 50 years, then the bang is significant for the Padres' bucks—$555,555.
The value here is looking short-term, because if Tatis blossoms into the star the Padres are predicting, he'll reach free agency a year sooner with San Diego declining to wait until April 12 to start his MLB service time.
Best Addition: Ian Kinsler
It's not just the elite numbers that Machado has produced, along with his durability -- 11 missed games in four years -- that made his signing so startling to Major League Baseball overall and to San Diego in particular.
His acquisition marked a change in the Padres' small-market philosophy and flipped the mindset of San Diego sports fans still smarting over losing the NFL San Diego's Chargers.
But don't overlook another new veteran in Ian Kinsler. On a team where there's youth and inexperience in nearly every direction, the presence of this savvy second baseman will provide a calming influence. He'll give way eventually to Luis Urias, but for now, Kinsler will contribute on and off the field.


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