Yeah, that didn't work so well. The San Diego Padres, under new general manager A.J. Preller, went nuts last offseason, bringing in Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, James Shields, Craig Kimbrel, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, Shawn Kelley, Brandon Morrow, Brandon Maurer, Melvin Upton ... and fell from 77 wins to 74. What's Plan B?
What do they need: A shortstop. A center fielder, unless you believe in Melvin Upton's decent 228 plate appearances (112 OPS+) are a return to form after two terrible seasons. A first baseman with power would be nice. A starting pitcher, or maybe two if Ian Kennedy leaves as a free agent. (The Padres gave him a qualifying offer but he didn't accept.) A third baseman, unless you believe in Yangervis Solarte as a starter. A bullpen guy. They have a new manager in Andy Green, who had been third-base coach for the Diamondbacks.
Guy on the rise: Cory Spangenberg was the team's first-round pick in 2011 and while his progress through the minors was slow, he was a career .294 hitter in five minor league seasons. In his first extended taste of big-league pitching he hit .271/.333/.399 and played an adequate second base (0 Defensive Runs Saved). He doesn't have much power and he hasn't translated his plus-speed into many steals, but he'll battle Jedd Gyorko for the starting job.
Prospect to anticipate: Austin Hedges exhausted his rookie eligibility in 2015 and he can't hit (although the Padres might make him the starting catcher), so let's go with OF Hunter Renfroe, the team's first-round pick in 2013 out of Mississippi State. Renfroe has raw power, bat speed and a strong throwing arm, but is limited to an outfield corner -- positions currently occupied by Kemp and Myers, unless the Padres try that silly experiment again of Myers in center. Renfroe also has some swing-and-miss in his game and doesn't walk much, leading to a .328 OBP in the minors. He reached Triple-A for 21 games in 2015 but more time there is probably necessary.
Winter action plan: Friday's trade of Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox is a start, but to put it bluntly, this team is kind of a mess right now. There's always hope that the rotation pitches better -- the team allowed 154 more runs than 2014, offsetting a 115-run increase on offense -- but it doesn't seem like they have the pieces to contend. But they also have win-now veterans like Kemp and Shields who don't have much trade value due to their production and contracts. What will Preller do? The Padres are kind of stuck in the middle, going nowhere.
They do need to get a shortstop. The three-team deal that brought in Myers now looks like a disaster for the Padres, as Trea Turner, traded to the Nationals, would have been the team's starting shortstop in 2016. Now they're desperate to find somebody. They were in on Andrelton Simmons discussions but now might have to turn to free agent Ian Desmond if there's money in the budget, or a cheaper stopgap such as Alexei Ramirez. They acquired infielder Jose Pirela from the Yankees, but he's mostly been a second baseman in recent years.
If they make Hedges the catcher, they could offer Norris around, or maybe move Norris to first base in a platoon with Yonder Alonso. Do they look to trade Andrew Cashner in his final year before free agency? What about Kimbrel, who has two years remaining? They'll try to sign a cheaper rotation option such as veteran Rich Hill, who came out of nowhere last year to have four dominant starts for the Red Sox in September.
Their best bet might be to sit tight and see what happens early in the season. If the Padres fall out of the race, they could shop around Cashner or Kimbrel at that point and extract as much value as they would this offseason.