With Jake, Padres again take a long-term view

April 2nd, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- Early Saturday afternoon, minutes before  was slated to take the podium, more than a dozen of his teammates filed into the press conference room inside Petco Park. They lined the walls. There weren't enough chairs.

A few minutes later, Cronenworth, having put the finishing touches on a seven-year contract to keep him in San Diego through 2030, was asked about those teammates. Specifically, the sheer number of them who have also inked long-term deals to remain with the Padres.

"Hopefully, there's more to come to keep us all together," Cronenworth said. "I don’t think you could ask for a better group to stay together [with] for a long period of time."

More to come? You certainly wouldn't count these Padres out. In the aftermath of the Cronenworth extension, here's a look at what comes next:

1. Cronenworth's deal means anything is on the table
Over the past eight months, six Padres have signed deals of five years or longer. The other five, though, came with at least some measure of forewarning.

's eventual 11-year extension was the talk of camp. was a known Padres target at the Winter Meetings. The team made it clear that it didn't want to see and  on the open market.

Even , the most surprising deal of the other five, came with some early offseason speculation.

But Cronenworth's deal? Completely unexpected – and wholly sensible at the same time. Cronenworth gains long-term security. The Padres have a versatile and valuable piece under contract for the rest of the decade. Win-win.

Are there other win-wins out there to be had? Considering the unexpected nature of the Cronenworth deal, nothing can be ruled out.

2. Soto talks appear unlikely … for now
We now know that general manager A.J. Preller spent a chunk of his Opening Day putting the finishing touches on the Cronenworth deal -- a contract that was finalized after both had arrived at the ballpark earlier that day. But when Preller took the podium for his annual start-of-season media availability, it was a different left-handed hitter he was asked about.

has two seasons remaining on his contract. The Padres essentially traded their farm to acquire him at the Deadline last year. Naturally, they’d like to keep one of the sport’s best hitters around long-term. But …

“Conversation-wise, with Juan, it’s been more about the baseball side of things,” Preller said.

Soto is coming off -- by his ridiculously lofty standards -- a down year. He’s also coming off a year in which he reportedly turned down a 14-year, $440 million offer from the Nationals, then endured a summer filled with trade speculation and a change of scenery. It’s understandable if Soto would like to focus on, you know, baseball. The Padres seem content to respect those wishes.

3. Who else is an extension candidate? 
The two obvious answers are and , both of whom are slated to become free agents this winter.

But on the flip side, Snell and Hader are only a few months away from lining themselves up for a very lucrative payday. Generally speaking, when players get this close to testing the market, they eventually do just that. (Musgrove is a notable exception, but he took a hometown discount to remain in San Diego. It’s unlikely Snell or Hader would do so.)

Beyond Snell and Hader, there aren’t any obvious choices. But has become a fan favorite in San Diego, a 27-year-old defensive wiz under contract through the 2024 season. , meanwhile, is 26. Like Cronenworth, he has two arbitration-eligible years remaining on his contract. Coming off a down year – in which he flashed his still-tantalizing upside in the postseason – perhaps the Padres could lock him up at an affordable rate.

At this point, it’s all speculation. But these Padres – under Preller, owner Peter Seidler and CEO Erik Greupner – have proven themselves worthy of such speculation, considering the rate at which they’ve doled out long-term contracts.

"It speaks to Peter, Erik, myself,” Preller said. “First, you need a lot of people with ability. Then you need stability. We wanted, as you sit down as a Padre fan, to know that over the course of the next decade, the players that we believe a lot in, that we think are championship-level players and people, they're going to be here.”