For Padres' Draft brain trust, better late than never

July 6th, 2023

This story was excerpted from AJ Cassavell’s Padres Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Padres paid a steep price to sign Xander Bogaerts in December -- and not just financially. Earlier that offseason, Bogaerts declined his qualifying offer from the Red Sox. Additionally, the Padres’ payroll had exceeded the collective bargaining tax.

Bogaerts’ arrival meant that general manager A.J. Preller would be sacrificing his second- and fifth-round picks in this year’s Draft.

“I like the challenge,” said scouting director Chris Kemp. “Any time A.J. sees a move to help this big league team get better, I’m all in for it. Our group, if we lose a pick or lose picks, I don’t really care. As long as the team’s getting better, we’ll fill in the back side as best we can.”

That’s the goal this week. The Padres pick 25th in the first round on Sunday, then they’re off until the 96th overall selection. They sport just two picks in the top 100 and four in the top 200.

“Yeah, you can dock us a couple picks,” Kemp said. “But we know when that sixth or seventh round comes around, we could hit big. We’re pretty confident in that. … Hey, we’re losing picks early, but if we’re good late, it doesn’t really matter.”

In addition to the loss of Draft picks, the Padres also lose the bonus values attached to those picks. That leaves them with a pool of $5,416,000, the third lowest total behind the Phillies and Yankees (who also signed big-name free agents).

The 2023 MLB Draft begins Sunday amid All-Star festivities in Seattle. It will be broadcast on MLB Network and ESPN, beginning with a pre-Draft show at 3 p.m. PT. Every pick on Day 2 and 3 will stream on

“It’s our Super Bowl as an amateur scouting group,” Kemp said. “We’re all excited.”

And sure, this year’s “Super Bowl” comes with a few hurdles. Part of the gig, Kemp says.

“When other teams have a more staggering amount of picks or money than you’re dealing with, yeah, I would call that a challenge,” he said. “But I think it’s fun. Because in baseball, whether it’s the ninth round or the second round, you can find real big leaguers.”