Friars' scuffling bats magnify need for Deadline additions

July 6th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Four weeks until the Trade Deadline. Safe to say the Padres’ offense might look different then.

If it wasn’t already clear, it should be after the past week: San Diego needs offense in the worst way. Yes, Manny Machado should get healthier. Yes, Fernando Tatis Jr. will return eventually. Yes, there are other options in-house -- including Wil Myers, who might return from his knee injury after the All-Star break.

All of those things can be true. It doesn’t change the fact that the Padres need to look externally to find some offense. Because lately, their bats have gone ice cold.

“It’s just been inconsistent,” said manager Bob Melvin, following the Padres’ 6-2 loss to the Mariners at Petco Park on Tuesday afternoon. “Manny’s still playing on a bad ankle, and we’re just not doing enough, putting enough pressure on the pitchers. We’re obviously not slugging. … We’ve just got to keep working.”

On Sunday afternoon, San Diego staged a furious four-run, ninth-inning rally to beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Good thing, too. Because if not for that rally, the Padres would be riding a six-game losing streak in which they’ve scored just eight runs.

This isn’t the first time the Padres’ offense has struggled this season. But during prior slumps, they’d generally gotten excellent pitching and defense -- enough of it to win games. Lately, their pitching and defense have been only middling, meaning this is the first time their offensive struggles have produced results like these -- five losses out of their last six, nine of their last 12.

"It wasn't until this last stretch that it's felt like this,” Melvin said. “Teams go through stretches like this over the course of a season. It doesn't mean it feels good. But you have to keep working and doing the right things and playing sound baseball. At some point in time, that fog lifts and the sun comes through, and hopefully the floodgates open.”

Know what would help open those floodgates? Another bat (or two). Here are a few options for where the Padres might look on the trade market:

An OF/1B/DH slugging type: This has been the Padres’ biggest area of need dating back to the offseason. Nomar Mazara, Luke Voit and Eric Hosmer have been good in spurts. Myers should also return soon. But the Padres need more than what they’ve provided, and there should be plenty of boppers available.

A center fielder: Harder to find, but Trent Grisham has struggled this season, and José Azocar probably isn’t a playoff-caliber platoon option. It’s reasonable to assume the Padres would look to add a righty-hitting outfielder capable of playing both center field and a corner spot. Grisham could start against righties and sit against lefties.

A catcher: The duo of Austin Nola and Jorge Alfaro has proven serviceable. But it’s also possible the Padres look to shore things up behind the plate. Willson Contreras is the big name here, and he won’t come cheap. But if the Padres were to land him, he’d give their offense a jolt, and there would still be playing time for Nola (as a backup) and Alfaro (as that DH/thumper type against left-handed pitching).

In the meantime, the Padres will look to stay afloat with the same combination of pitching and defense that has carried them 11 games above .500. San Diego still boasts a rotation that runs six or seven arms deep and a bullpen that should be effective once the club gets a few arms back from injury.

If nothing else, their solidity elsewhere should allow the Padres to allocate all of their Deadline resources toward finding a bat. The offense will also get a jolt with the impending returns of Tatis and Myers.

“We know it's going to be good,” Profar said. “But right now we've got to be better.”

A thriving Machado would help that, but he’s just 3-for-19 with two walks and 10 strikeouts since he returned from a gruesome-looking left ankle sprain. However, when asked whether he's healthy, he said, simply, "Am I playing?"

The answer to that, of course, is yes, and he added, "I wouldn't be out there if I couldn't." But is Machado close to 100 percent?

"First day of Spring Training is the last day you're ever 100 percent," he said.

Indeed, for Machado and for so many other Padres, Wednesday’s off-day comes at a welcome time. They’ve played 31 games in 31 days, and their performance dipped significantly toward the end of it. Not that they’re willing to use the workload as an excuse.

“We’ve just got to be better,” Profar said. “And we know we can. We're going to bring it after the off-day. I promise that.”