SAN DIEGO -- Following the Padres’ disappointing sub-.500 finish in 2021, general manager A.J. Preller has some work to do retooling his roster this winter. It won't be an overhaul.
"We think we have the foundation and the core of a team that can play into the postseason and get to the World Series," Preller said. "This is not a situation where you feel like it's major changes. We've got really quality players, some young players in position for a long time. Then, we've got to add to that core."
Here's a breakdown of the most prominent Padres' roster pieces from 2021 and their outlook for the '22 season:
Austin Nola (free agent after 2025): Nola had never spent any time on the injured list, but played only 56 games in 2021 because of three separate IL stints. He underwent season-ending thumb surgery in late September, but the Padres expect him back to full strength for Spring Training, and they still envision him as their top catcher moving forward.
Victor Caratini (free agent after 2023): Caratini provided some very clutch moments early for the Padres, but he struggled mightily down the stretch, finishing with a replacement-level WAR. Entering his second year of arbitration eligibility, he's a candidate to be non-tendered, though it seems unlikely the Padres would sacrifice that kind of catching depth.
Luis Campusano (free agent after 2026): The Padres remain high on their No. 2 prospect and are hoping for a breakthrough next season. Ideally, Campusano splits time behind the plate with Nola. Perhaps, if a designated hitter is implemented in the National League, Campusano could get at-bats there, too.
Eric Hosmer (signed through 2025, player option after '22): The Padres looked to move Hosmer at the Trade Deadline, and they'll likely continue to do so this offseason in an attempt to clear payroll flexibility, perhaps to spend on pitching. Hosmer, who is due $60 million over the next four years, slumped to a .732 OPS in '21. The Padres need more production at first base, plain and simple.
Jake Cronenworth (free agent after 2025): Of all the positive developments for the Padres this season, Cronenworth's sustained success ranks near the top. He was worth 4.8 WAR in 2021, and he looks like a bedrock of the Padres' future infield plans, wherever they play him. (And they truly can play him anywhere, it seems).
Adam Frazier (free agent after 2022): Frazier mostly struggled in San Diego after his Trade Deadline arrival, but he remains a very useful roster piece entering his final year before free agency. He's due a raise on his $4.3 million salary. The Padres will pay it, then deploy him as either a second baseman, a corner outfielder, or both, depending on their other roster plans this winter.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (signed through 2034): The biggest questions surrounding Tatis are his health and his position. Health-wise, he appears to have opted to forego surgery on his left shoulder. Position-wise, the Padres say he's their shortstop. Entering year two of his record-setting contract, Tatis should be an MVP candidate again.
Manny Machado (signed through 2028, player option after '23): Machado played through some nagging injuries in '21, but he says those will be healed with an offseason's worth of recovery time.
Ha-Seong Kim (signed through 2024): Kim proved a serviceable backup infielder in '21, though he didn't quite live up to the four-year, $28 million contract the Padres gave him last offseason. Perhaps there would be more playing time available for Kim, an elite defender, with a universal designated hitter.
Trent Grisham (free agent after 2025): After his breakout '20 campaign, Grisham took a step back in '21. He's still an elite defender in center field and an integral piece of the Padres' future plans.
Wil Myers (signed through 2022, team option for '23): Myers, who is owed $20 million this season, is a likely trade candidate this winter. That would clear money for the Padres to spend elsewhere, but it would also leave them in search of a big bat to fill a corner-outfield spot.
Tommy Pham (free agent): It seems unlikely the Padres would re-sign Pham, who struggled in two seasons with San Diego.
Jurickson Profar (player option for 2022): Profar will almost certainly pick up his 2022 option for just over $7 million, and he will continue to serve as a bench piece who can back up nearly any position.
Jake Marisnick (free agent): In a Trade Deadline-day deal, Marisnick cost the Padres Anderson Espinoza. Now, Marisnick hits free agency after only 48 at-bats with San Diego. Strange trade.
Brian O'Grady (free agent after 2027): A useful bench player who can handle multiple positions and still has a year of Minor League options remaining.
RHP Yu Darvish (signed through 2023): Darvish was excellent in the first half of the '21 season, then dealt with hip and back trouble in the second. His first priority this winter: get healthy.
RHP Joe Musgrove (signed through 2022): The Padres' most reliable starting pitcher in '21, Musgrove will be a free agent after next season. A San Diego native, Musgrove has spoken repeatedly about his love of pitching for the Padres. A contract extension might suit both parties.
LHP Blake Snell (signed through 2023): After a rough start to his tenure in San Diego, Snell was perhaps the Padres' best pitcher down the stretch. He missed the final two weeks of the season with an adductor issue, but that was never considered serious, and the Padres are optimistic that Snell will be able to carry his strong finish into '22.
RHP Mike Clevinger (signed through 2022): Clevinger missed the 2021 season following Tommy John surgery. Lately, he's ramped up his throwing program, however, and the Padres believe they'll have Clevinger at full-go for the start of the '22 campaign.
RHP Chris Paddack (free agent after 2024): Paddack dealt with elbow inflammation in September, which required a stem cell injection and several weeks of rest. That could slightly cut into the early part of his offseason. But the Padres and Paddack are optimistic that he avoided any structural damage to that elbow, which has already been surgically repaired once.
LHP Ryan Weathers (free agent after 2026): Weathers was outstanding over the first few months of his rookie season. At the All-Star break, he had a 2.91 ERA. The Padres need to find a way to channel that version of Weathers moving forward, because he struggled mightily down the stretch, and was ultimately removed from the rotation.
RHP Dinelson Lamet (free agent after 2023): The Padres have some serious questions to answer about Lamet after he spent four stints on the IL due to elbow trouble. Is he a starter? Is he a reliever? Is he a non-tender candidate, considering the injury trouble?
LHP Adrian Morejon (free agent after 2025): Morejon underwent Tommy John surgery in April, and if all goes well, the Padres are hopeful that he could be an impactful midseason addition to either their rotation or bullpen.
RHP Reiss Knehr (free agent after 2027): After earning his big league breakthrough in '21, Knehr is expected to serve as Minor League rotation depth next season.
RHP Pedro Avila (free agent after 2027): More potential organizational rotation depth.
RHP Mark Melancon (mutual option for 2022): After an outstanding 2021 season, Melancon will almost certainly decline his $5 million option and is likely to make substantially more on the free-agent market. The Padres need a closer and should be interested in retaining his services.
LHP Drew Pomeranz (signed through 2023): Pomeranz's status for 2022 remains unclear after he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his left forearm. Needless to say, the Padres' bullpen could use Pomeranz. The unit was one of the best in baseball before his injury, then came undone down the stretch.
RHP Emilio Pagán (free agent after 2023): Coming off the poorest season of his career, Pagán is due a raise on his $1.6 million salary in arbitration. Considering his elite stuff and high ceiling, however, Pagán is not considered a non-tender candidate.
RHP Craig Stammen (team option for 2022): Stammen remains a bullpen workhorse, and he posted a 3.06 ERA in 2021. Picking up his $4 million option for '22 feels like a no-brainer.
RHP Pierce Johnson (team option for 2022): As with Stammen, picking up Johnson's $3 million option should be a formality. The right-hander has posted a 3.09 ERA in two seasons with the Padres.
RHP Daniel Hudson (free agent): Hudson hits free agency, having struggled after landing in San Diego at the Trade Deadline.
LHP Tim Hill (free agent after 2024): Hill posted a 3.62 ERA and was the Padres' most reliable left-handed reliever this season. At times this season, he was their only healthy left-handed reliever. The Padres will likely look to give him some help by adding another lefty option or two this winter.
RHP Austin Adams (free agent after 2024): Adams' hit-batter woes were well-chronicled, as he led the league with 24 in 52 2/3 innings. But he was relatively effective otherwise and figures to have a place in the middle innings in 2022.
RHP Nabil Crismatt (free agent after 2027): What a pickup. Signed as a Minor League free agent last year, Crismatt was one of the team’s most reliable innings eaters in 2021. He’ll open the ‘22 season expected to anchor a spot as long man in the bullpen.
LHP Matt Strahm (free agent after 2022): Strahm has been plagued by knee trouble and seems a likely non-tender candidate, barring some positive news on his health status.
RHP Dan Altavilla (free agent after 2023): Another non-tender candidate, Altavilla is coming off Tommy John surgery in June. Or, he could give the Padres’ bullpen a late-season boost in ’22.
RHP Trey Wingenter (free agent after 2024): Wingenter missed the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery and, later, an operation on his back. But barring any further setbacks, Wingenter should be full-go for Spring Training, where he'll compete for a bullpen place.
LHP José Castillo (free agent after 2024): Castillo's injury luck has been nothing short of dreadful. He's coming off Tommy John surgery in March, and the Padres will need to weigh the merits of bringing him back in his first year of arbitration. Castillo's stuff is electric when he's healthy. That part's been tricky, though.
RHP Michel Baez (free agent after 2026): Baez underwent Tommy John surgery in April and could be ready to impact the bullpen by midseason in ‘22.
RHP Miguel Diaz (free agent after 2026): Diaz turned into a useful roster piece, moving between Triple-A and the Majors in 2021. Expect more of the same in '22, and if he can continue to lower his walk rate, Diaz might even work his way into a more permanent roster spot.