Padres chairman: 'We expect to be a force'

March 15th, 2022

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres chairman Peter Seidler has done his best to forget his team’s nightmarish finish to the 2021 season.

But when there are lessons to be learned, Seidler says, it’s in the best interest of his team to learn them. Following the Padres' late-season collapse in 2021, they retooled their coaching staff and could shake up their roster in the coming weeks, too.

Still, after addressing the team on Tuesday at the start of camp, Seidler was as bullish as ever about his current group -- even with its superstar shortstop on the shelf for a couple months.

"If you're going to fall off a cliff like we did last year, you may as well make it dramatic," Seidler quipped. "And we did. I think that was a once-in-a-century what I'll call learning experience for all of us. ... It's a fresh year. We've got a very, very good team, and we expect to be a force in the chase for the World Series."

Of course, those expectations took a hit on Sunday when X-rays revealed that had fractured his left wrist during the offseason and will miss up to three months.

A year ago, Seidler committed $340 million to Tatis for the next 14 seasons. Tatis put up MVP-caliber numbers when he was on the field last season. But he dealt with a recurring shoulder injury that kept him off the field for multiple stints.

Now, for the third time in his four big league seasons, Tatis will miss significant game action. This time, there are questions about whether the injury may have occurred during an offseason motorcycle accident.

In his annual spring media conference on Tuesday, Seidler threw his full support behind his 23-year-old superstar. Seidler wouldn't share details of any conversations he may have had with Tatis since the injury. But he wanted to make it clear that he believed Tatis would learn from the incident and do his part to make sure he’s on the field as often as possible in the future.

"Most importantly, he's committed to that,” Seidler said. “And I'm committed to supporting him in every way.”

With Tatis out, the Padres' search for offense is suddenly an even more pressing concern. In 2021, the Padres shattered previous records for spending and were reportedly one of only two teams to pay fees for exceeding the competitive balance tax.

That first CBT threshold is higher this season -- $230 million to be exact, after last week's ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement. As usual, Seidler didn't give any indication how close he'd be willing to get to that number. But he was quick to note that his plans are always flexible if the right situation arises.

"From a long-term perspective, we might be a budget-driven organization," Seidler said. “Year to year, we build our core. Then, if interesting situations pop up, we give them full consideration."

As things currently stand, Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller is actively trying to move the contracts of Eric Hosmer and/or Wil Myers in an effort to gain some financial flexibility.

It's unclear whether the Padres would need to move one of those two salaries in order to add a big-money outfield bat or two. Right now, the lack of offensive thump is the Padres’ most glaring weakness.

"As you might expect at this time of the year, he's juggling a bunch of different options," Seidler said of Preller. "It takes two to tango -- sometimes it takes three to tango in the trade game. But we'll see where we land. I love our roster as constructed. But we're constantly looking to improve."