Padres' 5-strong All-Star contingent includes franchise first: a rookie

July 8th, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres will be sending a sizeable contingent to Texas for the Midsummer Classic later this month -- including, for the first time in franchise history, a rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Major League Baseball unveiled its full rosters for the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. The National League squad features the Padres’ entire starting outfield -- with rookie center fielder joining and , who had been announced as starters on Wednesday. Additionally, infielder and closer are headed to Arlington, where the game will take place on July 16.

The Padres’ five All-Stars are their most since 2021 and are tied for the second most in franchise history, behind only the 1985 team. They trail only the Phillies (seven) and Dodgers (six) among 2024 clubs.

“Congratulations to those guys,” said Padres manager Mike Shildt. “To have five All-Stars representing the club, it speaks very highly of the team.

It was Shildt who delivered the news to Suarez, Arraez and Merrill in a team-wide pregame meeting Sunday, prior to the Padres’ series finale against the Diamondbacks -- a 9-1 loss at Petco Park.

Shildt noted that Arraez had made his third All-Star team, and Arraez said a few words. He noted that Suarez had made his first All-Star team, and Suarez said a few words.

Then, Shildt mischievously moved onto other unrelated topics, including the postgame father-daughter day. Just as he was about to wrap it up, he added the exclamation point: Merrill had made the team, too, the first rookie in franchise history to do so and the youngest ever Padre.

“Full excitement,” Merrill said. “The team’s happy for us. That’s the big part for us. No matter who’s going, who’s not, everybody’s behind each other, happy for each other.”

A year after he took part in the All-Star Futures Game, Merrill is the youngest player on either roster at the Midsummer Classic in 2024. At 21 years, 88 days old, he’ll be the youngest to play in the game itself since ‘13, when current teammate Manny Machado did so, along with Bryce Harper and José Fernández.

The full list of players who have played in an All-Star Game in the past 40 years at a younger age is an impressive one: Harper, Machado, Fernández, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr.

“That's incredible,” said Profar, who, at 31, will also be experiencing his first All-Star Game. “This guy's only 21 years old, and he's doing amazing things in the big leagues.”

Tatis was listed as inactive in Sunday’s roster release, which means -- as expected -- he won’t participate in the game as he deals with a stress reaction in the femur bone in his right leg. It is possible that Merrill would start in his place.

Over the past month, Merrill has begun to assert himself as a serious NL Rookie of the Year candidate. He’s hitting .288 with a .774 OPS, and was recently named the NL’s Rookie of the Month for June.

Suarez, meanwhile, has been one of the sport’s most dominant closers for the first half of the season. He has recorded saves in 22 of 24 opportunities with a 1.77 ERA. Handed the closer role after Josh Hader’s departure, Suarez has been everything the Padres could have hoped he’d be.

“Obviously it’s a very important position,” Suarez said through interpreter Danny Sanchez. “And I’ve given everything I can to go out there and be a successful closer.”

As for Arraez, he leads the National League with 118 hits and ranks third with a .312 average, trailing only Profar and Shohei Ohtani. Arraez arrived from Miami via trade in early May, and he has been a perfect fit atop the Padres' lineup since.

This year will mark Arraez’s third straight trip to the All-Star Game, each coming with a different team. He says this one’s the most special, and for good reason. In the past, his father, mother and sister hadn’t been able to attend because of visa issues. This year, that’s been sorted out, and they’ll be joining Arraez in Texas.

"This one is more special, because they can go there with me, and I can enjoy it with them," said Arraez, who also noted that he now has one All-Star appearance for each of his three daughters.

An All-Star padre, indeed.