2019 San Diego Padres Season Preview: Manny Machado changes everything

If you just arose from a coma, we have some big news for you. Manny Machado is a member of the San Diego Padres as of two weeks ago. He’ll be there for the next 10 years and the NL West is a lot more interesting, both in the short term and the long term.

The Padres had a promising group of prospects before they landed Machado. Now with Machado in the mix, they’re one of the more fascinating teams in MLB — both from a real on-the-field-results perspective and as it pertains to your fantasy livelihood.

Machado is joined by veterans Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers and Ian Kinsler in San Diego’s lineup, but where things get really interesting is when you start to wonder what youngsters Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias are capable of.

On the flip side, San Diego’s pitching is about as troubling as its lineup is interesting. If some things go really really right in the rotation, the Padres could challenge for a wild-card. Otherwise, they’re a couple years away from contending.

Until then, they’ll be fun to watch — both in the NL West standings and on your fantasy roster. - Mike Oz

Manny Machado signing with the San Diego Padres has changed the trajectory for the organization. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Manny Machado signing with the San Diego Padres has changed the trajectory for the organization. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Padres offseason grade

You could make the argument that the Padres needed to do more if they really wanted to challenge the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies. And you wouldn’t be wrong necessarily. Just look at the starting rotation below.

But here’s the really important thing: The Padres signed Manny Machado! It doesn’t matter what else happened (they did add Kinsler and an injured Garrett Richards), they surpassed everyone’s expectations. Points in our book for going for it.

Our grade: A- — The minus is only because they could really use a pitcher. - Mike Oz

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San Diego’s projected lineup and pitching staff

The projected starting lineup for the 2019 San Diego Padres. (Amber Matsumoto / Yahoo Sports)
The projected starting lineup for the 2019 San Diego Padres. (Amber Matsumoto / Yahoo Sports)

Who will be the Padres’ fantasy breakout?

Franmil Reyes doesn’t enter the year with a starting spot in the outfield locked down, but his bat carries too much potential for him not to be a regular in the lineup one way or the other. He strikes out a lot but possesses legit power, and his average exit velocity last year (92.3 mph) ranked top-15 in MLB. Reyes hit .315/.383/.537 with 10 homers over 162 at-bats after the All-Star break, and he enters 2019 with a bunch of fantasy appeal and with an affordable price tag thanks to his unsettled role. Petco Park is also playing more neutral for right-handed power these days. - Dalton Del Don

[Positional Rankings: Top 300 Overall | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | P]

What is San Diego’s biggest fantasy question?

While Manny Machado loses fantasy value with his move to a pitcher’s park, is there a sleeper on the staff who can take advantage of Petco? Joey Lucchesi is the trendy pick but the arm with the most 2019 upside on San Diego’s staff belongs to rookie Chris Paddack, who won’t immediately start the season in their rotation but will ultimately reward patient fantasy owners (and those in keeper leagues). The big right hander looked strong in his return from TJ surgery last year, recording a 2.10 ERA and 0.82 WHIP with a 120:8 K:BB ratio over 90.0 innings across the minors. Among the many intriguing young fantasy prospects on the Padres, don’t be surprised when it’s Paddack who emerges as most valuable in 2019. - Dalton Del Don

Prospect to watch

You probably already know the name because you might remember his dad, or because you’re already drooling over yet another second-generation star in baseball’s prospect ranks.

San Diego’s star-to-be is Fernando Tatis Jr., a well-built shortstop with an impressive bat and a Carlos Correa-like frame. He’s the top prospect in the NL. And just look at this.

Tatis doesn’t figure to start the year in the big leagues. He hasn’t played above Double-A yet, but he’ll be in the bigs soon enough and he’s worth closely monitoring until then. - Mike Oz

Things that MUST go right

1. Manny Machado has MVP season: Signing Machado is obviously great news for the Padres long-term outlook. For them to be any kind of factor in 2019 though, they'll need Manny to carry a big load. The Padres are still in rebuilding mode despite the deals they've given Machado and Eric Hosmer the last two winters, meaning any significant surge will have to be authored by their money players.

2. Tatis Jr. contributes: He’s poised to form a dominant infield duo with Machado. The only question is when it will come to fruition. The Padres will likely be patient with Tatis Jr., but if there's any chance for them to make noise in 2019 they will need their shortstop of the future to be a contributor.

3. Rotation starts to develop: No disrespect to Joey Lucchesi, but when he's the ace of your pitching staff you're obviously thin on proven talent. The good news is the Padres have some strong talent waiting in the wings. Left-hander MacKenzie Gore and right-handers Chris Paddack and Luis Patino will be fixtures in the future. But 2019 might be another bottom five finish for the rotation without some immediate help. - Mark Townsend

If this team had a walk-up song, what would it be?

With all the talk in the past six months about Manny Machado’s make-up as a player, we’re imaging a full troll move here. When you sign the guy who famously made headlines for saying he’s not “Johnny Hustle,” there’s only one choice for your 2019 walk-up song.

As for the Padres, they’re trying to hustle their way up the NL West standings. - Mike Oz

More 2019 MLB Previews From Yahoo Sports

Baltimore | Miami | Kansas City | Detroit | Texas | Toronto | San Diego

Chicago (AL) | Minnesota | San Francisco | Pittsburgh | Arizona | Seattle

Cincinnati | Los Angeles (AL) | Oakland | Tampa Bay | Colorado | Cleveland

New York (NL) | St. Louis | Atlanta | Philadelphia | Milwaukee | Chicago

Washington | Los Angeles (NL) | Houston | New York (AL) | Boston