Every time transactions are once more permitted to happen, A’s first baseman Matt Olson is among the many most outstanding names who’ll be mentioned on the commerce market. The 2021 All-Star and two-time Gold Glover has already been linked to the Yankees, Rangers and Braves, amongst others, and Dennis Lin of The Athletic suggests in his newest mailbag column that the Padres determine to be “within the combine” on Olson as effectively. President of baseball operations A.J. Preller has already at the least touched base with the Oakland entrance workplace as a part of a broader sweep of exploratory commerce talks all through the league, per Lin.
Curiosity however, the Padres appear to be a protracted shot to really pull off a deal involving Olson for myriad causes. San Diego already has Eric Hosmer put in at first base and signed for one more 4 seasons at a complete of $59MM. The Friars have reportedly pursued various trade scenarios involving Hosmer in an try and create payroll flexibility and cut back their luxury-tax ledger, however these efforts have unsurprisingly come up quick.
Hosmer’s eight-year, $144MM take care of the Padres was extensively panned from the beginning, and the primary baseman’s tepid .264/.323/.415 batting line (99 wRC+) since signing hasn’t made the ultimate 4 years of the contract any extra interesting (although it ought to be famous that the contract is frontloaded, with Hosmer incomes $20MM in 2022 and $13MM yearly from 2023-25).
The common designated hitter is seen as one thing of a foregone conclusion by now, so one can think about a state of affairs the place Hosmer spends extra time at DH and Olson performs first base. Nonetheless, that’d nonetheless transfer the Padres’ payroll north by an excellent margin. Olson is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $12MM in 2022 earlier than commanding yet one more increase in his last arbitration season in 2023. San Diego already has about $199MM on the books for the 2022 season, per Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez, along with about $215MM value of luxury-tax obligations. The Padres narrowly exceeded the posh tax in 2021, nevertheless it’s unclear whether or not they’d be keen to take action once more in 2022 — significantly if it’s by a bigger margin. Lin notes that proprietor Peter Seidler has “steadfastly declined” to debate payroll and luxurious tax up to now.
That $215MM determine is a considerable issue within the Padres’ reported efforts to maneuver Hosmer and/or proper fielder Wil Myers (who’s owed $21MM within the last season of a six-year, $83MM extension himself). Maybe if the Padres might discover a strategy to shed one or each salaries, the following luxurious respiratory room might then be make a possible Olson acquisition extra possible. That, nevertheless, would require time to be on the Padres’ aspect — which isn’t the case. Put up-lockout transactions are anticipated to be frenetic, and it doesn’t determine to be straightforward for Preller & Co. to discover a commerce involving Hosmer or Myers. The San Diego entrance workplace has been investigating trades involving the pair for at the least the previous 12 months, in spite of everything — and longer than that with regard to Myers. If an Olson acquisition is based on transferring Hosmer and/or Myers, it’s exhausting to think about there’d be time to finish that deal then circle again to the A’s.
Some would possibly counsel that the Padres merely attempt to ship Hosmer again to Oakland as a part of a deal, providing higher prospects in return to push a deal throughout the end line. That state of affairs seems decidedly unlikely, although. The associated fee on Olson figures to be sky-high within the first place, and the driving issue behind Oakland’s ostensibly looming sell-off is a want to pare payroll. Taking over Hosmer’s deal runs counter to that. Lin speculates that the Padres might attempt to engineer a three-team swap that locations Hosmer with a 3rd workforce and Olson in San Diego, however that’s clearly an much more bold enterprise than merely discovering a taker for Olson in a extra easy two-team deal.
One wild card in all of that is the uncertainty surrounding the standing of the posh tax/aggressive stability tax itself. The tax thresholds are a key speaking level in collective bargaining talks between the league and the Gamers Affiliation. The MLBPA is in search of main will increase to the tax thresholds, starting with a bounce all the way in which to $245MM this coming season and cresting with a $273MM threshold in 2026. The league, in the meantime, has solely been keen to supply way more marginal will increase: $214MM in 2022-23 and incremental will increase as much as $222MM in 2026. MLB can be in search of to enormously enhance the penalties for crossing the brink, which the MLBPA considers a nonstarter.
[Related: Latest Collective Bargaining Positions For MLB, MLBPA]
It’s doable that no matter center floor is reached will include sufficient of an uptick within the first threshold that the Padres might technically squeeze Olson into the fray while not having to pay the tax. Nonetheless, the Padres are additionally dealing with wants elsewhere on the roster — particularly in a single nook outfield spot. If the hope is so as to add an outfielder and/or deepen the pitching workers or bench in any respect, then San Diego can be taking a look at shoehorning extra than simply Olson’s wage into the puzzle.
All of that’s based mostly on a theoretical stance that Padres possession is deterred by the posh tax alone, however we will’t know that for sure. Final 12 months’s bottom-line payroll of practically $174MM shattered the previous franchise-record payroll by greater than $60MM. The present $199MM projection additional trounces that quantity, and including Olson and any others to the combination would carry the Padres effectively north of $200MM in precise 2022 salaries (and fairly a bit larger when it comes to AAV-based luxurious calculations). It will require an unprecedented stage of spending for the Padres, and we will’t know at what level possession will merely be uncomfortable with additional expenditures. It’s doable they’ve already reached that juncture.
To sum up a bit, there’s good cause to anticipate the Padres will certainly attempt to make one thing occur on the Olson entrance. Preller has proven repeatedly that he’ll at all times discover inventive choices when marquee abilities can be found. San Diego employed supervisor Bob Melvin away from the A’s earlier this offseason, and Melvin would absolutely like to have his former franchise first baseman comply with him down I-5. If the Padres had been to one way or the other transfer Hosmer, they’d have a gap at first base. All of it is sensible on paper, and varied permutations of Olson-to-San Diego offers or three-team blockbusters involving Olson, Hosmer, Myers and prime prospects make for enjoyable hypotheticals with Main League transactions approaching a three-month standstill.
On the finish of the day, nevertheless, there are such a lot of transferring elements concerned even in these theoretical workout routines that it’s exhausting to see the Padres discovering a strategy to make the items work. Nonetheless, even a tangential Padres involvement within the Olson market is of some notice. Their lurking presence might carry implications on the asking value Oakland can put forth to different golf equipment, and if commerce talks with different suitors drag on lengthy sufficient post-lockout, it’d solely give the Padres extra time to drag off their newest trade-market stunner.