Could SF Giants division rivals be surprise sellers at trade deadline?

Tampa Bay Rays v San Diego Padres
Tampa Bay Rays v San Diego Padres / Denis Poroy/GettyImages

The SF Giants are right in the mix of the playoff hunt as they sit with a 54-44 record, which is good enough for first place in the Wild Card standings. They appear to be buyers at the trade deadline, but a division rival, the San Diego Padres, could become surprise sellers.

Could SF Giants division rivals be surprise sellers at trade deadline?

Robert Murray of FanSided was asked about what the Padres' plans are at the trade deadline and he hinted that San Diego could become sellers:

""Preller could dominate a seller’s market with free-agents-to-be Josh Hader and Blake Snell, who would be the best reliever and starting pitcher on the trade market if they become available. And if they are open to discussing Juan Soto, who is under contract through 2024, they would also have the best hitter on the trade market... The Padres’ preference has been to be buyers. But at 46-50, and 9.5 games back in the National League West, they may soon have to be real with themselves.""

Robert Murray

The Padres have made some big moves in recent years, acquiring Juan Soto last year and signing Xander Bogaerts to a huge 11-year, $280 million deal this past winter. They joined the likes of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Yu Darvish who are all on lucrative contracts as well

As a whole, the Padres have committed $285 million against the cap according to Cot's. This puts them approximately $52 million above the Collective Bargaining Tax (CBT), so the expectation was that they would be competing for the top spot in the NL West.

However, that has not been the case as they have posted a 47-51 record in 2023. They are definitely in the playoff mix as they are only 5.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the third and final Wild Card spot. Though, the Cincinnati Reds (53-46) and the Miami Marlins (53-47) sit in front of the Padres in the standings as well.

So, the 2023 campaign has not gone as planned. If San Diego puts together a winning streak ahead of the trade deadline, they could definitely be in a better position.

That said, as Murray notes, the Padres could become key sellers at the trade deadline with expiring contracts such as Blake Snell and Josh Hader on the books as well as Juan Soto having 1.5 years of team control remaining.

It would be a surprise to see Soto traded at successive trade deadlines, but Snell and Hader would quickly become some of the best arms on the market. Plus, if the Padres do decide to sell, there is a financial incentive as they would look to minimize their tax liability as they will be taxed at 45 percent of their cap overage given that they exceeded the CBT last season.

It would be pretty hard to imagine A.J. Preller staying as team president of baseball operations if the Padres undergo a full sell-off. Normally, the weeks leading up to the deadline steer the ship one way or the other. If a team is hot and in the playoff mix, they will buy and vice versa.

The question is, could the Padres help the Giants if they decide to sell? Snell would go a long way in fortifying the rotation. However, given the lack of recent history in terms of trades between the two teams, it is hard to imagine the Padres helping out the Giants.

A lot can change between now and the trade deadline. As things currently stand, the Padres appear to be surprise sellers. Though, how they perform over the next 10 days will influence the team's direction.