NewsLocal News


Padres open spring training with much lower payroll than last year

Petco Park
Posted at 6:12 PM, Feb 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-13 09:10:35-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Some Padres fans are tempering expectations for the upcoming season with the team slashing a significant amount from 2023's record payroll.

After topping $250 million in 2023, the reports were that the team would trim to around $200 million for 2024. However, entering spring training, the team's estimated payroll is somewhere between $143 million-$158 million, though the number that counts toward MLB's luxury tax is higher.

“Fans who are really plugged in understand that for the Padres, but it doesn’t make it an easier pill to swallow to understand that we’re ballers on a budget this year," said Craig Elsten, co-host of Annie & Elsten on 97.3 The Fan and the Padres Hot Tub podcast.

After a disappointing season when the Padres went "all in" with superstar-laden roster and failed to make the playoffs, Elsten says two substantial events occurred to necessitate a change in budget.

First, the team's television partner, Bally Sports San Diego, went bankrupt. MLB took over the team's broadcasts, but the Padres lost tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

Second, beloved owner Peter Seidler, who had electrified the city by making record investments in the team, passed away after an illness.

“With him disappeared Camelot for Padres fans. It truly felt in that way," Elsten said.

Fans who were skeptical that the team could continue spending the way they did in 2023 long-term are not surprised to see the payroll drop.

“I’m concerned from the standpoint of how much they can win, but it’s expected. I knew that there was no way they could hold on to those people," said longtime fan Robert Barnes.

But fans are still cautiously optimistic. After all, the roster is still loaded with stars, including Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove.

Elsten says the example to look to is last year's Arizona Diamondbacks team, which flew under the radar compared to the big-spending Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, then caught fire at the right time and went all the way to the World Series.

“The Padres remit for the next decade is not going to be do better than the Dodgers...It’s just to make the playoffs. Make the playoffs, get hot. Wildcard teams can be there every single year.”