The San Diego Padres are taking their nickname to literal new heights. They've spent the offseason as the father of baseball, sprinkling holy water on the rest of the league for each future pimp job from Fernando Tatis Jr.
General manager A.J. Preller proved he isn't messing around once again Monday when he traded for starting pitcher Joe Musgrove in a three-team deal that sent four prospects from the Padres to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Padres also gave pitcher Joey Lucchesi to the New York Mets. Since last August, the Padres have added Musgrove, Mike Clevinger, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish to their starting rotation. They have done so without giving up any of their top-five prospects outside of Luis Patiño, who was sent to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Snell trade.
That's an unprecedented haul of starting pitchers. Clevinger will miss the 2021 season -- he's signed through 2022 -- but they still have Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack to pair with Snell, Darvish and Musgrove. Paddack, who recently just turned 25 years old, essentially went from San Diego's ace as a rookie in 2019 where he had a 3.33 ERA to their No. 5 starter going into the 2021 season.
That's bad news for the Giants.
But it also brings us to the question: Are the Padres or the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers the bigger threat in the future to the Giants?
The Giants essentially could have made about the same move the Padres did to acquire someone like Musgrove. Would they want to make a deal centered around Luis Matos for a player like Musgrove right now? Probably not. Matos is the Giants' fastest-rising prospect. Baseball America just ranked the 18-year-old center fielder as San Francisco's No. 4 prospect. The Giants also aren't on the same track as the Padres for the 2021 season.
Sure, the Giants were one of baseball's better stories last season. They just missed the expanded playoffs, and truly blew their chances of doing so in the last week of the season. Mike Yastrzemski was a first-half MVP candidate and is no longer seen as a one-hit wonder.
The Padres feature two true NL MVP candidates -- Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado -- who are 22 and 28 years old, respectively. Machado is locked up through 2028, and the Padres already are talking with Tatis Jr. about an 11-year contract extension. They're setting themselves up for World Series ring now and down the road. Just look at Baseball America's Top 100 prospects.
When Giants fans and baseball nerds alike logged on to Twitter on Monday, they saw the Giants had three prospects -- Marco Luciano, Joey Bart and Heliot Rams -- on Baseball America's latest Top 100. The Padres had seven (!), and that's even after all these offseason moves. The Padres are looking to build a dynasty, rule the NL West and the rest of the majors for the next decade. But the Dodgers aren't going to relent in the meantime.
While the Dodgers finally got over their World Series hump last season, there's a reason they've won eight straight NL West titles. They open their wallets in free agency and aren't scared to go get stars like Mookie Betts thanks to building a great farm system, just like the Padres have. The Dodgers still have three prospects on Baseball America's Top 100, and pitchers Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin played key roles in their World Series run.
Betts (28) is signing through 2032 and Cody Bellinger (25) isn't a free agent until 2024 -- and you can bet he'll be a Dodger beyond that. Gavin Lux is only 23, Walker Buehler is 26 and Julio Urias, who was a star in the playoffs, doesn't turn 25 until August. It's not like the Dodgers have all their eggs in a basket that expires this November.
But Clayton Kerhsaw (32) is aging and Justin Turner (36) is a free agent. The Dodgers' big question revolves around World Series MVP Corey Seager (26), who becomes a free agent after this season.
Truth be told, the Giants always have had 2022 circled on their calendars. The contracts of Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Johnny Cueto all could come off San Francisco's books after this season. The Giants should be able to swing for the fences in free agency, and perhaps a handful of their top prospects will be ready to make big impacts. Bart could theoretically take over behind the plate for Posey, Ramos could man a spot as a power bat in the outfield and and maybe Luciano really is the Giants' version of Tatis Jr. Other top prospects like Patrick Bailey, Seth Corry, Sean Hjelle and Hunter Bishop might be big league-ready, too.
Musgrove was shipped to San Diego the same day The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the Giants "inquired" on star shortstop Francisco Lindor before he was traded to the New York Mets. The Giants have played bridesmaid to players like Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani is recent years, and reportedly checked in on Lindor. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has built a rising farm system and clearly is looking to strike on a star. Next offseason could be the perfect time.
The Dodgers and Padres aren't going away in the immediate future or in the long run. There's no doubt the Giants should be hoping for expanded playoffs in 2021 and beyond. All three teams could be in for a brawl to be the best of the West in the coming years. However, for the haul of starting pitchers the Padres have acquired, and their ability to keep so many top prospects, the Padres look like the bigger threat to the Giants going forward.
San Francisco is the home of the Giants, but San Diego now is the home of baseball's fathers, looking down at its measly little kids.