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The San Diego Padres and New York Mets were the toast of the Major League Baseball offseason.
Both franchises brought in big names to add on to an already talented core group of players.
The Padres signed Xander Bogaerts to a massive, 12-year contract. They also added Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz after acquiring Juan Soto and Josh Hader in trade at the 2022 deadline.
With Fernando Tatis Jr. set to return from his PED suspension, preseason expectations for the team were extremely high. And deservedly so.
Sportrac estimated the Padres’ total salary expenditures at $303,141,453, a gigantic figure for a relatively small market team.
Similarly, the Mets retained or added big name players to challenge the juggernaut Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
Brandon Nimmo resigned, Justin Verlander came in on a 2-year deal. Jose Quintana and Kodai Senga were supposed to shore up the rotation. Edwin Diaz stayed in town after an awe-inspiring 2022 season out of the bullpen.
And with Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Starling Marte anchoring the offense, the Mets were a trendy preseason World Series pick.
Given the team’s monstrous luxury tax bill, total salary estimates reached an eye-watering $489,014,260.
Both teams entering 2023 had huge, justifiable expectations, and an equally huge $792 million salary commitment.
Yet with essentially 25% of the season completed, both teams are under .500.
Padres and Mets Disappointing Preseason Expectations
Entering play on Saturday, both the Padres and Mets were just 19-20. Even worse, the Dodgers and Braves, both perennial rivals, jumped out to extremely hot starts.
The Braves, even with a two game losing streak, were tied for the second best record in the majors. And the Dodgers were just behind in third.
After the Padres’ third consecutive loss to LA, they fell five games back in the division. The Mets are even worse, starting Saturday six and a half games behind.
The explanations for their failures are varied, but lead to the same conclusion. Two organizations, spending nearly $800 million combined, with a record of 38-40.
The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, meanwhile, are spending $88 million and $74 million respectively. And they’re 55-23.
$638 million less in salary, and a 16 game lead on the Padres and Mets.
Even the Dodgers and Braves, frequently big spenders in their own right, are at “just” $490 million in luxury tax numbers. And they’re 49-28.
Spending money is great, but spending money wisely is significantly more important.
Playoff Futures Suddenly In Jeopardy
It’s still early, and some of the team’s struggles haven’t entirely been predictable.
Edwin Diaz suffered a season ending fluke injury in the World Baseball Classic. Jose Quintana hasn’t thrown a single pitch. Justin Verlander’s only made two starts.
In San Diego, Joe Musgrove and Fernando Tatis Jr. missed most of the first month.
But results are results, and money apparently doesn’t buy depth.
The Mets playoff odds have dropped significantly, while the Phillies have benefitted.
Similarly, the Dodgers have seized the opportunity, raising their odds to 93%, while the Padres have dropped to 72% from 86% early in the year.
Both New York and San Diego are still favored to make the playoffs, but a few more weeks of poor performance could easily change that.
Not to mention that when using Fangraphs’ playoff odds estimates based on in-season performance only, the numbers are even worse. The Mets drop to just 35%, and the Padres are just ahead at 40% behind even the Diamondbacks.
The Padres’ struggles with runners in scoring position has become a tremendous issue, while the Mets poor rotation performance has been a consistent problem.
READ: THE METS $130 MILLION ROTATION HAS ACTUALLY COST THE TEAM WINS
There’s a classic saying that money doesn’t buy happiness.
If you ask Padres and Mets fans right now, they’d almost certainly agree.