Buy or sell? Advance or retreat? Go for it or bide time for better days ahead?
The Padres will wrestle with those conundrums into next week. Those with weak souls might shutter at the thought of deciding the direction of the local nine.
What’s clear is that a local will make the call on if the Padres are aggressive at the July 31 trading deadline. It’s a Rubicon moment for every team in the Majors as they balance the present versus the future and Padres general manager A.J. Preller is the one weighing the pros and cons.
Preller will have input on every personnel matter regarding the Padres being buyers are sellers. The man who lives in the shadow of Encinitas’ Moonlight Beach only has a few more sun ups and downs to chart the Padres’ path.
Padres fans — bless their patient souls — are cognizant of the rocky road leading to this point.
For eight straight seasons they’ve sat through baseball played at a level well-below .500 and needing a telescope to locate the National League West leaders. With it usually being the Los Angeles Dodgers, there’s no fun in that.
Even this year’s Padres, despite brimming with fresh talent and confidence, are on the wrong side of the ledger.
That’s not to say what’s down is up. But there is promise sprinkled throughout the clubhouse as Preller’s handiwork in reshaping the roster is finally paying dividends at the varsity level.
Shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr., at 20 years old, is already among the most exciting players in the majors.
Second baseman Luis Urias, 22, was recently promoted and is penciled in to be Tatis’ running mate for years to come.
Catcher Francisco Mejia, 23, could be the man that runs off fan favorite, but the weak-hitting, Austin Hedges.
Manuel Margot has surged of late and power-hitting outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes strike fear into pitchers.
Speaking of hurlers, the Padres have many that would be carded, and some turned away, at any area watering hole.
Joey Lucchesi, Chris Paddack, Cal Quantrill, Andres Munoz, and the latest boy wonder, Adrian Morejon, reveal poise and production beyond their years. Others, like MacKenzie Gore and Logan Allen, are in the pipeline.
Back to the question: Does Preller veer from this slow, and sometimes maddening, rebuilding job by trading off peach-fuzz pieces for a potential slice of the postseason pie?
When clubs dial the cell phone that seldom leaves Preller’s ear, they seek one of the kids killing it somewhere in the Padres’ organization.
In return the Padres could receive a veteran with a baseball card full of statistics. But is it worth sacrificing what-might-be, for a chance at a one-game, winner-take-all playoff shot?
The Padres are light years away from the division-leading Dodgers but in the hunt for a National League wildcard berth. The two teams with the best records, and not being a division champion, will square off to advance in the playoffs.
Is peddling Padres prospects worth gambling a sustainable winning future by potentially improving their chance for this year’s postseason?
How the Padres perform leading up to the deadline will make Preller’s predicament easier.
The fading Padres have the look of sellers after losing three-game series to the lowly Miami Marlins and steady Chicago Cubs after the All-Star break. Plus, there are five teams ahead of the Padres in the wildcard race, with them being five games off the pace through Monday.
Padres ownership has always pointed to 2020 as the season in which this recast team is competitive. It’s not hindsight to state that should remain the mission.
Top: Padres GM A.J. Preller has some decisions to make ahead of baseball’s July 31 trading deadline. Photo courtesy San Diego Padres/Andy Hayt