Despite a forgetful series this weekend against the Astros that resulted in a sweep, the Braves are still off to one of their better starts in recent memory. They sit at 14-8 on the year and are currently in first place in the NL East by 0.5 games over the Mets. Compared to the last two seasons, every Braves fan should be thrilled, considering they’ve been able to overcome significant deficits in the division before on their way to five straight NL East titles.
With so many young players locked up to long-term and team-friendly deals, the Braves are in a position to be the best team in the National League for years to come. It’s something they’ve earned over the last half-decade, but they have a target on their back now, and there are several teams gunning for the throne.
With Steve Cohen now in control, his deep pockets will always keep the Mets relevant. But outside of the division there are also a few teams to watch, most notably, another big spender in the San Diego Padres.
The Padres haven’t notoriously been a team to keep an eye out for when discussing marquee free agents, but that’s changed in a big way over the last few years. It began when they inked Manny Machado to a mega-deal worth north of $300 million. They then went out and traded for Juan Soto, who they hope to extend soon, which could cost the team around half a billion. And most recently, they offered Aaron Judge a contract of over $400 million before settling and signing Xander Boegarts to a massive deal worth nearly $300 million.
San Diego is going to continue spending like few other teams moving forward. It’s a safe bet to assume they will make a run at Shohei Ohtani next offseason, and they are fresh off an appearance in the NLCS. They are serious about becoming the powerhouse franchise in Southern California, a title that has been owned by the Dodgers forever.
Which brought about this question on MLB Network’s High Heat with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who was asked which franchise — the Braves or the Padres — will have more World Series appearances in the foreseeable future? To which Russo took no time to say the Braves.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) April 24, 2023
It’s impossible for me to avoid bias when talking about these kinds of topics. I agree with Russo; the Braves have established themselves as the class of the National League. They get the most bang out of their buck when it comes to contracts, and they are spending more than ever before. Atlanta has a World Series in the last two seasons, and has been to two of the last three National League Championship Series. They also won 101 games last year on their way to their fifth straight NL East title.
With nearly their entire starting lineup locked into long-term deals, it’s difficult to imagine them struggling at any point over the next 5-10 years. The Padres, on the other hand, have some critical decisions to make.
Juan Soto is set to become a free agent at the end of next season, and who knows how some of these mega-contracts will pan out with age. San Diego also has a very weak rotation that features very little hope in the form of youth. Money can fix a lot of these issues, but there is more risk with the type of contracts the Padres are handing out left and right than there are with the deals the Braves have signed. Regardless, these teams could be on a collision course for years to come, and if the results from this year’s season series are any indication, potential playoff matchups should produce some thrilling memories.
Photo: John Adams/Icon Sportswire