After making the 1998 World Series against the New York Yankees (which they lost), the San Diego Padres were mostly bad for a long period of time.
Between 1998 and 2020, they only had a pair of National League Division Series losses in 2005 and 2006.
They lacked direction and purpose from that moment until the mid-2010s.
AJ Preller took over as their general manager in late 2014, and started to slowly rebuild the franchise.
Still, they were still very much uncompetitive until 2020.
In fact, if you take a peek at their core in the 2017 season, you will probably want to look away.
Idk if I can even name all of the 2017 Padres' Core Four 😅 pic.twitter.com/IpZPse10Vc
— The Game Day MLB (@TheGameDayMLB) March 3, 2023
In case you were wondering, those pictured in 2017 are Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot, and Carlos Asuaje.
We are not saying they are bad players.
Renfroe blossomed into a legitimate 30-homer guy, Hedges is a terrific defensive catcher, and Margot is a good starting-caliber outfielder.
But there is just no comparison with their 2023 core of Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.
There is no comparison at all.
All of them are elite hitters, especially the last three, and Bogaerts is an all-around star.
What Preller started doing since he took over until the first Padres winning season in quite some time (2020) was build an elite farm system.
That enabled him to make impact players like Tatis debut and acquire elite talent via trade, such as Soto and most of their current rotation.
Once several prospects hit and they could sign impact players (Machado in 2019, Bogaerts this year), they started aiming at stars via trade.
Now, they are true National League contenders and a real threat to win the World Series.NEXT: Juan Soto Is Loving A New MLB Rule