The 2016 season won't be much different than 2015, except for in terms of expectations. The Padres sold off some of the previous offseason's prizes in order to fuel a future San Diego success. They aren't quite in a rebuild, but also aren't quite competing, and until they make a decision one way or another this summer, they're going to be hard to appreciate.
The most important Padres additions are the ones who won't play for the team on Opening Day. Prospects Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra came back for Craig Kimbrel, and immediately became two of San Diego's best in the minors. Margot in center and Guerra at short is a vision of the Padres' future -- maybe as early as 2017 if things go as perfectly as A.J. Preller hopes.
All additions: Jon Jay, Alexei Ramirez, Christian Bethancourt, Fernando Rodney, Matt Thornton, Drew Pomeranz, Dan Straily
The Padres took a gamble on a year of Justin Upton, and all they have left to show for it is a compensation pick in the first round of the 2016 draft. It's tough to get over the loss of Upton when one of the replacements for outfield time is Jon Jay.
All departures: Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Yonder Alonso, Ian Kennedy, Shawn Kelley, Joaquin Benoit, Jedd Gyorko
The Padres still have talent, enough so that they could win a wild card without shocking the world. It would take a full season of Matt Kemp mashing, the successful and healthy return of Wil Myers, and serious production from a rotation that, Tyson Ross aside, underperformed a year ago. It's a stretch to assume all of that would happen, but this is much of the same core, minus Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel, that the Padres leaned on a year ago. There is more depth, even if there are fewer stars, and it just might work.
The Padres could be stuck in a situation where most of their remaining trade chips fail to produce in a way that helps them hasten the rebuilding process. The Padres have already spent a decade bouncing around the middle, and 2016 would mark 10 years without a playoff appearance. The only thing worse would be a season that makes it feel like that drought will easily stretch to 12 or 15 or beyond.
Lineup: Jon Jay, Cory Spangenberg, Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Yangervis Solarte, Alexei Ramirez, Melvin Upton Jr.
Rotation: Tyson Ross, James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea, Robbie Erlin