Unlike opening day, not many are predicting the Padres to make a playoff push as the second half approaches.
The team is 10 games back in the National League West race and are 7 1/2 back of the Wild Card.
A real emphasis will be placed on the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and who the Padres decide to trade and who they keep.
General manager A.J. Preller was very active in his first offseason with the Padres and has indicated he will take a “creative” approach to this year’s trade deadline
Here are five questions that Preller and the rest of the Padres’ brass face heading into the second half:
1. What to do with Justin Upton?
Preller acquired Upton from the Atlanta Braves in the offseason, knowing he had just one year left on his contract.
With the Padres falling behind in the playoff race, it has been rumored that Upton—the team’s only All-Star—might be on the move to a team higher in the standings.
A deal of Upton would label the Padres as sellers, considering he leads the team in homers, RBIs and stolen bases.
However, if the team does decide to keep him, he could command over a $200 million contract in the offseason, which would make him the highest paid player in team history.
2. Will the “real” Matt Kemp show up?
Many have made reference to Matt Kemp’s twitter handle (@TheRealMattKemp), but it seems fitting considering that Kemp has not played like himself this year.
After being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason, Kemp has staggered to a .250 batting average, eight homers and a .295 on-base percentage.
Good news for Padres fans, though, is that Kemp led all the majors with 17 homers and 54 RBIs in the second half of last season. He also had eight homers heading into the second half of last season.
With Kemp, 30, under contract until 2019, the front office has no choice but to hope they can find the “real Matt Kemp.”
3. Who’s going to lead the helm next season?
Although it’s expected that interim manager Pat Murphy will continue his role for the remainder of this year, a main storyline heading into next season will be who the team’s next manager will be.
The team fired Bud Black on June 15 after eight-plus playoff-less seasons. They have been 9-16 since Black’s dismissal.
While their has not been much speculation on who might replace Black and Murphy, names like former Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, former Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and former Padres first baseman Phil Nevin could be names to watch.
4. What will the Padres get from Wil Myers in the second half?
One of the bigger disappointments in the first half was the 24-year-old Wil Myers, who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in Preller’s flurry of December trades. However, the disappointment did not revolve around his play.
Myers has missed 55 games this season due to a wrist injury, which currently has him on the 15-day disabled list.
He underwent surgery to remove a bone spur on June 18 and was expected miss eight weeks from that point.
Another development to watch for Myers, if he does return this season, is where the team plays him.
Myers played 30 games at center in the first half, but also played five games at first, mostly right before he went on the disabled list.
Might the team keep Myers at first and move Yonder Alonso to third, or will they keep him in center?
5. Who stays, who goes?
As mentioned previously, a big storyline of the second half will be who’s traded and who’s not.
Padres ownership has stated that they do not plan on a fire sale, especially since they will be hosting the 2016 All-Star Game.
While the team does not plan a fire sale, it would be surprising if Preller was not active at the deadline, considering his history.