Kyle Schwarber– 2021 WAR total 3.2
This left-handed slugger brings a game-changing bat to the lineup each day. There are some defensive concerns, but Schwarber looks serviceable at first base. He can play left field, but sending him out there night after night is not a bonus to a team. If the DH comes to the NL, Schwarber will find more value. The slugger opted out of a $15 million mutual option for the 2022 season. He wants a multiple-year deal, and Schwarber will get it from someone.
Schwarber put up a .266/.374/.554 slash line with a .928 OPS last year between the Red Sox and the Nationals. There are some injury concerns with the left-handed hitter as he battles to stay in the lineup each day. Playing for a team utilizing the DH would assist his overall offensive numbers. Playing in 155 games during the 2019 season, Schwarber slammed 38 homers and drove in 92 runs.
Last winter, Schwarber signed a one-year deal with the Nationals at $10 million with the mutual option for the next season. He bet on himself, and Schwarber was very productive in 2021. There is no reason why the 29-year-old (in March) shouldn’t get a two or three-year deal with someone. If the Padres and the rest of the National League do become a league with a DH, then Schwarber will be in even more demand than he is now. There is a fit for the Padres (especially if they move Eric Hosmer), and this is a situation that could develop in the future. Schwarber is capable of providing great offensive numbers without breaking the bank.
Andrew McCutchen– 2021 WAR total 1.4
At one time, McCutchen was one of the best players in the league. The five-time All-Star and former NL MVP enjoyed some terrific years with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The right-handed hitter may be a shadow of his former self, but there is still some value there. From 2010-2018, McCutchen only missed 70 games. In the past, he showed great durability. A recent knee injury and the ravages of time are catching up to him now.
The Phillies took a $3 million buyout on McCutchen for the 2022 season instead of paying him the $15 million that he was due. A little surprising, as McCutchen produced at times last year for the Phillies. He will look for a multiple-year deal but may be signed to a one-year deal with incentives. At 35, there are age concerns with the right-handed hitter.
Andrew McCutchen is not a great fit for the Padres, but if he remains unemployed late into the spring, San Diego may show some interest. You will get a professional at-bat from the former MVP, and he is a great clubhouse presence. The Padres cannot expect much production from this outfielder, but in the right situation, he could be serviceable.
Chris Taylor– 2021 WAR total 2.6
The Los Angeles Dodgers got the most out of this infielder/outfielder, and they may choose to cut ties with him. The 31-year-old produced a .782 OPS last season for the Dodgers in 148 games and 507 at-bats. There is an excellent value as Taylor can play all over the field, including center field and shortstop. The versatility he brings in playing multiple defensive positions is a value in itself.
Taylor will look for the best contract available as he was dramatically underpaid with the Dodgers. This is a great chance for him to secure a multiple-year deal and make $7-12 million per season. The Dodgers may still bring back Taylor, who seemed vital in the 2020 World Championship run the franchise went on.
The Padres may have some interest, but Taylor is not an excellent fit. The Padres already have Ha-Seong Kim and Jurickson Profar, who can play all over the field and are considered super-utility players. Taylor is a starter, but the Padres may be looking for more offensive punch in free agency. Chris Taylor is the type of player that takes a whole season to appreciate. He will not wow you with his skills on the field when you first see him play the game of baseball.
Eddie Rosario– 2021 WAR total 1.1
The Dodger killer would be an interesting fit for the Padres. Rosario recorded a 1.647 OPS as he won the 2021 NLCS MVP, going 14-for-25 with three homers against Los Angeles this past postseason. He is a free-swinger and was locked in that series against the Dodgers. But what is his real value?
Rosario put up a .740 OPS in 2021 between the Indians and Braves, which is not good. He turned it on in Atlanta, recording a .903 OPS in 33 games after being traded by Cleveland. The outfielder produced in the playoffs, and his value is an enigma. Rosario made $8 million last year in the final year of his arbitration years. The career .782 OPS hitter is an offensive threat, but there are some concerns with the 30-year-old.
The Padres may value the left-handed bat and the fact he tortured the Dodgers, but Rosario may ask for more money than he is worth. At the same time, you may be swayed by his offensive jump in the playoffs and make the argument that he is just starting to figure it out. The Puerto Rican outfielder slugged 32 homers for the Twins in 2019, displaying great power potential. San Diego may show some interest, but Rosario may choose to stay on the East Coast and specifically with the Braves.
Mark Canha- 2021 WAR total 2.5
New Padres manager Bob Melvin has a lot of familiarity with this right-handed hitter. The former A’s outfielder/infielder gets on base well and shows a great eye at the plate. Canha walked 77 times last year and produced a .358 OBP in 141 games and 519 at-bats. Canha shows some power but is more of a gap hitter.
The soon-to-be 33-year-old is capable of playing centerfield as he manned the position for 23 games last year in Oakland. He has some speed but is not a massive threat in the basepaths. His game is about getting on base, and that worked well with the A’s. Canha will probably need to settle for a one-year deal, but he could be a decent player in a platoon.
The link to Melvin is real, but the Padres would need a left-handed-hitting complement to Canha to really get value from him. If Hosmer were moved, the Padres may like Canha in a platoon role at first base against left-handed hitters (With Kyle Schwarber, perhaps). Even if the team retains Hosmer, Canha would still be a good choice to back up the first baseman. There is a decent amount of interest here from both sides, and the Padres may be able to secure Canha on a low-cost, incentive-based deal. Keep an eye out on this one.
Jorge Soler– 2021 WAR total -0.3
There is so much to love about Soler, but he does come with a huge buyer beware. Health has always been an issue for the outfielder, and consistency is also a concern. We saw the best from Soler in the 2021 playoffs, but he did produce a negative WAR last year between the Royals and Braves.
Heading into his 30-year-old season, there is still some upside to Soler. The whole value of the outfielder revolves around getting him at-bats. In 2019, with the Royals, Soler played in all 162 games and slugged 48 homers, driving in 117 runs. The power is real, and he is also blessed with terrific footspeed.
The Padres would be risking a lot by giving Soler a two or three-year deal. But along with the risk comes a high upside. Most believe we have yet to see the best offensive numbers from Soler, and that is a scary thought considering his 2019 numbers in Kansas City. The interest in Soler for the Padres will come down to cost. Plain and simple.
*WAR totals via baseballreference.com