Predicting A.J. Preller’s next move is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There just isn’t any way to know what he is doing. He is the type of G.M. that makes moves three steps ahead of everyone else. Fans are currently up in arms because they cannot figure out what he is doing.
His new acquisition of Christian Bethancourt has given the Padres four catchers who are capable major league catchers. Derek Norris and Austin Hedges return from last season and the Padres claimed Josmil Pinto from the Minnesota Twins early in the offseason. Both Pinto and Bethancourt are out of minor league options so each will have to remain on the 25 man roster or be traded.
It seems unlikely that the Padres will keep both, all though A.J. Preller recently announced that Hedges could start the season in Triple-A. That could be an option, but he is clearly ready for big league action. It really remains to be seen what the Padres are going to do with their catching depth.
The most likely option is a trade, but it is A.J. Preller we are talking about. Contrary to what some fans believe he doesn’t make trades just for the sake of making trades. If value isn’t paid for either Norris or Hedges, then they will not be dealt. He could conceivably start the season with Norris and Bethancourt behind the plate and Pinto as a backup first baseman. Pinto is not known for his defense but he does have a lot of power and a good right handed bat. Again predicting Preller and the Padres moves is very difficult to do. There are teams out there looking for catchers, so let’s explore the Texas Rangers as a possible trade destination. They have been exploring trade options with the Milwaukee Brewers regarding Jonathan Lucroy, but nothing has happened as of yet. They also were known to be very interested in Matt Wieters before he signed his qualifying offer with the Baltimore Orioles. The team is not happy with its current catching situation and most definitely looking to make a move.
The Texas Rangers are a franchise that the Padres general manager is very knowledgable about. He worked for the Rangers organization for 10 years and had direct knowledge of their farm system. Could the Padres make a huge push for someone like Joey Gallo? I know that sounds outrageous but the Padres have the talent the Rangers covet. Andrew Cashner, Derek Norris and Tyson Ross are all very appealing to the Rangers.
Jurickson Profar also remains an intriguing option. The Padres need at shortstop is huge and the former #1 prospect in all of baseball is finally looking healthy after two years of shoulder issues. He is still only 22, so to call him washed up or injury prone would be foolish. It still remains to be seen if he will be able to play the field. He was raking the ball in the Arizona Fall League, but failed to play an inning on the field.
The Padres and Rangers match up well in a trade. The Rangers have some young quality major league ready talent and the Padres have the position players and starting pitching the Rangers covet. Gallo would be a huge haul for the Padres and seems unlikely. The Padres would probably have to give up Ross and Hedges just to get the ball rolling. Gallo’s power grades out as top notch. Nobody in minor league baseball has as much power potential as this 22-year-old left handed third baseman. He does strike out a ton and has some work to do in shortening his swing for major league pitching, but he represents the type of top quality prospect the Padres covet for Ross.
There is no debating the need for the Rangers, but it remains to be seen if they would be willing to make a big move. Trading Joey Gallo would be very tough for them, but seeing what the Diamondbacks paid for Shelby Miller, makes anything possible. If a reigning #1 overall draft pick can be dealt, then anything is truly possible.