Both men have scrapped for what they currently have in being major leaguers. Nothing has come easy to either, as they both have battled to get an opportunity to showcase their skills. Pirela was DFA’d by the Friars after the 2016 season and could have been claimed by any major league team. He re-signed in San Diego and exploded at the Triple-A level in El Paso. By the middle of the 2017 season, he was the Padres’ best offensive weapon.
Carlos Asuaje is small and not blessed with the best athletic ability. He has grinded his way all the way to the major league level, and doing that has given the man plenty of character. He is a team player, a silent leader, and provides the team with a nice left-handed bat from the second base position. Asuaje is also bi-lingual and communicates well with the whole 25-man roster.
With a crowd in the outfield, there is a chance that Jose Pirela will dip into Asuaje’s playing time in a major way. That could happen very soon.
Players like Wil Myers, Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero, and Hunter Renfroe need consistent at-bats at the major league level. Though Pirela was, and is, listed as the starting left fielder, his future could be at second base to open up plenty of playing time for some talented, young outfielders.
Andy Green really loves Asuaje and that is clear. He has started almost every game for the Padres this 2018 season.
Who will get the majority of the playing time moving forward in this 2018 season? It will be one of these two men, as Cory Spangenberg was sent down to Triple-A El Paso on Friday before the game against the Mets. His move was to clear space for Eric Hosmer, who was returning from a leave of absence.
Who will play the position moving forward? This is an interesting decision for Andy Green, as each player brings qualities to a team that deserve recognition and playing time. The answer is not as easy as you think either. Here is an argument for both and a what probably will happen:
The Case for Carlos
The scrappy left-handed infielder is capable of playing third base if needed, but his value is at second. Asuaje bring a lot to the table with his personality. He is an excellent clubhouse presence for a team that is full of youth. Even though Asuaje is not a veteran, he plays the game that way. You get a sense that he should be in the game for a long time in some capacity as he communicates well with others and works very hard. Asuaje is arguably the better defender of the two and has plenty of experience at the position. The Venezuelan second baseman is probably not in the team’s long-term plans, as Luis Urias is lurking and will be given every opportunity to play once he is deemed ready. You still have to figure Asuaje will get at-bats here and there at the very least.
The Case for Jose
You cannot deny that Pirela still deserves a chance to play everyday. Even though he has cooled off recently, he still leads the team in some very key offensive categories. The question with Pirela is if he can handle playing second base defensively, full-time. He would probably have below-average range at the position, but it is tough to call him a liability as he hasn’t logged in enough innings at the position to properly gauge his abilities. The Padres need to keep his value high in order to possibly flip him soon. Pirela should get plenty of at-bats. The question is just where will he play on defense. The advantage of having him at second is that Margot, Myers, and Cordero can all play at the same time.
In the end, the Padres will probably give the majority of the playing time to Jose Pirela at second base. He has a bat that needs to be in the lineup and taking time away from Asuaje is not contrary to “trusting the process”. Luis Urias is the heir to second base and he will be ready fairly soon. Pirela could increase his value and ultimately fetch a prospect in July. At that point, the team can turn back to Asuaje as Luis Urias is eased into major league service time. Expect to see Pirela on a nightly basis unless he completely cools off. Carlos Asuaje will get his share of at-bats too as Andy Green continues to mix and match the Padres’ lineup, driving the fan base crazy.