The 2016 season is well underway. The San Diego Padres have already played seven Spring Training games and the season is in full swing. Going into Spring Training, the Padres had quite a few question marks around the diamond. From the starting lineup, to the pitching staff, to the bullpen, to the bench, there are plenty of roster spots to be earned over the next few weeks.
While the starting nine in the lineup seems at least fairly set, barring any impressive showings in Spring Training, the bench has yet to be fleshed out. Specifically in the infield. While the Padres starting infield is fairly certain to be Wil Myers, Cory Spangenberg, Alexei Ramirez, and Yangervis Solarte, who will back up those guys is still to be determined. There are no shortage of options in Peoria, and it should be an interesting competition to watch this Spring.
Given there will likely be five bench spots up for grabs, with two of those for outfielders and one for a catcher, that leaves two spots available for infielders. At this point, there is eight players fighting for those last two roster spots in the infield. Here’s a quick rundown of the potential candidates for that utility infielder role.
2015 Numbers: 64 games, 107 plate appearances, .302/.374/.521, 149 wRC+
The player with perhaps the best chance of making the Padres 2016 roster in first baseman/pinch hitter Brett Wallace. In 2015, Wallace excelled in that role for the Padres. While Wallace did not get much time in the field, he can play a respectable first base as well as third base in a pinch. Given his recent success in San Diego, Wallace has as good a chance as any of the guys on this list of making the roster this year.
Chances of Making Opening Day Roster: 90%
2015 Numbers: 55 games, 125 plate appearances, .228/.296/.342, 71 wRC+
Coming off a year in which he saw limited time in a utility role, Rosales is looking to earn a big league roster spot for 2016. Never known for his bat, Rosales hit just .228 in 2015. While his bat isn’t great off the bench, Rosales does provide a great deal of versatility and could be useful for the Padres because of his ability to play multiple positions throughout the infield. His offense may hold him back from making the roster, but he will be given every chance in Spring Training.
Chances of Making Opening Day Roster: 50%
2015 Numbers: 118 games, 357 plate appearances, .204/.257/.287, 49 wRC+
Coming off of one of the worst offensive seasons in recent memory, Padre fans rejoiced when Alexi Amarista was replaced in the starting lineup by Alexei Ramirez. Although Amarista will not be a starter in 2016, he could still make the Opening Day Roster. Given his ability to play multiple infield positions, as well as the outfield, Amarista could be much more useful as a bench piece. Despite his poor offensive showing, Amarista does play strong defense and could excel in a defensive replacement, utility role. Due to his position as a starter last season, Amarista has a pretty good chance of making the roster this season.
Chances of Making Opening Day Roster: 80%
2015 Numbers (in AAA): 70 games, 266 plate appearances, .204/.297/.281, 70 wRC+
One of the Padres quieter offseason signings was the signing of infielder Jemile Weeks to a minor league contract. Coming off a season in which he saw less than 10 plate appearances at the big league level, Weeks is looking to return to the bigs in 2016. Despite a poor showing in the minor leagues last season, Weeks has excelled so far in Spring Training, getting hits in half of his eight at bats to this point. Weeks is a long shot to make the roster given his offensive struggles, but stranger things have happened.
Chances of Making Opening Day Roster: 25%
2015 Numbers (in AAA): 86 games, 339 plate appearances, .262/.308/.328, 83 wRC+
Another player coming off a poor season in Triple A in another organization is Nick Noonan. A former Giants farmhand, Noonan is looking for a fresh start and a chance with a new organization. Noonan is perhaps even a longer shot than Weeks, although he does have three hits in eight at bats so far in Spring Training.
Chances of Making Opening Day Roster: 15%
2015 Numbers: 131 games, 268 plate appearances, .242/.306/.336, 73 wRC+
One of the more notable infield additions made this offseason, Skip Schumaker is the most veteran of any player on this list, and may have the best chance of making the roster of any of the new additions. Schumaker is coming off a respectable season in Cincinnati as a utility player. Schumaker could also very well be listed in the outfield section, as he saw a majority of his time in the outfield last year. Given that versatility, it is somewhat realistic that three players from this list could make the roster if Schumaker is used exclusively as an outfielder. Either way, his experience and versatility gives him a pretty good chance at cracking the Opening Day roster.
Chances of Making Opening Day Roster: 70%
2015 Numbers (in Double A): 76 games, 307 plate appearances, .271/.378/.581, 173 wRC+
The player who is on the bottom of the infield totem pole appears to be Ryan Schimpf. Despite excelling in the minor leagues in 2015, Schimpf would have to jump from Double A to the Majors if he is to stick on the roster. Out of all these guys, this is the biggest long shot of them all.
Chances of Making Opening Day Roster: 5%
2015 Numbers (in Triple A): 60 games, 259 plate appearances, .325/.390/.433, 142 wRC+
Last but not least is offseason acquisition Jose Pirela. Out of all the players on this list, Pirela has seen the most frequent action so far this Spring Training, collecting only one hit in 12 at bats. Pirela also has some major league action from last season in New York, although a majority of his season was spent in Triple A. Pirela excelled in AAA last season, but was unable to translate it to major league success. It’s clear he will be given every chance to make the Padres roster next season, and should be a player to watch for the remainder of Spring Training.
Chances of Making Opening Day Roster: 60%
Of all the players on this list, both Brett Wallace and Alexi Amarista look like the surest bets to make the roster. The trio of Skip Schumaker, Jose Pirela, and Adam Rosales appear to have the best chances after those two, while Jemile Weeks, Nick Noonan, and Ryan Schimpf appear to be real long shots. With just under a month until the regular season starts, there is still a lot to spots to be decided on the Padres roster. The infield is no different.