The San Diego Padres have one goal for the 2023 season.
Anything less than a World Series title will not satisfy the ownership group, which has committed so much in the last few years.
The Padres are built to win now, and with the current roster, they should achieve their goal. The offensive unit will be boosted by the arrival of Xander Bogaerts as well as Fernando Tatis once he ends his suspension in late April. The team should score more runs, and that will only add to their win total when it is all said and done.
A.J. Preller and his staff are finishing off the roster construction this winter. There are some avenues that the Padres may explore via trade, but for the most part, the starting jobs seem to be all but assured. The Padres may add a starting pitcher via free agency. Corey Kluber, Johnny Cueto, and Nathan Eovaldi all make sense to some degree. The Padres have been linked to Cueto and Eovaldi and may develop an interest in Kluber depending on his cost.
As far as the bench is concerned, there are some additions that will probably need to be made.
Currently, Jose Azocar, David Dahl, Eguy Rosario, and Taylor Kohlwey make up the bench for the Padres. Dahl is a veteran with health concerns, but the other three players are very young and inexperienced. Azocar accumulated all his major league experience last season for the Padres to mixed reviews.
There are some interesting names out there who could interest the Padres, and one of them is AJ Pollock.
The 11-year veteran is a right-handed hitter who traditionally smashes left-handed pitching. The center fielder would be an excellent reserve for Grisham, who does struggle against southpaw pitching. Pollock is 35 and coming off a season in Chicago where he played in 138 games for the White Sox.
Pollock recorded a career-low OPS of .681 last year and put up a .245/.292/.389 slash line. He did, however, record a .935 OPS versus left-handed pitching last season, slugging 11 homers in 126 at-bats. In small doses and inserted in the lineup against lefties, Pollock still has some value.
Jose Azocar fits that need for the Padres presently, but the outfielder recorded a .629 OPS last year for the Padres. The 26-year-old does not have a lot of tools and is honestly nothing more than minor-league depth or a possible fourth or fifth outfielder. If the Padres truly want to go deep into the playoffs, they need to load the roster with hungry veterans who can heat up and carry you late in the season and into the playoffs. A player who you can insert in the lineup. Azocar is not that player.
AJ Pollock is not going to set the world on fire, but he can produce if used correctly. As a reserve for Grisham, the Padres could do a lot worse than Pollock.
In the end, it will come down to cost. Pollock made $13 million last season and will not earn anything close to that this winter. A one-year deal with incentives may be enough for the Padres to secure this veteran. A.J. Preller is undoubtedly on the look for players this winter as the free-agent pool dwindles. Stay tuned, as the current roster will likely be adjusted as we head into spring training this February.