It is early, but let’s take a look at the San Diego Padres roster for next year.
In 2020, MLB rosters will expand to 26 players on the everyday game roster.
The San Diego Padres have big decisions to make regarding the 40-man roster this winter and even more issues when it comes to the 26 man roster next year.
It’s entirely too soon to predict who will make the roster next March, but since the team is out of contention- what’s the harm in looking forward to 2020?
The starting rotation will include a group of young hurlers. Garrett Richards is a veteran, but he will be one of them. A.J. Preller did not spend $15 million on Richards for him not to pitch. He will also likely be the opening day starter due to his veteran status.
This would theoretically leave two rotation spots for one of these players listed below.
There is also the possibility of adding a high priced free agent such as Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. Many more pitchers could be available this winter. The Padres, or any team, could certainly benefit from adding top talent to their rotation. The issue for the Padres is that adding a pitcher block or creates a roadblock for high-ceiling pitchers like Gore and Patino. It also begs the question- why sign a high-priced free agent arm when the Padres have one or even two ace-caliber pitchers coming up from the farm?
The relief pitching is likely to take up eight or nine spots on the roster. Kirby Yates is locked in unless he’s traded. Andres Munoz, Jose Castillo (provided he is healthy), Michel Baez, Matt Strahm are all likely locked in as well. There will be a lot of competition for the last available spots, many of whom are listed below.
There is also the possibility of any of the remaining starting pitchers moving to the bullpen, as well as adding a free agent. There is likely going to be some changes for the bullpen, but far from a house cleaning. A few of the men listed above could be cut this November as the team clears room on their 40-man roster.
The area of the team with the most question marks is undoubtedly the outfield. The Padres have a plethora of outfielders and have not been able to find a consistent starting lineup. The Padres will likely keep four or five outfielders. One of those players is likely going to be Wil Myers simply due to his contract. Preller would have to either eat some of the salary or send top prospects along with him in a trade. Preller does not have the luxury of eating salary this year, and he has yet to show the willingness to part with prospects, so anything is possible. Manuel Margot has had a good second half, while Hunter Renfroe has not performed. Josh Naylor has received a lot of playing time as well as Nick Martini. However, none of these players seem to be a lock as a starter next season. The players vying for an outfield spot on the 26 man roster are listed below.
The Padres are deep at catcher. With defensive guru Austin Hedges, and big-hitting Francisco Mejia with the big league club, they are presently set. Austin Allen has spent time with the MLB club as well as Luis Torrens when he was a Rule-5 selection. The catcher with the highest ceiling is likely Luis Campusano, although he currently plays for the High-A Lake Elsinore Storm. Campusano does not need to be added to the 40-man roster. Therefore he is likely to play 2020 in the minors.
Hedges was in the newspaper for comments about his playing time earlier in the year. Will that make upper management more likely to move him? Or do they see the value in a top defensive catcher? Only time will tell. Mejia is almost certain of a roster spot; the only question is- at what position? He has spent some games in the outfield, and his offensive production is much needed in the lineup every day. If neither Hedges or Mejia are catching in 2020, the Padres could add a veteran to compete with Torrens and Allen.
Second base and the subsequent utility player positions are certainly up for grabs. Luis Urias is the front runner for the starting second base job, being the highest-rated prospect at the position. His lack of production at the plate and inability to hit higher speed pitching may put that in jeopardy. Ty France has been given multiple games at second base to get his power bat in the lineup and prove he can at least man the position defensively. Greg Garcia is a fine utility man with the capability of playing multiple infield positions while maintaining the high OBP that the Padres so dearly need. There is also Ian Kinsler. The Padres have him under contract for 2020 and Kinsler is just one hit short of 2000 in his career. Cutting him now may not go over well with the Players Association or Kinsler. He is a vested veteran that deserves to be treated better. He’s likely to make the roster. Keeping three of the four above players is a possibility, but it’s highly unlikely that all four will be on the 26 man roster.
The job A.J. Preller has in the upcoming offseason will be a big one. Will he add another big contract to the payroll? Or instead, trade for upgrades? He also had the distinct ability to simply start the year with what he has, let the kids play, and learn how to succeed in the MLB together.
First things first, however, within five days of the end of the World Series all rosters must be at 40, the Padres currently have 51 men on theirs. Before the 26 man roster can be finalized, they must first finalize the 40 man roster. It’s a long way until Spring Training, and a lot will change between now and then. It’s still fun to look forward to seeing what the team may do for 2020.