Analyzing the current San Diego Padres’ outfielder situation

Credit: AP Photo

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Here is a look at the 2020 San Diego Padres outfield.

The 2019 offseason has been a busy one for A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres.

There have been three trades, and two of those trades involved outfielders.

Tommy Pham and Trent Grisham were brought in likely because of their ability to get on base. The Padres have an overflow of outfielders on the 40-man roster, and something must be done eventually. Let’s take a look at the group and determine if there are improvements that can be made.

Tommy Pham
Coming via trade from Tampa Bay, Tommy Pham was an absolute steal from the Rays. He plays good defense and gets on base consistently. The right-handed hitter owns a career .373 OBP and .844 OPS. He brings excellent plate discipline, doesn’t chase out of the zone, and punishes mistakes. Pham will be one of the Padres’ best hitters. 

What the numbers don’t tell you is what Pham brings off the field. He’s a born leader that has been through trials and tribulations in his life that have made him mentally strong, as well as a gifted ballplayer. Pham will be a clubhouse leader and bring a winning mentality to the team. The 31-year-old should be locked in left field and will bat high in the order, likely second. Unfortunately, he’s one of the only locks in the outfield. 

Wil Myers
Due to his contract, if he’s still on the team, Wil Myers will likely start most games to open the year. Earning $20 million and sitting on the bench is something no GM or manager wants to see, so Myers should get every opportunity to start this year in the lineup. He does have the potential to be a 30-home run and 20 stolen base threat, but has yet to put it all together at the plate consistently. The lanky Myers also struggles at times in the outfield, especially in center field. He has all the tools required to play the position, but again, hasn’t been able to put it all together consistently. The new coaching staff will be tasked with unlocking whatever it is that is keeping Myers from reaching his full potential. A.J. Preller has been shopping him around this offseason. For now, Wil Myers is still a Padre and should bat in the sixth or seventh spot.

Manuel Margot
The only true center fielder on the roster is Manuel Margot. Although most of the other outfielders can play in center, none of them can match the defensive prowess of Margot. He became more comfortable defending around the wall, stealing hits from opposing batters. The speedy outfielder improved his base running, swiping 20 of 24 bases this past season. The issue with Margot is his batting. Since his breakout rookie campaign in 2017, Margot’s numbers have declined. Last season was his worst full season as he recorded a .234 batting average and an OBP of .304. If Margot can improve his on-base ability to around .350-.400, he would be a solid player. According to Fangraphs, he had 1.8 WAR last season, and if he could raise his OBP, he could be a three-plus WAR player. Unfortunately, he is not trending in that direction. His current offensive output puts a strain on the offense. With Pham in left field and Myers in right field, Margot would seemingly fit perfectly in center field. The team may also want to move on from him due to his lack of production.

Trent Grisham
With the ability to play all three outfield positions, and the potential to get on base at a high clip, Grisham should be able to earn his way onto the opening day roster and could even be a starter. After adjusting his batting grip in 2019, Grisham was able to have a breakout season and earn himself a call up with the Brewers. His batting average was only .231, but his OBP was .328, showing he had plate discipline. If Grisham can gain consistency at the plate, he could lock down one of the outfield spots for years to come. The left-handed hitter could start the season as the fourth outfielder, platoon with Margot in center, or even start opening day in right field.

Franchy Cordero 

If he could only stay healthy, Franchy Cordero could solve a lot of issues for the Padres. The Dominican can hit for power, bats left-handed, and is quick. He is currently playing for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League and has been scorching hot at the plate with an OPS above 1.100. More importantly, he has shown improved plate discipline and has an OBP over .500. He has generally played in center field but has struggled defensively at times with the Padres at that position. If he were moved to right field, he could focus on hitting and not be such a hindrance on defense. He could also theoretically be used strictly as a pinch hitter to try and keep him healthy. This is something the team would love to be able to work out, but depending on Cordero to stay healthy may not be the best idea for the Padres in 2020.

Josh Naylor
The former first baseman turned outfielder; Josh Naylor is also an option. His bat skills are undeniable. Naylor has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order run producer on a championship level team. Last season was a typical inconsistent rookie year, where he batted .249 and slugged .403. He did flash tons of potential at the plate, but his defense left a lot to be desired. Naylor mostly played left field, and his inexperience showed often. This offseason, he played 22 games in the outfield for Escogido. Naylor is clearly putting in the work to improve his game, but will it be enough to crack the 26-man roster? He may be more valuable in a trade to a team that needs a first baseman or a designated hitter.


These six players are likely vying for five opening day roster spots. It’s a talented group, but there is only one legitimate everyday player in Pham. There is a lot of untapped potential in Grisham and Naylor, and a healthy Cordero could produce at an exceptional level. There’s also rebound candidates in Myers and Margot, but is the team going to settle for a bunch of guys that might be or could be good? 

There’s already too many of them, and Preller should be looking to move at least one of them. However, the ideal situation would be to move two of them and add one more surefire starter to the mix. A player that would solidify the lineup and leave only one platoon in the outfield. A Kris Bryant or Mookie Betts would be phenomenal, but not very realistic. According to Spotrac, the payroll is higher than it’s ever been at $155 million, and it’s not very likely Preller will be allowed to spend more. 

Mitch Haniger or Starling Marte would be a good fit. Haniger would solidify right field while Margot and Grisham would fill center field. Marte could solidify center leaving Grisham and Cordero in right field. Other players could fit in similar ways. Wil Myers would need to be one of the players traded away for salary relief. 

There are two other outfielders on the 40-man roster and one top prospect who is not. Any of them could contribute in the future or be traded to acquire higher-end talent for the current roster.

Edward Olivares
The return in the Yangervis Solarte trade, Edward Olivares, was added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the 2018 Rule-5 draft. Olivares has the potential to be a major leaguer but likely will not contribute to the Padres until later in the year or 2021.

Jorge Ona
A more recent addition to the 40-man roster is Jorge Ona. The international signee was also added to avoid being available in the Rule-5 draft. He is unlikely to feature in the MLB squad in 2020. Likely starting in Double-A Amarillo, Ona will look to pick up where he left off in an injury-shortened 2019 season.

Taylor Trammell
One of the top prospects in the Padres’ system is recently acquired, Taylor Trammell. He is expected to start the season in the minors, and like Olivares could make his debut in late 2020 or 2021. He is expected to play center field with his outstanding defense. The only thing Trammell lacks is arm strength, but he is working on improving that. He is not on the 40-man roster, and a spot will have to be made available for him when he does make the team. This may make A.J. Preller consider bringing up Olivares first and waiting on Trammell until a spot opens on the 40-man roster.

With as many question marks throughout the outfield and the outfield depth, A.J. Preller should move two or more outfielders to make room for one more reliable player. Adding just one more bat to this lineup should be the key to getting this team from an 82-win team to a playoff team. The stability and production would take the 2020 San Diego Padres to the next level. If the Padres are serious about contending, this is a move that has to be made.

(Visited 3,146 times, 1 visits today)
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

I would disagree with trading any of them, much less two. As you pointed out, Franchy has the highest upside, but his injury history doesn’t allow the Padres to plan around him.

Margot and Myers have both lost a significant part of a season with injury, and Pham had a broken hand and elbow problems last year, and a broken foot the year before. Naylor has major league experience at the corners, but not much, and Grisham has even less.

Olivares, Ona, and Trammell are strictly minor leaguers in 2021, not likely to be called up. Allowing for injuries over a 162 game season, the Padres just don’t have the depth to trade any outfielders.

John Boccia
John Boccia
3 years ago

We need to get used to the idea we are stuck with Myers for now. Platoon him in right and 1b is what we can expect this season.

Cordero is the wild card but has missed so much time
He should start the year if healthy at El Paso.

The author is confused the pinch hitter is Naylor

3 years ago
Reply to  John Boccia

I think you and the Alex Yeargan grossly underestimate Myers. The talent is there, and he produced 3.5 WAR in 2016, and 3.0 WAR in 2017. He lost half the season to injury in 2018, and fell into the trap last year of trying to match Franmil and Renfroe in jacking solo homers to left, instead of his natural strength of hitting to all fields. Both Franmil and Renfroe are gone now – solo homers with 150 strikeouts just don’t get the job done.

In September, with Renfroe injured and Franmil traded, Myers went back to hitting the ball where it was pitched, and from August 30 to the end of the season, he went 25 for 79 (.316, .340 OBP) and raised his average from .222 to .239 and his OBP from .311 to .321, in just 1/6th of the season. If Tingler and his coaches can get him to continue hitting to all fields, he can duplicate or exceed his 2016 All Star season, and be the bat the Padres need.

3 years ago
Reply to  LarryLarry

Myers is what he is at this point. A scrub. And one who will disappear into obscurity after his contract expires in 3 years.

Matt Klemesrud
Matt Klemesrud
3 years ago

Good article and comments. If things break right, there is enough talent to stand pat. But what fun is that on a message board. So, to amuse me, consider this trade. Who would get the worst end of it considering salary, talent, etc. as a whole?

3B Nolan Arenado
C Austin Hedges
LHP Joey Lucchesi
1B/OF Josh Naylor (AAA)

1B/OF Wil Myers
3B Miguel Andujar
LHP J.A. Happ
CF Estevan Florial (AA)
LHP Jordan Montgomery (AAA)
RHP Domingo German

OF Charlie Blackmon
RHP Jon Gray
LHP Kyle Freeland
C Gary Sanchez
RHP Jonathon Loaisiga (AAA)

Frogman Friar
Frogman Friar
3 years ago

I’m praying that Myers does a complete 180 this year. We need him!

Greg W
Greg W
3 years ago

The best hope for AJ is Myers starts off in spring training and into the All-Star break with a complete turnaround, absolutely thumping the ball…wait, I just woke up. Darn, I was dreaming.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x