The Padres have more options than spots available for their Opening Day roster.
Thanks to several moves and returning healthy players, the Friars have an embarrassment of riches in the bullpen.
Of course, Kirby Yates is not going anywhere at the back end of the Padres ‘pen as the closer, fresh off of his first All-Star campaign. Recent acquisitions Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan will likely serve as the setup men from either side in the eighth inning.
Beyond those three, something has got to give for the other presumed five spots.
One would think Craig Stammen, Andres Muñoz, and Matt Strahm are locks for the bullpen as well. This leaves two spots open for Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Cal Quantrill, Jose Castillo, Luis Perdomo, with other hopeful prospects like former Japanese League hurler Pierce Johnson.
The Friars are hoping to stretch Baez into a starter, which could take him out of the race for a bullpen spot and also mean he could start the season in El Paso to hone his skills as a starter.
Spots are limited for a guy like Morejon, who is trying to elbow his way into the bullpen. If he does not grab hold of a place in the spring, he will start the season down in the minors, and the Friars may explore options to deal the Cuban lefty.
There is a tricky situation brewing with one Javy Guerra entering the mix. He is out of Minor League options, so the Padres cannot keep him off of the Opening Day roster without exposing him to waivers. Plus, based on what fans and coaches have seen this spring, it might not be a wise move to let him go for nothing.
Guerra is wildly talented and also incredibly raw. This could mean the Padres have a failed prospect trying to hopelessly resurrect his career- or the next Trevor Hoffman (another failed shortstop project). If the Friars let Guerra walk, it could come back to bite them in a significant way.
His stuff is major league-good, with a lively fastball that flirts with 100 mph. He has pitched five scoreless outings thus far in Spring Training, with five strikeouts and one walk.
This means the Friars have six legitimate, big league-caliber arms for two spots, one of them being a spot for Guerra if the Padres are serious about not losing him to a rival.
In this case, it seems that a reshuffling of the deck is imminent, be it by trade or a surprising cut or unforeseen injury. Something will have to give for one of several quality options to make the team. There will be a few big-league arms either down in El Paso or on the trading block.
General manager A.J. Preller is never afraid to swing a deal between the start of Spring Training and Opening Day. He pulled the trigger to acquire All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel on April 5, 2015, mere hours before Opening Day.
The Friars have needs elsewhere on the team and can afford to pluck from their full inventory of relievers to include in a trade.
It looks like there are too many cooks in the kitchen with this stable bullpen staff, which is a great problem to have but would be unfortunate to let solid arms walk for little or nothing in return.
San Diego’s front office should pay close attention to the developing bullpen situation and see if there is a possible deal to be made to upgrade the team elsewhere.