The San Diego Padres have an issue currently as their outfield is crowded with talent and there are only three positions to play each day.
With the addition of Eric Hosmer in the winter, the team pushed Wil Myers to a corner spot in the outfield which made an already crowded position complicated. The team has options, but it will be difficult to give plenty of playing time to each young player.
Myers and Manuel Margot came into the season as players who were guaranteed starting time. Myers continues to play when healthy, but in recent days, Margot has been used in a platoon situation with Franchy Cordero in center. Cordero was hurt in the spring and got a slow start on the season, but his hit tool is too enticing to sit on the bench every day.
There are currently five outfielders that deserve playing time. Thankfully, for the team’s sake, there have been injuries among these men where all five have not been on the 25-man roster at the same time. Currently, Hunter Renfroe is shelved with an elbow injury, but he is expected back soon and could really complicate things in San Diego.
Here is a look at the five men:
There is no doubt that he will play every day. His elbow issue seems to be in the rear view mirror. Myers has struggled a bit with the bat so far but, as the season progresses, he should put up decent numbers in the middle of the Padres’ lineup. Having Myers and Hosmer in the middle of the order goes a long way towards credibility for this young team. Expect Myers to play right on most nights for the Padres throughout the rest of the 2018 season. The team is invested in him and he will play.
Margot was plunked in the ribs in by a 95 mph fastball a few weeks back and spent the night in the hospital for observation. Even before the beaning in Colorado, Margot had been struggling with the bat. His swing is a little long at the moment as it seems he is trying to do too much at the plate. Margot has unbelievable skills across the board and should be a starter for the team each and every day. He is too young to be consistent, so the Padres will just have to take the good with the bad. Expect Margot to get the majority of the playing time in center moving forward.
Here is where it starts to get complicated. Jose Pirela has been the most consistent hitter since he was called up last season. He deserves to play every day, and really has to play every day. The veteran is capable of falling apart, but the Padres need to ride him while he is hot. There is always the chance that he is just a late bloomer. Pirela was never given a consistent look at the major league level and he is running with it now. The right-handed hitter is capable of playing second base and that looks to be where he will be utilized moving forward on most nights. Andy Green loves Carlos Asuaje and there is some hesitancy to give Pirela the second base job totally outright, but that might be the only way to get an adequate look at some talented outfielders that need at-bats.
This young Dominican has some issues with the strikeout, but his bat is intriguing. He consistently hits the ball harder than anyone on the team and Statcast proves that with his exit velocity numbers. Cordero can flat-out blister the baseball as he already has two 450-plus homers on the year. The rookie has to play. He has proven all he needs to at the minor league level and is obviously ready for consistent at bats with the Padres. He handles left-handed pitcher fairly well and is not a platoon-type player. The Padres need to get him at-bats, and that looks to be in left field at the moment. Cordero might strike out 175 times a year, but if he hits 30 homers and steals 30 bases, the Padres will be content with his swings and misses.
It appears more and more that Renfroe is the odd man out. There is just not enough playing time to go around. He is right-handed, and the team is overloaded with right-handed bats. Cordero gets the nod as he is a lefty, can play center, and is younger. Renfroe was not drafted by the Padres’ current regime and could be deemed expendable by A.J. Preller. We already know that many teams asked about him when the Padres sign Hosmer last winter. The Padres have to know his value is low right now and may be hesitant to deal the slugger, but there will surely be discussions.
It is very difficult to know what the Padres will do from here on out. There are many options for the team when it comes to constructing a starting outfield each and every day. Andy Green will likely play it by ear when putting his lineup card together each game. Getting playing time for this group will be tough, but the Padres need to really make quality assessments on all these guys moving forward. When Hunter Renfroe is activated, this situation could get very interesting.