San Diego Padres fans have recently become enamored with Christian Yelich. And rightfully so.
He is a young, polished hitter with tremendous upside and is signed for five more years at a bargain basement price.
Yelich could be attained from the Marlins, but it would require a mixture of prospects from the Padres and possibly a bad contract from the Marlins. Miami has Martin Prado and Wei-Yin Chen signed for multiple years at an over-inflated price. The Padres have a rock-bottom payroll and could take on bad money, but it remains to be seen if the two sides can hammer out a deal. The Marlins aren’t even sure if they want to deal the outfielder, so all this speculation could be for nothing.
Yelich could very well improve the Padres now and in the future, but isn’t there already a player with that type of capability on the Padres’ roster presently?
Franchy Cordero is a converted infielder. A shortstop, to be more specific. When he was signed out of the D.R. in 2012, he was looked upon as a left-handed-hitting shortstop with a plus bat. The bat is still there, but Cordero grew physically and playing the infield was no longer easy for him. He had range and athleticism, but lacked the soft hands an infielder requires. He was shifted into the outfield in 2015, and has taken off ever since.
The talented ball player caught up with Nick Lee from East Village Times, earlier in the year. He spoke about some of his goals and was a very impressive young man to talk to. He clearly has ambitions in the game and is very open about his deficiencies. With that kind of self-realization, he will surely do what it takes to make the proper adjustments.
Franchy Cordero is not Christian Yelich. They are different players. But at the same time, Cordero provides many positive traits that Yelich is known for. They both have above average speed, plus defensive ability, a left-handed stroke, and surprising pop. Cordero is 23, while Yelich is 26. Now, can Cordero grow to be a valuable player like Yelich? That remains to be seen. However, he has shown the ability and only needs the playing time in order to do that.
Christian Yelich was promoted from the Marlins from Double-A in 2013 at the age of 21. He hit .288 in 240 at bats and amassed a 1.4 WAR in that time. At an early age he showed great plate discipline, something that Cordero lacks presently. Franchy strikes out way too much (44 K’s in 92 MLB at bats) at the moment and that could be his eventual downfall. But in this day and age of baseball, strikeouts are acceptable as long as production comes with it. He has the ability to be more than an average run producer for the Padres so he will be given an opportunity to showcase his skills against major league pitching.
Currently, the Padres have Jose Pirela penciled in to start the 2018 season in left field. Manuel Margot is locked in center and Hunter Renfroe will surely be given every opportunity to play everyday and grow as a player. With a mostly right-handed lineup, Cordero could get ample playing time each week against right-handed pitchers. He could sub in for any of the three starters and the team would not miss a beat.
With minor league options left, Cordero is not a lock to make the team out of the spring. The Padres will surely want him to get plenty of at bats. That is a big factor for him moving forward. If that means playing everyday in Triple-A, then they will do it. The young Dominican is very capable of breaking out this spring though, and could force his way into the Padres’ lineup in 2018. Coming fresh off an impressive Dominican Winter League campaign where he won MVP of the league and Rookie of The Year, DO NOT count him out. Cordero put up a batting line of .322/.394/.497 in 183 at bats. He is poised to break out.
The Padres will probably still pursue Christian Yelich in some regard, especially if the Marlins officially put him on the trade block. The team can and will negotiate, but you can be sure they will not overpay, as they potentially have a Yelich-type player on the roster already in Franchy Cordero. A.J. Preller has many options. We will see what direction the young G.M. chooses to go.