Both men are 26 years old and have accomplished all they can at the minor league level. For both players, it is now or never to further their advancement in the game of baseball. A season like 2018 can help mold their future and determine whether they are platoon-type major league players or worthy of a start each and every day.
Spangenberg and Villanueva compliment each other very well in a platoon. One of them is a left-handed hitter, and the other one is a right-handed hitter. Spangenberg brings a speed element to his game, while Villanueva has displayed very good power throughout his professional career. Each looked really productive at times in 2017 at the major league level.
Having this platoon to begin 2018 would be ideal, but the team is financially committed to Chase Headley, and quite frankly, the Padres need his ability to get on base. Headley is not impressive with the bat in terms of offensive power, but he is capable of getting on base at a decent rate. His .352 on base percentage from last year would have easily been the best on the Padres, and his career .344 percentage is exactly what the Padres are looking for presently. Andy Green and his staff are enforcing the attitude of getting on base more. Headley might not impress you with his power, but you cannot argue with the hard stats.
At $13 million for the 2018 season, Headley is adequately paid. Some complain, but he is not a burden to this roster presently.
The issue with Headley is that he could potentially take at bats away from younger players in a season which should be all about evaluation and growth. Villanueva, and more so, Spangenberg, need at least 300 at bats a piece against major league pitching. The Padres will only be able to adequately determine their fate with these vital at bats at the highest level. Each must be challenged. Minor league at bats would be meaningless for both men at this point.
A.J. Preller and his staff are certainly happy with Bryan Mitchell. They took on Headley’s salary with the intention of possibly flipping him. Immediately after he was acquired from the Yankees, Preller indicated that he might move on from the third baseman as he was exploring trade options. That never happened, and here we are.
The Padres could have to wait for the free agent market to clear up before they can get any value for Headley. They might also have to pay some of his salary, depending on what kind of return they covet for the veteran infielder. Here are some teams to keep an eye on as Preller and company look for possible suitors for Chase Headley:
There is a lot of youth on the Braves, but nobody is presently situated at third base just yet. Johan Camargo is penciled in at the moment. The young switch hitter lacks real power from the third base position and could be supplanted by a veteran rather quickly. Headley would help solidify the Braves in the middle of their lineup, but the Padres would probably have to pay the majority of Headley’s contract in order to move him to Atlanta. This does not seem like a likely choice, but they are a team worth keeping an eye on.
St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Carpenter has the ability to play first and third base. So does Chase Headley. The Cardinals value on base percentage and also tend to enjoy playing veterans when push comes to shove. Headley could make sense for St. Louis once the free agent drama ends. The Cardinals are dark horse candidates for both Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. If both free agents sign elsewhere and the majority of the free agent pool is in camp, the Cardinals may have interest in Headley. The Padres may not have to pay much of anything on a deal to St. Louis, as they are built to compete now and Headley could be a piece to the puzzle.
Manny Machado wants to play shortstop on the eve of his free agent year. He knows that he will get top dollar if he is able to play the position. With his move to short, the Orioles have a need for a third baseman. The Orioles are losing a lot of talent this coming season as Adam Jones will also be due for free agency after the season. Perhaps the team wants to collect some talent and attempt one more run at an AL Wild Card or Eastern Division title. The Orioles just gave Andrew Cashner $16 million for two years of service time. They obviously don’t care about money.
Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Duffy and Ryan Schimpf are penciled in at third to take over for the departed Evan Longoria. Duffy could easily move to second if the Rays covet Headley, but it would be a hard sell for a team that is rebuilding. Headley could also play first base, which might be helpful for the Rays, who have Brad Miller as the starter at the moment. The Padres would have to pay some salary to the Rays, or Preller could get creative and package some prospects with Headley for a starting pitcher. Jake Odorizzi anyone?
Kansas City Royals
The Royals have a need at both first base and third base. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer‘s future will help determine in which direction the Royals go. Headley is only signed for one year, so he gives a team an opportunity to get value now with little commitment. The Padres would not require anything of importance if the Royals ate his salary. If Kansas City losses out on Hosmer and Moustakas, they might need to bring in some veteran names to fill the void. Preller is watching.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have Matt Davidson at third base currently, but the right-handed hitter put up a .260 OBP last year. He is young and produced 26 dingers last season, so he will be given another shot in 2018. Having a left-handed batter to compliment Davidson might be intriguing for the White Sox. Headley could also backup Jose Abreu at first if needed. The White Sox are not looking to add salary, so the Padres would have to get creative to get a deal done.
All these teams could have interest in Headley now, and there could also be a few more out there in time. Then there is the cruel reality that the San Diego Padres will have a hard time moving the aged third baseman in a market that has slowed down dramatically. A.J. Preller leaves no stone unturned though. He will do his due diligence and homework to help build the best team for the 2018 season. Chase Headley may be a part of it, or he may not.
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.