How to Solve the Padres’ Outfield Logjam

Credit: Andy Hayt/Getty Images

Credit: AP Photo

There is no doubt that the San Diego Padres have a logjam in their current outfield situation. The Padres have several men who could play every day for the team, and there is no clear option. What will the team do to address this issue?

For the last three years, the Padres have been stockpiling minor league talent. Now that this talent is starting to reach the big club, the picture of this team’s future nucleus is getting clearer—especially regarding the middle infield and starting rotation.

Not so much for the outfield.

There are currently six outfielders (seven if you count Francisco Mejia) vying for three starting jobs:

Manuel Margot—A disappointment in his sophomore season, he regressed in just about every offensive category; most importantly for him, he went from .313 to .292 OBP, and from 17 to 11 stolen bases. Since his value is as a potential leadoff hitter, he must do better if he hopes to retain his status as an everyday ballplayer.

Franmil Reyes—After a slow start, the hulking right fielder came on strong, smashing 16 home runs in just 87 games and boasting a solid .280/.340/.498 slash. Not bad for a guy who went untouched in last year’s Rule 5 Draft, and is still only 23.

Hunter Renfroe—Call him Margot in reverse: whereas the speedy center fielder regressed, Renfroe took big steps forward in just about every offensive category: his batting average went from .231 to .248, his OBP from .284 to .302, and his slugging from .467 to .504. While Renfroe, 26, entered 2018 as the odd man out, his improvement made the Padres take another serious look at him.

Wil Myers—Once the face of the franchise, Myers, 27, started the season in right field, missed almost half the season due to injuries, then came back after the All-Star break and became the starting third baseman—that didn’t go well. While still talented, Myers has likely worn out his welcome. The only problem is, he is locked into a contract through 2022 through which he is owed $60 million.

Credit: USA Today Sports/Jake Roth

Franchy Cordero—Loaded with raw talent, Cordero, 24, hit some tape measure shots before going down to injury last summer. His walk and strikeout rates both improved from 2017—though the latter is still very high—and he was batting a respectable .261 before ending his season in a 4-for-28 skid, mostly due to injuries.

Travis Jankowski—In 117 games, the 27-year-old batted .259 with a .332 OBP and 24 stolen bases, while playing all three outfield spots very well. Jankowski is seen as a fourth outfielder, albeit a good one who can start for long stretches if needed.

So if you’re in A.J. Preller’s shoes, what do you do? Not only do you have a crowded outfield, but you’re also coming off a 66-96 season, and you’ve got a fan base and ownership group who are tired of losing (the Padres have not had a winning season since 2010).

Here is the way to go about it:

Trade Myers. While this would be Preller’s tacit admission that the December 2014 Trea Turner deal was a flop, it must be done. Myers has been a disappointment, and his complaints about having to do extra drills at third base this past summer (which he clearly needed) did not help. There are lots of teams that need a first baseman, which Myers can handle. And while San Diego will likely have to eat some of his salary, it would clear the Padres’ logjam and help both parties to move on.

Keep the quartet of Margot, Cordero, Renfroe, and Reyes. While Margot was a classic case of the “sophomore jinx,” he still has lots of talent. It would be a shame to trade him and then see him blossom with another team. Fans quickly forget that he only turned 24 this past September, when most guys his age are just going into Triple-A. He should be given every opportunity to play in 2019, in what will be his make-or-break season.

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Both Renfroe and Reyes have something San Diego has been lacking for some time: legitimate home run power. Assuming that their 2018 performances prove to be legitimate, I would have no problem if both of them started in the Padres’ outfield for many years to come.

That said, if another team inquired about one of them, then Preller should listen. But he should only be willing to part with Renfroe or Reyes as part of a package deal if the return is substantial (i.e., a frontline starting pitcher and/or a major league-ready third baseman).

Cordero showed definite improvement in harnessing his awesome skills last season. He can and should start fairly regularly, especially since he’s the only left-handed bat in the mix (not including Jankowski).

Using this quartet as a starting rotation in the outfield, all four will easily get 400-plus at-bats. Over the course of the season, manager Andy Green will see which of them take their game to the next level, and which don’t.

Bottom Line: These four men are the best bets the Padres have to produce a solid, All-Star-caliber outfield for years to come. So give them all playing time, and let their performances dictate which of them will eventually be the starting three.

As for Jankowski, the Padres can either keep him as a valuable bench piece, or they can trade him. He has value, and since he is not a long-term starting option, shipping him out could help fill needs elsewhere.

For these reasons, going this route would be the optimal way to go for all involved.

Now, if only they can find a suitor for Myers…

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Greg Hoadley
A native of Escondido, Greg is a free-lance writer who currently resides in Western Canada. He remains an avid Padres fan.

13 thoughts on “How to Solve the Padres’ Outfield Logjam

  1. related to whether or not Myers stays to have another go at 3rd base: why is nobody talking about bringing up Ty France? Didn’t he have an excellent season at AAA at 3rd base? Yet you never see him considered as a prospect. Why is that?

  2. An article that includes the players’ ages? Thank you.
    * I think you’re right on trading Myers, this was a bad trade and a horrible extension. But at $74mm over the next 4 seasons, who’s going to want him? Underachiever, bad attitude, injury prone, and overpaid. A toxic combo. This will require some ingenuity. Oddly this might be something Preller can do, whereas adding veteran talent is clearly beyond him. The key is that this needs to be done this off season, not during 2019. Any time he plays is developmental time stolen from better players.
    * Right again on Jankowski. He plays hard, plays within his game and plays up to his potential. But at 27, and with so many other OFs it’s time to move on.
    * The Yankees have this idea (and it’s not exclusive to them) that until a player gets 1500 ABs, or about 3 full time years, in the MLs you don’t really know what they are. This will be the make or break year for Margot and Renfroe.

    1. Myers has one more year at a reduced salary before the big numbers kick in. This could prove valuable to a team trying to stay under the luxury tax in 2019. If Myers played 1B and stayed healthy, he is capable of putting up very, above average numbers for a team that is playoff worthy.

      Cleveland has a few experienced starting rotation pieces that can help SD and can use Myers stick to remain competitive.

      1. Salary for luxury cap purposes is calculated by using the AAV (average annual value). So by acquiring Myers your salary cap hit is his AAV, not his actual salary for 2019. At 6 years and $83mm his AAV is roughly $13.8mm per year.

  3. 1. Disagree on Myers. He is untradeable. I think that it is vital for the team that Myers can handle 3b.
    2. I agree on the quartet of outfielders.
    3. I pretty much agree on Jankowski. Trade him for whatever.

    1. Any player is tradeable. Myers is overpriced, sure. But he’s not a clubhouse cancer like Kemp or Norris or totally useless like Melvin Upton, or a professional pariah like Olivera. They were all traded, Myers can be traded.

  4. Sell high on Renfroe, his value will likely not be higher than it is now. Margot should be given ample time in AAA … until he figures things out, and if he doesn’t then he stays in AAA.

  5. The only way you move Wil this offseason is if they can purge their commitment without taking on much of the salary owed from 20 to 22. Wil is still cheap in 2019 and they have little to lose and a lot to gain from him having a strong first half. This is why the Pads have to put Wil in the best position to succeed and that is LF.

    Hunter or Franmil should be in RF. An arguement could be made for either but not both. One would think the benefit of the doubt would go the Hunter but the people covering the Padres beat say the the team is really high on Framils ability to make adjustments and react to coaching. The only scenario that seems feasible to keep both is to have Franmil start in El Paso for the first half while they rebuild Wils value. Franmil comes back once Wil is moved at the deadline. Renfroe starts every day in RF for the Padres.

    Cordero should also start in EL Paso and if Manuel continues to struggle then he replaces Manuel. Othwise Manuel is the starting CF in 2019. Travis would be the 4th OF.

    Eventually I’m with ya that Wil gets moved

  6. Agreed. Time for Myers to go to an AL team where he can play 1B/DH. For me, the crap talking about Green an extra infield work showed his true colors as a bad attitude player. You’re getting paid massive money to play a game. Goodbye Wil!

  7. Nicely done. You’re going to get hate mail btw because you aren’t covering Travis Jankowski and his amazingness. Every writer on your staff seems to have a Janko addiction (as do many fans)- when truthfully, he’s the only current member of the group who probably can’t start or hang in there for 500 AB’s. Contrary to a few oddball articles from EVT, he did not have a great year, just a great year for a Padre. I also agree he’s a fourth outfielder but I would trade him too, he’ll actually get some return right now- something he won’t fetch in a year or two. Agreed on Myers, worst case, take on another bloated contract in his trade but in the form of a SP: there are a few out there. Myers has no business on the team, especially with this decent group which is developing and fighting for AB’s. But, it’s all speculation right? My speculation is that AJ is still clinging too hard to a few people and needs to move on. Like Myers and Janko, you have Spangy and possibly Margot taking up space on this roster… they won’t get better.

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