In this second of four pieces, Alex gives us his thoughts on improving the 2020 San Diego Padres roster. The addition of a true ace would be huge, and the addition of two veteran All-Star outfielders could put the Padres over the edge.
If I was AJ Preller, I’m taking a good hard look at my roster position by position and see where I need to improve. I want to keep in mind the salary cap, as well as the prospects I have arriving in the next year or two. I want to keep my salary as low as possible in hopes that in a few years when we need to extend some of the top talent, the salary can reach higher numbers.
The first place I’m looking to improve is starting pitching.
There is a solid young core on this team, but I want to add one proven and accomplished pitcher to lead the group. I see Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg alone will take all of my cap space, so I’m out on them. For me, it comes down to two former teammates, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Wheeler doesn’t have the numbers Syndergaard has, but his velocity and slider movement is elite. Wheeler, at times, relies too much on his fastball and can get burned by it.
The new pitching coach Larry Rothschild comes from the Yankees that threw sliders at much higher rates than the Mets. Potentially, he can be made elite for half the cost of Cole or Strasburg. However, for this exercise, we’re going to trade for Syndergaard to keep payroll down. The Mets reportedly want MLB ready players, so we’re going to trade Luis Urias, Joey Lucchesi, Luis Torrens, and Ian Kinsler. The Mets take on Kinsler’s full contract. All the other players in the deal are on pre-arbitration deals, so this shouldn’t be an issue. The Mets lose a top pitcher but gain three good players with many years of control. l also wouldn’t hesitate to add in a lower level prospect like a Blake Hunt or even Buddy Reed just to sweeten the deal. If the Mets got too greedy, I’d have no problem sticking it to them and signing Wheeler.
Looking to bolster the outfield, I’d make a move for Starling Marte. He has two affordable years and could solidify center field until Taylor Trammell is ready to take over. I’d start with a Ryan Weathers and Manuel Margot trade pitch. That should be more than enough to land Marte and add a quality player to the Padre outfield.
The other outfielder I want to acquire needs to be a lefty and have multiple years of control. This is a guy we want to acquire and potentially extend before they become a free agent. There are several possibilities, but the one I like the most is Andrew Benintendi. The Red Sox are looking to cut payroll and acquire prospects. This is where it gets tricky because I’m only trying to do one of those two, but I’m willing to overpay a bit in prospects to not have to take on money. A package of Adrian Morejon, Hudson Potts, Ronald Bolaños, and Gabriel Arias should get the Red Sox attention. These prospects would undoubtedly turn around the Red Sox farm system.
The last trade I’d make is with the Rangers. The Rangers are not near contention and theoretically can take on Myers’ contract. This trade is just a salary dump disguised as a trade. I’d give Myers, Eric Lauer, Josh Naylor, Edward Oliveras, and Esteury Ruiz in exchange for Nomar Mazara. To get the deal done, I’d even throw in $10 million spread out over the three years. Hopefully, the Rangers would see the potential in the young players and be willing to pay the price for some good players. AJ Preller was reportedly seeking to trade for Mazara last year; maybe he thinks he knows how to turn him around. If he can, it makes the trade that much better, but if not, the main thing is getting Myers contract off the books to free up funds.
I’m also going to fill a need in the bullpen by signing Drew Pomeranz. The Padres currently have only two left-handed relievers in Matt Strahm and Jose Castillo. A third quality left-hander should be enough to bolster the bullpen, and Pomeranz would do that without breaking the bank.
I added $10 million for Syndergaard, $11.5 million for Marte, $5 million for Benintendi, around $4 million for Pomeranz, $5 million on Mazara, but got rid of Kinsler’s $4 million and $16.7 million of Myers contract. Starting with $120 million, that’s a new total of around $135 million, well within expectations this season. Also, even if the Syndergaard trade didn’t work, Wheeler only adds another $10 million. That should also be within reason this season, but it limits what we could add at the deadline.
I do still have some holes in the lineup, mainly in right field, second base and catcher. Renfroe gets one more shot at claiming a starting role. Franchy Cordero is also an option if he can stay healthy. Greg Garcia is holding down second base until Owen Miller is given his shot. If Miller doesn’t work out, then Xavier Edwards takes over in 2021. Ty France is also in the mix. Catcher remains the same, Hedges and Mejia will continue to split starts in the hopes that Mejia’s defense improves enough to take most of the starts. Otherwise, the lineup should have enough firepower to absorb Hedges’ lack of offense. If neither work out, Luis Campusano is due to arrive in 2021 or 2022.
If the team does find itself with a real shot to make the playoffs come the all-star break, we would still have plenty of capital to address whichever position is needed most.
Below is the basic 26 man roster. I did find that Nick Martini is the odd man out. Unfortunately, we have so many outfielders he may not have a spot next season. Hopefully, he could fit into one of the other deals or possibly traded for international pool money.
SS Tatis Jr
The main points I wanted to accomplish seem very reasonable to do. Keeping salary in check while still keeping top-end prospects should be possible. By using trades headlining Luis Urias, Adrian Morejon, Joey Lucchesi, and Eric Lauer, top talent should still be easily acquired.
If other players are used in deals, there has to be an opposite move. For example, if Luis Urias is indeed traded, we should keep Xavier Edwards in the system and have a short term solution like Greg Garcia. If Edwards is also traded, we should find a long term solution via trade or free agency. This is why Marte is perfect until Trammell takes over, and why we need to trade for a long term player in left field.
And by keeping the next wave of top prospects, we can expect to have more years of winning than your average smaller market team. Even though we have practically decimated the number of prospects coming up in the next two years, there are already talented players expected to come up in the system to replenish the team for the long term.
If I said it once, I’ll say it again, 2020 is the most critical offseason in Padres’ history. From the new manager to going back to brown, and all the expected trades, this offseason will be remembered as the make or break year for the San Diego Padres.