Is Luis Campusano the catcher of the future for Padres?

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

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Is rookie catcher Luis Campusano the catcher of the future for the San Diego Padres, or will he be traded soon? 

The 2022 season is in jeopardy, but you get a sense that the Padres will eventually play ball.

A.J. Preller and his staff are poised to make a few moves once transactions begin again. There is no doubt that the Padres will be active as there are several key free agent hitters who have yet to find a home. The Padres’ lineup needs adjusting as the DH will be in play in the N.L. (or at least that is what is being reported), and the team currently has Jurickson Profar penciled in as the starting left fielder. Preller and the Padres will explore improving the offense.

Another possible move the Padres may look into this spring is upgrading the catcher position. Austin Nola‘s Padre career has been full of injuries, and at the age of 32, there is not much upside to the right-handed hitter. Nola may be best served to San Diego as a spot-starter who could potentially play some first base against left-handed pitchers.

Luis Campusano is lurking and could be ready for major league service time consistently this coming season. Campusano is very young, but the 23-year-old is showing more maturity as he continues to play at the minor league level. At this point, the right-handed hitter looks to be the catcher of the future for the Padres. Doesn’t he?

Photo: Jorge Salgado

The native of Georgia owns a career .840 OPS in the minor league in over 1,100 at-bats. His .301 batting average over the last four minor league seasons is easily one of the best for Padres’ minor leaguers during that time period. There is no doubt that Campusano will produce with the bat in the major leagues.

Luis Campusano is a 23-year-old backstop with amazing offensive upside. If you are a Padres fan- it is safe to purchase a Campusano jersey, right?

Well. Not so fast.

The biggest hole on the roster for the San Diego Padres currently is first baseman Eric Hosmer. The team is livid with the production received from Hosmer in his four years with the team. The left-handed hitter produced a total WAR of 2.7 and made $84 million in that time. They are willing to do anything to get out of the remaining four years, and $60 million owed Hosmer through the 2025 season. It needs to be done.

Early indication is that the Padres are attempting to package a prospect or two with Hosmer in an attempt for their potential trade partner to consume most or all of the remaining salary owed the first baseman. Luis Campusano’s name has surfaced in this discussion, and rightfully so as catching is at a premium around the league. The Padres will need to part with a talented player if they wish for another team to take on Eric Hosmer and his salary for the next four years.

If you are the Padres, it is self-evaluation time.

Do the Padres believe in Campusano? Do they feel the defensive question marks and slight character issues are something to be concerned about? There are hundreds and hundreds of stories of talented players that never lived up to their potential. The game of baseball is difficult, and often it is impossible to predict who has tough enough skin to produce consistently. Prospects are just that until they produce at the major league level.

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Luis Campusano was arrested in October of 2020 as he was pulled over while driving with over two ounces of marijuana on him. The charges were later dropped, and possessing weed is not the biggest red flag, but you can be sure the Padres were not pleased that his name was in the national media for this action. Then there are indications from some of the veteran pitchers that they did not like throwing to Campusano when he was in the big leagues. Campusano started 12 games for the Padres over the last two seasons. You can chalk up his defensive deficiencies to youth and inexperience, can’t you?

The Padres will need to determine Campusano’s true value and decide if losing him is worth the financial freedom they crave. With so many holes in the lineup, you get a sense that the Padres will need to chop payroll somewhere. Packaging a big named prospect with Hosmer seems to be the most likely scenario. Luis Campusano seemingly has a very bright future in the league. Will that be with the Padres? That is the real question.

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