Jake Cronenworth should remain at keystone for Padres

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The San Diego Padres are a better team, with Jake Cronenworth at the keystone position.

A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres will be active this winter in upgrades for the team.

In some scenarios, the Padres could potentially move Jake Cronenworth to first base for the 2023 season. In fact, the way the current roster is constructed, Cronenworth would be the Padres starting first baseman on opening day.

That is a scary thought.

Things should change this offseason as the Padres revamp the roster in a quest for a World Series title. There are plenty of players out there who San Diego could sign in the coming weeks. A. J. Preller, and his staff is relentless when it comes to doing their homework. The Padres will make additions.

The team may be tempted to add slowly this winter and build during the season as the holes on the team become more apparent. There will be plenty of players made available this coming trade season as teams fall out of contention. So perhaps they do not add a few veteran first basemen this winter.

Jose Abreu was reported to be the team’s number-one target and signed with the Houston Astros. Josh Bell and Brandon Drury are still out there, and so is Wil Myers. The Padres may want to reunite with one of their ex-players.

As of now, Jake Cronenwroth is the team’s starting first baseman, and that is something that should be addressed.

Padres Jake Cronenworth
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Defensively, the right-handed thrower can handle the position. However, Cronenworth does not bring a big bat to the plate which you traditionally want to see from a first baseman. Cronenworth is a career .256 hitter with an OPS of .770 in a little over 1,300 at-bats. His slugging percentage dipped to .390 this season as the left-handed hitter led the league in long fly ball outs. Or at least it felt that way.

His offensive production is above average as a second baseman, and his two MLB All-Star nominations dictate that. Putting him at first base would only give the Padres yet another subpar offensive player in a position where they need production. Eric Hosmer killed the Padres for years at first base as he brought little to the plate offensively and was a butcher on the field with his glove.

Cronenworth would bring a better glove to the field than Hosmer, but it saddens me to report that his career numbers are worse in slugging and batting average. Cronenworth barely owns a better OPS and on-base percentage than Hosmer as well. Putting the Padres’ 28-year-old infielder at first base would not be beneficial for the overall lineup.

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Factor in that Cronenworth has excellent range at second base. That is something that would be lost if he were forced to play first base for the season. Jake Cronenworth is athletic enough to play any of the infield positions, including shortstop. Putting him at first base is a waste of his skill set.

In recent days, the Padres have been linked to Xander Bogaerts, which is a stunning notion. With Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ha-Seong Kim on the roster, the addition of a quality veteran shortstop seems silly. Preller and the Padres think outside the box, and there are some who feel Tatis could ultimately end up in the outfield with Kim playing second base. That would push Cronenworth to first base or, at the very least, in a platoon with Kim at the keystone.

Who knows what the Padres’ upper management is thinking? But I will warn you again- they are capable of anything. Juan Soto and Josh Hader were acquired in the last few months, and neither seemed like a realistic option for the Padres before the 2022 season. Preller is out to shock the world. Prepare yourself.

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