The Padres are in desperate need of lefty bats and outfielders. Joey Gallo is both of those things. Is it finally time to marry the Padres and Gallo?
It feels like Joey Gallo is somehow, someway, at some time, destined to be a Padre. He and Padres president of baseball operations and general manager A.J. Preller go way back. The six-foot-five outfielder was drafted by Preller and the Texas Rangers in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft. Preller worked his way through the organization, eventually becoming assistant general manager until leaving for the job in San Diego during the 2014 season. They crossed paths for several years.
It wouldn’t be the first, second, or third time Preller gave someone from his Texas days a look in San Diego.
This is certainly the 100th article written about a possible Gallo and Padres marriage over the years. This year, it seems as pertinent as ever.
Gallo is a polarizing figure in baseball. He is the perfect poster child for what some believe is wrong with baseball today. He is the personification of “all-or-nothing” at the plate. Some call him a “true outcome merchant.” That meaning, the majority of his at bats end either in a home run, walk, or strikeout.
That’s mostly true. Last season, 63.6% of his plate appearances ended in one of those three outcomes. For comparison, Manny Machado turned in a 31.4% “true outcome rate,” less than half of Gallo’s.
What is appealing about Gallo is his light-tower power coupled with his ability to work walks. In 2022, his barrel rate was in the 98th percentile, while his walk rate reached 95th.
His strikeout rate plunged to the dreaded 1st percentile. Those rates stayed relatively the same in 2023, with fewer plate appearances with the Twins.
His power cannot be refuted. He has 191 home runs since the start of 2017, 14th-most in Major League Baseball. He smacked 21 last season in Minnesota. Indeed, he is one of the most true to the true outcomes in baseball.
He is now 30 years old, and the Twins were his fourth team in three seasons. His skillset is limited and is not a fit for everyone.
However, at this point, the Padres cannot afford to be picky. They need viable bats in a very shallow lineup. Bringing in a left-handed power hitter who can play left field and be a threat to hit 20-30 homers is exactly the medicine the doctor would prescribe the Padres.
He is far from a perfect player. He probably isn’t the everyday left fielder for a World Series-contending team. However, the Padres cannot bank on A-ball prospects or Spring Training non-roster invitees to grab hold of the jobs available and steer this team to the postseason. Gallo is a better option, at least early on in 2024.
On top of his raw power, Gallo is actually a serviceable defensive outfielder. He even has two Gold Gloves to his name, winning them in 2020 and 2021. His arm strength earned him a place in the 90th percentile in 2022.
Plus, if the outfield gets sorted out another way, he’s a viable option for designated hitter as well.
At the very least, he can be a bridge between the gaping holes in the outfield now and whenever prospects like Jakob Marsee or Jackson Merrill are fit to be big leaguers. Perhaps that comes later in 2024.
It’s bargain-hunting time for Preller and the Padres. FanGraphs projects Gallo to get a one-year deal worth around $8 million. If the Padres can snag him for a little less, that would be ideal. Either way, the Padres simply cannot field the outfield they have projected right now on Opening Day and expect to be remotely competitive this season.
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.