The San Diego Padres presently have a crowded outfield and there is no easy answer for playing time moving forward.
Currently the Padres have seven players that are considered major league outfielders on their 40-man roster. Alex Dickerson is also listed on the 40-man, but he is on the 60-day DL and will not return anytime soon. Jose Pirela can also play the outfield and has been used there recently, but he seems to have settled as the every day second baseman for the team.
Having depth is great. The Padres certainly have that in the outfield. However, the Padres need to make a move. All these men deserve constant playing time and the team cannot juggle them around properly to keep everyone content. Players will either be sent down or DFA’d and not everyone will be satisfied with the choice.
The Padres have had numerous injuries this season which has delayed a decision. Wil Myers, Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe have all spent time on the DL this year and that has been a godsend of sorts for the team. It has allowed all these men to remain on the Padres roster. But with Myers and Cordero mending, the Padres will need to make a move or two.
Here is a look at the seven players battling it out for five likely spots on the 25-man roster.
He should be given every opportunity to play everyday for the team. The right handed hitter is capable of playing first, but Eric Hosmer barely requires rest so the bulk of Myers’ at bats will have to come while he is penciled in as an outfielder. Injuries have derailed the start of his 2018 season as Myers has battled an elbow injury and an oblique injury. The team is financially obligated to give Myers every chance to play. He is also one of the best offensive weapons for the team (when he is healthy) so he will play when he can.
He is presently shelved with a right forearm strain, but also should play most everyday for this team. The left-handed hitting Cordero hits the ball hard and was beginning to show improved plate discipline before he went down with the injury in late May. Franchy is a decent defender, though he does get awkward jumps on fly balls from time to time. The young Dominican outfielder should be in the line up on most days, even against left-handed pitchers. He has shown the ability to handle them in the past.
Once viewed as the team best overall player, Margot has taken a bit of a hit in terms of value, early this season. He has played better over the past few weeks, but has yet to be reinstated to his leadoff position by Andy Green. The fleet-footed outfielder will surely be given every opportunity to play moving forward. The early struggles are concerning, but he was plucked in the ribs early in the year which might have messed with his swing mechanics.
The emergence of Franmil Reyes in the past few weeks has only further complicated the situation in the outfield. Not that the Padres are complaining, as the big Dominican has made huge adjustments early in his playing career which are very impressive to see. He clearly has an idea at the plate and should be given plenty of playing time moving forward. Unfortunately for him, the numbers crunch might eventually lead to another trip to El Paso, but the Padres are certainly pleased with his growth and overall potential. He has a future with this team.
The former first round pick is swinging a good bat right now and should be given playing time. The team needs to figure out what to do with Renfroe moving forward. If they keep him or shop him- he needs at bats. His value is low right now, but at the age of 26, he could still be attractive for a team looking for power and team control over a young slugger. The Padres are probably exploring options on trades and Renfroe’s name could be included in talks. But for now, he needs constant at bats.
Coming out of almost nowhere to earn relevancy is this speedy center fielder. He was thrust into a starting role after Margot went down and capitalized on it. He has cooled down after his hot start, but he still has improved his plate discipline. There were reports the Mariners asked about Jankowski earlier this season, but nothing happened. Jankowski is a plus defender with speed. He will not drive the ball out of the park, but he does have leadoff type skills. The team might explore dealing Jankowski, but they may view him as an insurance policy for Margot.
A lot of fans ask how is Matt Szczur still on this roster? Well, he can play all three outfield positions and excels at working the count and earning walks. That is something the Padres preach. His days could be numbered with the return of Myers and Cordero though. The team can still send down players and would not have to DFA Szczur to make a move, but his 40-man roster spot is valuable to the young Padres. Szczur is a quality teammate and a great person, but he has a long road to stay in San Diego through the end of the 2018 season.
Something has to give with this group. You have to figure that the Padres will make a move to trade one or more of the before mentioned outfielders very soon. There is just too much talent in this group for practically any of them to spend time on a major league bench. A.J. Preller and his regime are at a point right now where they are considering buying instead of selling. The rest of the NL West has fallen apart and the Padres have the mindset they could compete this year. That could be dangerous for a team that is on a rebuild.
In the end, an outfield probably has to be moved to make room. Myers and his contract are seemingly safe. Margot, Cordero and their potential also seems like a safe bet to remain in San Diego. Franmil isn’t going anywhere, so that leaves Jankowski, Renfroe and Szczur. A trade is not a 100 percent certainty as the team could elect to send two of these young men with options down to El Paso. Not ideal for building trade value, but the Padres do not have to make a trade and they have shown they will not pull off a deal just to do it. They preach of getting maximum value for players in deals.