The Padres may also look to potential trades in order to solve their left-field problem.
There are three realistic potential trade targets that may be undervalued which include Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Andrew Benintendi, but a player that might be completely under the radar for most fans is Milwaukee Brewer Tyrone Taylor.
Taylor has good speed and a 2021 max exit velocity in the 75th percentile. Taylor is nearly 28 but is still a bit of a rookie. He only has just over one year of service time but would be an amazing fit in an inconsistent Padres outfield, with Wil Myers perhaps leaving for free agency next year. Taylor is somewhat reminiscent of another overlooked Milwaukee Brewer outfielder, Trent Grisham, who patrols center field for the Padres.
He is a cheap solution with possibilities anywhere from a starting left fielder, to a fourth outfielder, to a bench bat. Seemingly undervalued by Milwaukee, Taylor has been up and down in their farm system and should be pretty easy to pry away from the Brewers. A prospect package including Eguy Rosario and Efrain Contreras will most likely be enough to bring Taylor to Petco Park.
Taylor is a talented prospect, but some might want to bring in a more short-term veteran presence to left field. Former Boston Red Sox star Andrew Benintendi is in his final year with Kansas City and will become a free agent in 2023. He is a relatively average offensive player with a plus glove, the only issue being the price tag. He is owed just under $10 million for 2022, but San Diego could easily get him as the rebuilding Kansas City Royals might be trying to shed some payroll.
This trade is also not a flashy choice and might possibly not work out long term if Benintendi elects to leave next year, but the good thing is his price and trade value is relatively low. Trading away a backup catcher and a 17-year-old is a trade package that won’t completely deplete the Padres already diminished farm system. This deal would be especially beneficial if it brings a competent starting left fielder to San Diego for 2022.
The final trade proposal to solve the left-field/corner outfield conundrum would be a trade for Blue Jays star Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Unlike Benintendi, Gurriel is not a short-term solution and would bring some stability to the Petco Park outfield grass. Gurriel is similarly owed just under $10 million like Benintendi, but that money is split between 2022 and 2023. He is also arbitration-eligible for 2024 and won’t become a free agent until 2025.
Although he is the potential starting left fielder, Gurriel also has experience playing second base and shortstop. Barring any injury to the middle infield, he should remain in left field during 2022. Gurriel is highly-touted by the Toronto front office and, therefore, will take a more valuable trade package to pry him away from a very up-and-coming Blue Jays roster who hope to compete for the Commissioner’s Trophy next year.
With a starting rotation of Ryu, Berrios, Gausman, and Manoah, the Blue Jays are a fifth starter away from success. They are in need of a young, controllable fifth starter in the rotation, and the perfect player for them would be Ryan Weathers. The left-handed pitcher will be coming back from a rough rookie year but is a high draft pick who won’t be a free agent until 2028. The southpaw is a great piece to build a prospect package around for Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
It will take more than just Ryan Weathers to get Gurriel, however. He could be a centerpiece of a trade, but it would require some other prospects and maybe a bullpen arm to get a deal done.
The majority of Gurriel’s hitting statistics in 2021 were over the 50th percentile. His only issues were a low walk rate and high chase rate. These issues could possibly be improved upon by Padres hitting coach Michael Brdar in 2022. Gurriel is a great solution in the outfield for both now and the future for the Padres. It would realistically only require a young talented controllable starter to obtain him. Other trade possibilities include Adrian Morejon and Chris Paddack. However, injuries in 2021 set both of them back.
No matter how the Padres try to solve the left-field problem, 2022 will be a defining year for A.J. Preller and his staff as the San Diego Padres attempt to finish over .500 in a 162 game season for the first time since 2010.