The Padres are going to do some shopping prior to the spring baseball season.
In an attempt to dissect the team’s possible moves, we will move to our assessment of the current free agent outfield situation.
Presently, the team is stocked with many young outfielders and the position is not one of great need within the organization. Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Travis Jankowski, and Alex Dickerson provide the team with a solid group of outfielders who are ready for major league service time. The Padres also signed Rafael Ortega this winter, and he could see some action as the team’s fourth outfielder.
Jabari Blash looked to possibly get a shot at a roster spot, but he was released this past week as the team signed Trevor Cahill to a one-year deal. Blash was retained by the team off the 40-man roster, and will likely take a roster spot in El Paso to begin the upcoming season.
The Padres also have Nick Torres and Michael Gettys in the minors, and each player is starting to blossom. Gettys is a pure athlete with unreal tools. He hasn’t been able to fully put it all together yet, but he made it to Lake Elsinore in 2016 and was performing well there. A 2017 showing at Petco is unrealistic for this 21-year-old, but he could be knocking on the door shortly. Torres made it to El Paso and a September call up could be in his future, or he could even make an appearance before then if an injury happens.
The Padres aren’t actively looking for an outfielder, but if the value is there, they will take a look.
Dustin Ackley, Brandon Moss, Chris Coghlan, and Logan Morrison were listed in the infield section of this list, but each are capable of playing the outfield too. As far as what the Padres are looking for presently, it is all about signing undervalued players and turning them into prospects later after they boost their value.
Here are the best options in the outfield area for the Padres. Some may fit for the team, while others are certainly ending their careers and will have a hard time finding employment in 2017 at the major league level.
This former Friar, (yes, he did play for the Padres) is a free agent and an interesting choice for a team looking or outfield help. In 2014, Francoeur received 24 at bats with the Padres, hitting .083 in 10 games. He spent most of the year in El Paso, and is known for being a great teammate. He spent this past season in Atlanta and Miami where he recorded a batting line of .254/.297/.378 with seven homers and 34 RBI in 125 games and 307 at bats. He has a rocket arm and can still be serviceable, but his time as a starting outfielder is probably over. At 33, he will look for a spring invite somewhere.
He once looked to be a budding star, but after a few down years in Tampa Bay, he hits free agency with little to no demand on the open market. A change of scenery may help him grow as a player. However, he recorded a .200/.281/.351 slash line last year in 200 at bats in 65 games for the Rays, and that is not a good sign for his future production. At the age of 30, Jennings is not old by any means. He may be holding out for a starting gig, but he will likely have to fight his way back to the major leagues. Decent buy-low candidate here.
At the age of 35, Pagan had a career year last year in term of power. His 12 home runs were a career high for a season as he managed to stay mostly healthy the entire year. He played in 129 games and recorded 495 at bats with the Giants. Pagan’s batting line was .277/.331/.418 and it is a surprise he has not re-signed with the Giants. He has been a leader for the team in the clubhouse in recent years and you have to think he will be reunited there eventually. The Giants probably just do not want to pay top dollar for his services.
The 36-year-old veteran is nearing the end of the road. He is useful, as he can play third base, second base, and corner outfield. Raburn hit .220 last year in Colorado and played in 113 games. He was used by the Rockies as a pinch hitter often, and that is what he is at this point in his career. He can spot start for you at a couple of different positions, as well as provide a decent right-handed bat off the bench. If he wishes to play some more, he may have to earn his way back after signing a minor league deal.
The speedy outfielder is getting up there in age, and with that, his value is slowly decreasing. At one time, he was a top-notch leadoff hitter, but now at the age of 34, he looks more like a #9 hitter on an American League team. He played for Arizona and Baltimore last year, hitting .264 in 113 games and 375 at bats. Bourn stole 15 bases and played a lot of center field last season. He can still play the position, but the 11-year veteran is not someone you want to send out there everyday. He should find a job somewhere in the near future.
Of all the outfielders, Bourn, Pagan, and Jennings all make sense. They can all play center field and the Padres may elect to have Manuel Margot start the season in Triple-A to protect his service time. With that being said, the team might have a need for a backup center fielder or someone who can platoon with Travis Jankowski until May. That is a big if though, and the Padres already have Rafael Ortega in camp, who could help in that area. The Padres are not desperate for outfield help, but again, if a player that should be employed has trouble finding a team, they will definitely take a look at him.