The San Diego Padres are already making moves this winter to improve their team. Contrary to what some fans believe the trades of Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit were wise transactions. The team needed to replenish their farm system and the haul the received in return surely helped do that.
Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje, Enyel De Los Santos and Logan Allen provide some instant relief to a once depleted Padres farm system. The team is obviously going through some changes and nobody on the entire roster seems safe from the rumor mill. The first base position is one that has yet to be determined at this time.
Returning starter Yonder Alonso had a productive but injury riddled year in 2015. He only managed to play 103 games last season after suffering a shoulder injury. Alonso was the most productive hitter when he was healthy, as he hit .281 last season with five home runs and 31 RBI’s and had an impressive .361 on base percentage. Alonso has been very productive when in the lineup but lacks power and quite frankly isn’t healthy all that often.
At the age of 28, the Padres are hardly going to give up on him. He was once essentially chosen over Anthony Rizzo as the clubs first baseman of the future. Alonso was acquired with Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger for Mat Latos. The Padres all ready had Rizzo at the time, but chose to keep the newly acquired Alonso and instead flipped Anthony Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs for Andrew Cashner. A trade that most Padres fans care to forget.
Alonso is productive but the power will probably just never develop and the Padres really need to stop insisting that he does drive the ball. He could be a perennial .300 hitter in the big leagues if they just let him spray the ball around the field, like the great Tony Gwynn used to do. Not to say Alonso is as fine a craftsman with the bat as Gwynn, but he does have a line drive stroke.
Playing first base at the Major League level comes with some expectations. One of them is the position requires a power hitter. That does not always have to be true, but the team must make up for the lack of power at other non traditional power positions. Hypothetically speaking if Alonso was on a team with Troy Tulowitzki and Mike Piazza he would not be required to drive the ball over the fence.
Alonso’s ideal hitting spot would be batting second because he does handle the bat really well. The problem with that is he is a burden on the base paths and you can’t have that clogging up the middle of the order. Yonder Alonso is a difficult player to place in your lineup. He doesn’t drive the ball enough to bat in the middle, but is too slow to bat in the top of the lineup. Alonso was thrown out stealing in five of his seven attempts last season.
So what is Alonso’s future with the Padres? A.J. Preller is already on the prowl and anything can really happen. Yonder has done well for the Padres, but ultimately the club might use Wil Myers at first base or explore other options full-time. It is hard to say what Yonder Alonso’s trade value is right now. It is definitely not what it once was, but he has a great left-handed swing and that in itself holds a lot of value. We will just have to wait and see what Preller and the Padres decide to do with Yonder.