There is no doubt that A.J. Preller and the rest of his San Diego Padres staff are licking their chops.
With plenty to do before a capable roster is constructed for the 2022 season, the Padres need to make moves. Rumors are swirling that Preller will attempt to trade Eric Hosmer, and with that, the trickle-down effect should be interesting.
There will be moves for the Padres, and the organization is eager to get going. There is no denying that fact.
Who’s on first?
The easy answer after a potential trade of Hosmer is to put Jake Cronenworth at first base and allow Ha-Seong Kim or maybe even CJ Abrams to open the season at the keystone position. You get a sense that the Padres would go another route, though. There are several free agents available at the first base position, including Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Freddie Freeman. There are also trade options around the league that could be an option at first base for the Padres.
It will be interesting to see who plays first base for the Padres on Opening Day in 2022.
Upgrade in left field- please
The Padres also have issues in left field, where Jurickson Profar is penciled in to begin the year at the position. His value lies in his versatility and ability to be functional off the bench. The Padres will want to explore other options in the outfield. Nomar Mazara was signed to a minor-league deal last month, and the veteran could factor to some degree. The former Ranger brings a ton of power potential from the left side of the plate, but the team will add more players into the mix.
Wil Myers is penciled in in right field, but the Padres could choose to try and deal the outfielder in the last year of his contract. If San Diego does move Myers, then the team will explore upgrading in right field as well. Expect the Padres to sign at least one outfielder with decent credentials. There is a possibility that the team brings in two new outfielders as well, as, beyond CJ Abrams and Jorge Ona, there is not much depth at the upper minor league level for the Padres.
Bring in a DH-type hitter?
At this point, the Padres do not have the offensive firepower to compete in the NL West, let alone Major League Baseball. There is a need for more power and with the DH a possibility for the NL moving forward, expect the Padres to bring in a couple of “bats.” Nelson Cruz makes sense as he is a free agent and looking for a competitive team capable of winning a World Series title.
Whether it is Cruz or whomever, San Diego needs production from this position in 2022 and beyond. A.J. Preller will be active in bringing in a few capable offensive threats this winter. The Padres can invest in a few of the higher proceed free-agents, or they could wait and bring in some quality veterans at fractions of the price. The DH position will need to be addressed by the Padres in some degree as there is nobody on the current roster capable of establishing themself.
Starting staff set?
The starting rotation is pretty full, with Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell leading the way. Mike Clevinger, Chris Paddack, and Dinelson Lamet are all coming back from injuries in 2021, and Ryan Weathers and MacKenzie Gore give the Padres some youth and potential. Then there is Nick Martinez, who the Padres signed to a $20-million contract after his stuff improved while pitching in Japan.
At this point, the Padres will not bring in an expensive starting pitcher. The feeling is that they will roll with what they have and make a trade for pitching at the 2022 trade deadline if needed. In fact, the thought is the Padres may dangle their ample starting pitchers in potential trade talks this spring. Anything is possible.
Who will close?
The rotation may be taking real shape, but there are some questions about the bullpen where the Padres lack an established closer. Emilio Pagan and Drew Pomeranz have some experience closing, but neither seem like a viable option for an entire season. Robert Suarez, who was signed from Japan, is an interesting option. The right-hander is armed with a triple-digit fastball and a plus changeup. Suarez is considered a rookie but could be a sleeper candidate for the closing position.
A.J. Preller may make a run at a veteran closer, but the priority seems to be in upgrading the offense. The current group of relievers may not be household names, but there are reasons to be positive regarding their possibilities in 2022. The Padres are aggressive when it comes to trades. At this point, Preller and his staff will set a priority on moves and let the chips fall where they must. Expect San Diego to be active with a flurry of deals once the major league season resumes. It is the Preller way.