It appears the San Diego Padres not done overhauling the roster. What else should the Padres take care of during the MLB Winter Meetings?
After just over a month of the offseason, AJ Preller of the San Diego Padres made a flurry of moves.
One after another, the trades and signings have been rolling into San Diego. However, there are still holes to fill on the team, and the winter meetings will be the place to fill them. But what should Preller be going after? Let’s take another look at the roster and see what other moves Preller should be making.
A top starting pitcher should have been high on the to-do list for the Padres.
Unfortunately, the trade for Zach Davies does not satisfy that need. The Padres need a legitimate top of the rotation arm, and anything else is a sideways move. A staff of Garrett Richards, Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Joey Lucchesi, Cal Quantrill, and Davies is reasonably young and talented. However, unless the Padres believe Richards returns to the 2014-2015 levels, there is a definite need for a top arm. Yes, Richards likely will serve in a mentor role, but how good will he be coming off surgery? Only time will tell. It’s not the most significant concern on the roster, but not getting a star pitcher should temper expectations of this ball club. Instead of playoff aspirations, there should be an expectation of around a .500 record and watching October baseball at home.
The depth of starting pitching is excellent at this point in time. Quantrill or Lucchesi would likely come out of the bullpen, yet still, make spot starts when needed. There’s also top prospect MacKenzie Gore that is likely to make his debut in 2020. The Padres could and should be trading from this depth if a pitcher is acquired. With prospect depth beyond Gore and Luis Patino, these players could also be traded during the winter meetings and beyond.
The bullpen is deep, talented, and likely the most substantial part of the current 2020 roster. Drew Pomeranz was added to solidify what should be a top group of relievers. Kirby Yates was arguably the best closer in baseball in 2019. Andres Muñoz and Michel Baez showed excellent promise in their short time last season. Jose Castillo is coming back healthy along with Matt Strahm. These six, along with either Quantrill or Lucchesi, will take up seven of eight likely bullpen spots. The last spot looks to be a revolving door of guys like Luis Perdomo, Trey Wingenter, David Bednar, Gerardo Reyes, and others. If one of these pitchers breaks out, they may solidify their spot in the lineup, or they could be traded for value near the deadline. But adding to the bullpen does not seem likely at this point.
The infield looks to be mostly set as well after an offseason trade. Jurickson Profar was added to compete for the starting second base job. Greg Garcia was also retained for 2020, and Ian Kinsler is still on the roster as well. Between these three players, the Padres owe over $10 million, that’s quite a bit for a platoon. Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. round out the infield. It would be surprising for the Padres to add an infielder without one or both of Kinsler and Garcia being traded away. There are a few prospects that are blocked by this platoon as well. Ty France, Owen Miller, Hudson Potts, and Esteban Quiroz are among the infield prospects that may be ready for the MLB in 2020. But after trading away Xavier Edwards and Luis Urias, there is no clear second baseman of the future. There are lots of players that could take that spot in the future, so look for the Padres to trade from their abundance of infield prospects.
The catchers are also likely set, just not in stone. Austin Hedges is renowned for his defensive ability, but his struggles at the plate are also evident. Francisco Mejia has shown his ability to hit the ball is exceptional for a catcher. He does have his limitations behind the plate but made great strides last season. The Padres likely hope to see Mejia become more proficient defensively and claim the majority of the starts behind at catcher. Until that time, he and Hedges are likely to split games behind the plate. Luis Torrens has shown a lot of potential both defensively and offensively. He likely will not start on the 26 man roster but will take spot starts as Austin Allen did in 2019. Although they lack a real, proven two-way catcher, the Padres have depth at the position.
The outfield was the most significant question coming into this season. With the addition of Trent Grisham and Tommy Pham, the outfield group is starting to take shape. Wil Myers and his $20 million price tag this year are still on the team. If he is not moved, the Padres are all but out of signing any additional free agents this season. The payroll is at an all-time high, and adding a big chunk to that would be highly unlikely. If retained Myers would be no doubt starting in one of the corners, with Pham and Grisham rounding out the outfield. That still leaves Franchy Cordero and Josh Naylor as bats off the bench, not a bad place for either player who both struggle defensively. The Padres also have Taylor Trammell, that isn’t likely to debut until 2021, Edward Olivares, and Jorge Ona as prospects. It’s unlikely any of the three would be traded, Naylor would be one of the few outfield trade chips and teams may still see him as a first baseman or DH.
So there you have it after just over a month A.J. Preller has been able to make many moves you would typically only see in a video game, but he’s not done yet. A top of the rotation arm could be added. Wil Myers could also be traded away, opening up another need in the outfield.
The team still has plenty of trade chips in starting pitchers, including Adrian Morejon and one of Lucchesi and Quantrill. Prospects Roland Bolaños, Ryan Weathers, Joey Cantillo, and Reggie Lawson, could also be used. Josh Naylor should be available, as well as Owen Miller, Hudson Potts, and Gabriel Arias. Needless to say, there is more than enough firepower for A.J. Preller to continue to revamp the roster at the winter meetings.
It’s been an exciting offseason so far, and it’s only the beginning of December, the Padres aren’t even finished with the overhaul yet. The next couple of moves should decide what expectations the Padres should have going into 2020.