The San Diego Padres made some huge additions to the outfield last season. The acquisitions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers left little doubt who would be the starting outfielders for the Padres in 2015.
Fast forward to the 2016 season and only Matt Kemp will hold an outfield spot on the Padres. Justin Upton left via free agency and for the time the Padres seem set to have Wil Myers start the season as the teams first baseman. With that, there are openings in the outfield however the Padres still have many options.
Melvin Upton Jr. is being paid quite a bit for the next two seasons and its obvious that he will be in the lineup on most days. The team also acquired Jon Jay from the St.Louis Cardinals for Jedd Gyorko and Jay should see plenty of action as well. The Padres also acquired Jabari Blash, an outfielder with unreal power. He was acquired from the A’s via the Mariners in the rule five draft. Blash must remain on the Padres roster for the entire season or be given back to the Mariners.
Besides Kemp, Upton Jr, Jay and Blash the Padres also have a two young outfielders. Travis Jankowski got his feet wet last season with the Padres, but the team did baby him a bit. He was mostly used in the ninth hole as a hitter. Hunter Renfroe has a very high ceiling and he is close to being major league ready. Those two will most likely start in the minor leagues though. In fact the team is so stacked in the outfield that the team designated former top prospect Rymer Liriano for assignment on Friday.
The outfield is definitely crowded at the moment. The problem is beyond Kemp, none of the other outfielders are a good bet to be above average offensively. The Padres lack offensive firepower and the team must get it from somewhere. The following players could be of interest to the Padres if the team were able to make a move or two. A.J. Preller is capable of anything and if a player is undervalued on the open market, you can bet he will at least kick the tires a bit.
The switch hitting center fielder is the best option available in the outfield after the Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes on Friday. Fowler had a decent year in 2015 where he hit .250 with 17 home runs and 46 RBI’s while stealing 20 bases. He is a bit of an injury concern but did play in a career high 156 games last year for the Cubs. Fowler brings an average glove to the field, but owns a career .363 on base percentage. He gets on base and has decent speed to boot. Dexter Fowler will be 30 this season and will likely get a two or three-year deal from someone. The Padres shouldn’t be a player, for the amount he will get on the open market.
The outfielder has what the Padres need. Power from the left side of the batters box. He is still 28 but really regressed this past season in Philadelphia. He played so bad that the team just cut their ties with him in the offseason. Brown had a monster 2013 season where he made the all-star game and looked to be a blossoming star. His career has been in a tail spin the past two seasons. After hitting .235 with 10 homers in 2014, he hit .228 with five home runs in 63 games for the Phillies last year. His career .305 on base percentage and below average defense are a definite concern. The Padres could kick the tires on him, but he would have to come dirt cheap to the team.
A very interesting option in the outfield is Austin Jackson. The 28-year-old right handed hitter is still young enough to have some quality years ahead of him. In 2012 Jackson hit .300 with a .377 on base percentage while hitting 16 home runs and driving in 66 runs. Those type of numbers are attainable but he has had some down years recently. He hit .267 last year with nine home runs and 48 RBI in 136 games for the Mariners and Cubs. Jackson is an above average defender in center. If the Padres could somehow lose Melvin Upton Jr.’s contract, Jackson would be a perfect fit. Shedding Upton’s contract is no easy task though.
The 34-year-old right handed hitting outfielder has been in the league for 12 years. He is clearly in the twilight of his career, but Rios could provide some nice offensive punch off the bench or in a platoon. He played in 105 games last season but only hit four home runs while hitting .255 with a .287 on base percentage. He won a World Series ring last year with the Royals after signing a 1-year/$1.5 million dollar deal prior to the 2015 season. He will get a deal somewhere from someone. The Padres don’t figure to be a good fit. Rios at this point in his career is more of a DH than an outfielder.