Let’s face it. The San Diego Padres season is not going well. The team is in last place and needs a miracle to get out of the hole they have dug them self into. Injuries have been an issue as Tyson Ross, Yangervis Solarte, Cory Spangenberg, Jemile Weeks, Andrew Cashner, Robbie Erlin, Alexi Amarista and Matt Thornton have all missed time with injury.
To add to the injury problems, Wil Myers is battling a sore forearm (hopefully not related to his wrist) and Jon Jay is battling a sore shoulder. The Padres team is a wounded bunch, but despite all the injury issues, the team has had chances to compete. They just continually find new ways to implode as they truly lack consistency. That was to be expected as the team would once again consist of a new group of players and a rookie manager.
Andy Green has done well. It is unfair to put all the Padres issues on him at this point. All in all he has managed the team well and shown the leadership skill necessary to become a succesful MLB manager. He is learning though. That cannot be debated. He is learning how to motivate players and how to get the most out of them. He is also learning to trust his coaching staff and their judgements. Something that comes difficult for Green as he prefers to know everything. It’s just not possible when you manage a big league team, your coaching staff has to be trusted.
The Padres current issue revolves around the outfield. Jon Jay, Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr. command just under one-third of the Padres 2016 salary. The trio will make $30.55 million this year. With salaries like that, each has to play everyday. The Padres already have a corner outfielder (Wil Myers) playing first base as well, so there is no need for outfield help at this point. Unfortunately that is just what the Padres have in the upper minor league system.
Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Alex Dickerson, Jabari Blash and Travis Jankowski are all ready or nearly ready for major league service time. Jankowski is already with the Padres, the other four are in Triple-A and with the exception of Margot, basically ready to begin the career at the major league level. Margot could use a little more seasoning, but he is also very close. The team will likely take their time with the 21-year-old and be very hesitant to start the major league service time clock on him.
Jon Jay is in the last year of his contract. He will be dealt before the trade deadline. He is a great player and an excellent presence in the clubhouse, but again the Padres just have too much talent on the rise at the outfield position to invest any long-term deal on Jay. The team should fetch a decent prospect or two in return for the left-handed hitting outfielder. Very soon teams will be calling A.J. Preller about Jay. That you can be sure of. Left handed hitting veterans of his ilk are important to teams making a playoff run.
Melvin Upton Jr.is an interesting case. Before coming to the Padres he was easily considered one of the worst contracts in the game of baseball. After a resurging second half last season, he has boosted his value and could very well be dealt. In fact he is very likely to be moved. The Padres wouldn’t probably have to eat much of the money owed Upton either, but that all depends on the players attained in return for him. He could provide a contender a plus defender with a productive bat.
Matt Kemp is the issue. His defense is horrible. There is no way to sugar coat it. Andy Green can place him in the likely spot for a ball to go, but sometimes his judgement is needed to track the ball and make the play. Kemp clearly lacks those skills. He continually takes horrible angles on balls and gets late jumps off the bat. As he ages, it will not be a pretty sight to see. Could he be dealt? He can still hit. You would have to think to an American League team, he can be useful, but the $18.25 million per year (Dodgers paying the other $3.5 owed per year) for four seasons is rough. Very rough.
The Padres future is Margot and Renfroe. Dickerson, Blash and Jankowski all deserve a chance to compete for a spot as well. By 2017 all will be completely ready for major league service. Kemp and Upton will still be under contract at that point and that will simply not work. What will A.J. Preller do? I just don’t see him moving Renfroe nor Margot, so that means the veterans will all be moved. Expect Jay and Upton to go fairly soon, with Kemp hopefully moved by next spring training. Not because the team is cutting payroll, but because they need to develop their future.
It might look as though the Padres are doing their usual thing and selling off their best players, but Kemp, Upton and Jay must be moved in order for the future to be developed. The writing is on the wall. Moves will be made. This current outfield cannot continue to strangle the team financially. Not with the future deserving a shot to play.