The San Diego Padres have yet to open up the pocketbook and spend any money this winter. Sure the team signed left-handed pitcher Buddy Baumann from the Royals, but the lifelong minor leaguer is not a big name by any means. Baumann has never appeared in a major league game yet the Padres guaranteed him a major league pay check. An interesting story.
The team has been active contrary to what most have been saying as they have traded Craig Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit, Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko this winter. The return for the Padres netted a bunch of prospects and Jon Jay and Drew Pomeranz. The prospects received instantly fortified the Padres minor league system.
Jay will be a useful player for the team and he is noted as having a great team-first mentality. Adding him to the mix should improve the Padres chemistry. Something that was reported to be lacking last year towards the end of the season. Nobody can quite put their finger on it, but the team seemed to be just going through the motions rather than really enjoying themselves on the field.
Pomeranz could be in the mix for the last rotation spot or possibly as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. The Padres really lacked quality lefties last season on the pitching staff and its nice to see A.J. Preller address that issue. He has decent stuff and should be a fixture in the pitching staff for the next few seasons at least.
The team saved about $17 million dollars for the 2016 season in moving Kimbrel, Benoit, Gyorko and Alonso for Pomeranz and Jay. The team can and will allocate those savings into a few players but they are wisely being calm in regards to approaching them. There are tons of quality free agents out there. You could basically construct and all-star team from the remaining free agents that have yet to sign.
Chris Davis, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, Yovani Gallardo, Tyler Clippard, Howie Kendrick, Ian Desmond and Justin Morneau have all not signed. There is plenty of time and those are just the upper echelon of players that are available. If the Padres do some bargain shopping they can land players like Tim Lincecum, Doug Fister, Greg Holland, Alex Rios, Pedro Alvarez, Domonic Brown, Alexei Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins and Kelly Johnson for pennies on the dollar.
This is the time championship teams are built. Not by adding huge players and making big trades. Look at what the Royals did last season at the end of the winter. They added Ryan Madson, Chris Young, Edinson Volquez and Alex Rios. Those type of players are what made the difference in a championship season. Not to say the Padres are in the Royals shoes, but the track record has been set for smaller market teams to follow.
Last offseason’s spending spree and trade frenzy energized the fan base. The fans are now upset the team isn’t making huge trades again, but A.J. Preller has clearly changed gears. The rest of the division has upgraded big time so instead of trying to keep pace or pass them in talent, the Padres need to formulate a new plan. This team must succeed for the long-term and there is no easy fix. Expect the Padres to implement a new philosophy this season and evaluate players to know if they are a nice fit.
With that being said, how quickly the team embraces its new leader determines how quickly they succeed. With veteran all-star type players on the roster now, the Padres are not far off from being a really good team. No analytical stat can predict chemistry, will or desire. The Padres lacked that intangible last season and hopefully the new additions to the team yet to be made will improve the squad in that area.
So will they add a major free agent? You would have to expect something is in the works, but for someone more affordable. The team could use help in the pitching staff and most noticeably at the shortstop position. Padres fans shouldn’t expect Chris Davis at this point. The team is clearly not ready to invest that type of money on someone right now. If they were, they would use that money on Justin Upton. Someone who they already know can hit at Petco Park.
Ian Desmond is a possibility but the price must be correct and the team must be positive that he can justify a hefty payday. Of all the major free agents left, he is the most likely to end up in Padres yellow and blue. So enjoy your New Year’s Padres fans, we should have some clarity in the next few weeks as we get closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to Peoria. This season will be a memorable one no matter what happens from here on out. A.J. Preller is working hard, just continue to have faith in him.