The San Diego Padres enter the off-season with a list of priorities after the roster overhaul that became known as the “A.J. Preller Experiment” failed to turn the franchise into a winner.
The Padres need a manager after the club announced that Pat Murphy won’t return next season. They also need to address the issue surrounding left fielder Justin Upton. Will they resign him? If not, how will they replace him?
The top priority for Preller and the Padres should be finding an everyday shortstop, something they did not have during the 2015 season. The closest thing they had to an everyday shortstop was Alexi Amarista, who most likely would not have started for most clubs.
If San Diego wants to avoid playing another round of musical shortstops like they did last season (Jedd Gyorko, Will Middlebrooks, Amarista), finding a shortstop should be their focus as soon as free agency begins.
The list of free agent shortstops for 2016 isn’t deep, not is it loaded with talent. The following is a list of players the Padres could pursue if they choose to acquire a shortstop through free agency:
Arias was less than stellar in 2015 with the San Francisco Giants. Arias didn’t see much playing time due to Brandon Crawford being the everyday starter at the position.
Arias played just 40 games last season, in which he hit .207 through 59 plate appearances, Arias posted a .483 OPS over that span. Expect the Padres to go after Arias only if all other scenarios don’t fall through.
Known to Kansas City Royals fans as “Esky,” Escobar has been an important piece in the Royals’ success over the last two seasons. The question now is: Will he continue to be an important piece?
Escobar has a $5.25 million option for next season. If the Royals decide not to pick that up, he is a free agent.
Escobar’s WAR through five seasons has been 9.4. While he isn’t the main reason why the team is winning (that entire roster has played well together), his defense has been a vital asset.
If the Royals decide not to retain Escobar, expect Preller to make a pitch to bring him to San Diego.
Drew comes off a 2015 season in which he hit just .201 with the New York Yankees, but with 34 extra-base hits. Perhaps it could be due to him trying to flex muscle at the plate instead of situational hitting.
However, Drew’s power as a shortstop could be an attractive quality for the Padres, who experienced power shortages last season.
Desmond was the subject of Padres rumors last season. Expect his name to be mentioned again before the 2016 campaign.
Through seven seasons with the Washington Nationals, Desmond hit .264 and posted a .736 OPS. He has the ability to hit for power and has speed on the base paths. However, he committed 147 errors on the field during that period, but still has a .962 fielding percentage.
Desmond could very well be a target on the Padres’ radar. But he won’t be cheap. The Padres will have to be willing to spend if they want to bring him to the clubhouse.