Padres News: Padres Non-Tenders and Potential Free Agent Pick Ups
The San Diego Padres announced prior to the non-tender deadline on Wednesday night that they would not be tendering contracts to infielder Will Middlebrooks, catcher Rocky Gale, or reliever Frank Vargas. The Padres did however elect to bring back first baseman Brett Wallace on a one year deal worth $1 million. With the three moves, and the return of Wallace, the Padres 40-man roster now currently sits at 36 players. While none of these three moves come as a huge surprise, Middlebrooks is perhaps the most surprising of all three.
While Gale was blocked in the major leagues by the combination of Derek Norris and Austin Hedges, and Frank Garces struggled mightily in the Padres bullpen throughout the season after beginning the year in Triple AAA, Will Middlebrooks was the Padres starting third baseman for opening day and was expected to produce. After a decent start to the season, Middlebrooks took a downhill turn, ending with his demotion to Triple AAA where he would finish the season. The Padres must feel confident in the ability of Yangervis Solarte to not bring Middlebrooks back at all.
All three players should be able to bounce back and find spots on other rosters for 2016, but now the Padres must focus on their own roster and filling the holes that have been left. With Gale, Middlebrooks and Garces, not returning next season, the Padres now have four open slots on their 40-man roster that they can fill from either their own organization or from outside the organization. For the sake of discussion, the focus here will be on those outside the organization.
With those four open 40-man roster spots, the Padres may choose to look at other newly non-tendered players from other teams to perhaps fill those slots. For this exercise, I will focus on the five most interesting non-tendered players from other rosters and the possibility of the Padres bringing them to San Diego for 2016.
The most intriguing, and probably the most expected, of all the non-tenders on Wednesday was Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez had clearly fallen out of favor with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015, and the Pirates were making quite the effort to trade the first baseman over the last week leading up to the non-tender deadline. Obviously no match was found, and the Pirates decided to let Alvarez walk rather than pay him his approximately $9 million in projected salary. With Yonder Alonso gone, the Padres now have an opening at first base, although Wil Myers is the logical fit. While the Alvarez-San Diego fit makes sense on paper, with the contract tendered to Brett Wallace, Pedro Alvarez is not really a piece that makes sense on the Padres roster in 2016.
An option that may make a bit more sense for the Padres is Chris Carter. Carter, who was in a similar situation to Alvarez, was shopped by his team over the last week but no match was found. Carter profiles similarly to Alvarez, lots of power but not much else, but comes as a right handed hitter rather than a lefty. With Wallace on the Padres bench, it would make a little more sense to have a right hander like Carter as an option. The only issue is that neither one plays good enough defense at first base, and neither is passable as an outfielder. Having two players that fit the same mold would not be logical, and therefore Carter would not make much sense for the Padres.
Next on the list is a reliever who was non-tendered by the St. Louis Cardinals. Cishek was a dominant reliever for the Marlins from 2012 to 2014, but struggled to maintain his strong performance in 2015. After a slow start to the season in Miami, Cishek ended up with the Cardinals where he finished the season better than he started. Even so, with Cishek due to make around $7 million in arbitration, the price was just too steep. While the Padres could use extra relievers, and play in a park where relievers tend to rejuvenate their careers, Cishek makes quite a bit of money. Considering the Padres just traded Joaquin Benoit and his $8 million salary, they would appear an unlikely fit for a pitcher making about the same amount of money who isn’t quite as good.
Next on the list is another Marlin, well now former Marlin, who was non-tendered by the fish mostly because of injury concerns. This was probably the most surprising of all non-tender decisions as Alvarez is perhaps the most high profile of all the non-tendered players. Alvarez is still young with plenty of potential in the future, but the Marlins clearly saw some issues with his shoulder’s health that caused him to miss significant time last season. Only due to make $4 million next season, Alvarez will be a hot commodity this offseason, shoulder injury or not. The Padres should be interested as many other teams will be. The fit is there and this makes a bit more sense than a few of the other options above.
The final option, and the one that appears most logical at this juncture, is the possibility of the Padres signing Cesar Ramos, who was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Angels. Ramos pitched to a 2.75 ERA out of the Angels bullpen last season, and was projected at a $1.7 million salary for 2016. The Padres have a bit of a need for bullpen help, specifically a lefty specialist, and Ramos fits the mold. Some of his peripheral numbers drew question marks last season, such as poor xFIP and SIERA numbers, but Ramos would be able to succeed in spacious Petco Park. Out of all the non-tendered players from other rosters, Ramos would make the most sense as a potential fit for the Padres in 2016.
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-five years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.