5. Figure Out What Position Wil Myers is Going to Play
Wil Myers had quite an up and down year in 2015 for the Padres. When he wasn’t out with various, recurring wrist injuries he was being shuffled around the diamond quite a bit. Myers started the year in center field, which was a horrible decision in terms of defense, before being moved to first base following an injury to Yonder Alonso. Once he did return to the lineup later in the year, he once again split time between the two positions and even played some time in left as well.
For Myers in 2016, the thing he needs most is some stability. It is clear Myers is the future of the Padres, and one of the main pieces the Padres hope to build a winning ball club around. Beyond that, picking Myers position also effects two or three others around the diamond and will be critical to the Padres front office knowing what parts they need in free agency. Do they need a first baseman, or can Myers play the role? Do they need another outfielder if he does move to first, or will Myers remain in the outfield for the long-term? The only thing that is obvious with Wil Myers is his need to stay healthy next year and the Padres need to not have him in centerfield.
6. Convince Matt Kemp to move to first
If we come back to the question of who will play first base for the Padres in 2016, Matt Kemp emerges as a very unlikely candidate, although he just may be the one that makes the most sense. Kemp came to life in the second half, once again showing Padres fans why A.J. Preller went out and traded for him the first place. With his offensive production back to where it should be, the main question mark for Kemp remains his atrocious defense.
Kemp was by far the worst right fielder in all of baseball last season, and was perhaps one of the worst fielders of any position. Any offensive value he did provide in the second half was almost completely nullified by his questionable decision-making in right field. It is evident that Kemp is reaching the back half of his career, and is just not the same defensive player he used to be. The sooner the Padres and him realize this, the better off they will be. This all starts with Matt Kemp moving to first base. This will not only put less stress on Kemp’s knees but will also allow Wil Myers to move back to his more natural position in right field for next year.
7. Get Rid of Yonder Alonso
If one player needs to go, it is Yonder Alonso. With his long injury history and his overall poor performance at first base, the Padres need to go in another direction at first base. This could involve shifting one of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers or Derek Norris to first base in either the short or long-term or could more likely involve the Padres signing or trading for a first baseman to fill the void more readily. One name that could be in the discussion is Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. The better option to save some more money would be using Matt Kemp in that capacity, although it seems unlikely either him or the coaching staff would go for that.
8. Add Outfield Depth
With the likely departure of Justin Upton looming, the Padres may need to add some outfield depth. They will likely have some combination of Wil Myers, Melvin Upton, Matt Kemp and perhaps some combination of Travis Jankowski, Hunter Renfroe, or Rymer Liriano in the outfield for next year. This seems like a good start but the Padres need more proven commodities as insurance in case any or all of the three youngsters are not ready to be full-time big leaguers as early as opening day next season.
The Padres need to decide on what they want to do with Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross as soon as possible. Both are nearing free agency and the Padres would be wise to consider trading one or both in order to accumulate assets going forward. Cashner has pretty much neutered all trade value he had and at this point makes the most sense as a candidate to transition into the bullpen. In terms of Tyson Ross, the Padres have an even tougher decision to make. Ross is scheduled to become a free agent following the 2017 season, and is due for a nice salary increase via arbitration after another strong season in 2015. Ross could arguably be the ace of the staff for next season if the Padres do hold on to him, although they may be better off trading him away while his value is at its height.
10. Trade James Shields
It seems that James Shields has already worn out his welcome in San Diego. He was signed to a big free agent contract in February of 2015, and was expected to be the Padres staff ace and lead them into the playoffs. However, that was not to be. Shields ended up being one of the Padres more inconsistent pitchers and was completely overshadowed by Tyson Ross throughout the season. Shields salary only increases this year and the Padres may not want to hold onto a starter being paid like an ace to pitch like a number three starter. Trading Shields would also free up more payroll to fill other areas of need as well as potentially allowing the Padres to sign one or two other starting pitchers.
Stay tuned for part two which will include ten more things on the Padres offseason to-do list.