The circus pulled in to town shortly after the Winter Meetings here in San Diego last December, as the Padres went crazy and overhauled their entire team. Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks were all acquired within a matter of days.
When the dust settled, the team had completely revamped their once stale offense with some very productive hitters. Adding hitters with this ability gave the San Diego Padres offense instant credibility.
When the team added James Shields via free agency and Craig Kimbrel via trade, the Padres seemed poised for a playoff run. Well that did not happen as the team has struggled all season long to keep its head above water. Not exactly the splash the front office had hoped to make during the 2015 season.
The nucleus of the team seems close, but in what direction will they go? Both Austin Hedges and Derek Norris have shown they are capable of being an everyday catcher in the Major Leagues. Norris is more polished of the two at the moment, but Hedges seems to be getting better with every start and he is only 23. The team will likely deal one of the two in an attempt to make the team better.
The whole starting staff of the Padres are also attainable. Will the team move James Shields, Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner? Shields is due to make $21 million dollars for the next three seasons. The team could easily move him in an attempt to save some money. Shields will have some suitors, but losing him from the staff might be a negative thing for the team moving forward. Shields provides leadership and accountability to a young staff. Two things that are necessary to succeed.
Andrew Cashner will be in the last year of his contract before free agency. He should be especially motivated to perform after a horrible year this season. He has unlimited potential but has always seemed to fail in living up to expectations. A positive thing is that Cashner looks to actually make it through a complete Major League season. Injuries had often derailed his season. A healthy Cashner could be dealt if the club gets an offer that is worth their while.
Tyson Ross is an interesting case. He is arguably the teams best starting pitcher, but has failed to be consistent. He currently leads all the Major Leagues in walks and constantly finds himself behind in the count. His delivery and motion is unique and he throws mostly with his upper body. With that delivery he will always have some issues locating the ball. Hopefully that delivery does not lead to arm issues in the future.
Ross has one of the best sliders in the game. He makes hitters look silly from time to time. The Padres would be wise to hold on to him and extend him. With improved command, Ross could be a perennial Cy Young award candidate. The team could be swayed to move him if a team were to pay a hefty price tag. Nothing seems out of the realm of possibility for the Padres as they look to improve their franchise.
This upcoming off-season will be active once again for the normally sleepy Padres. The team will not completely tear down and rebuild the roster, but there will be changes made to the team. A real shortstop fixture will be looked for as will a possible replacement for Justin Upton if he leaves via free agency. Hunter Renfroe could be that man, but he would need to continue to develop in order for the team to risk having him as their starting left-fielder next year.
A ton of unanswered questions as the evaluation mode is in full effect. Jedd Gyorko seems like a new man and the Padres are now wondering what they have in him. He and Cory Spangenberg as well as Yangervis Solarte deserve some playing time moving forward. How will the team look in 2016? It will be interesting to see, that is for sure.