Padres seem open to CJ Abrams moving to outfield

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Padres CJ Abrams
Credit: Gregory Bull / Associated Press

CJ Abrams has impressed thus far in camp. Could a position change increase his chances of making the Padres’ Opening Day roster? 

CJ Abrams is the top prospect in the Padres’ organization and the No. 9 prospect in all of baseball for many reasons. One of them is his elite athleticism. MLB Pipeline gives Abrams an “80” grade for speed, their top mark. In 76 minor league games, he has stolen 28 bases.

While he has long been projected as a shortstop, the Padres may ponder how to best use his skills regarding the needs of the 2022 squad. Of course, star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is gone until at least June. The Friars seem sold on having Ha-Seong Kim man the position every day until Tatis’ return, even as Abrams continually impresses during Spring Training.

There are growing rumblings saying the Padres are open to the idea of Abrams playing in the outfield, where the team has the least amount of depth. With his elite speed and athleticism, Abrams could offer a strong insurance policy for Trent Grisham in center field. In left field, the top two options are currently Jurickson Profar and Matt Beaty.

While the Padres appear not to be completely sold on the idea, they are looking more interested than before. This is likely due to the increasing reality that no big bat is coming from the outside to aid in the outfield. Most of the outfield free agents have signed elsewhere, and the Padres likely will not pay up and surrender a draft pick to sign Michael Conforto. The Friars will need to get creative to resolve their roster holes. One of the solutions is possibly giving Abrams reps in the outfield.

Even before the Tatis injury, there were whispers that the Padres could have Abrams switch to the outfield, given that Tatis is under contract for over a decade with no clear path for Abrams to play shortstop with the big league squad. It was assumed that if there was a future for Abrams in San Diego, it was somewhere other than shortstop.

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Abrams has not played any other positions professionally besides shortstop and second base to this point. With his natural skills, one would assume he could develop into a quality outfielder if necessary. The Padres seem to also want Abrams to stay as close to a shortstop as possible, which helps keep his trade value sky-high. If Abrams does join the outfield ranks this season, it may be temporary.

Either way, Abrams is hitting well enough to be plugged into the lineup somewhere. Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Brewers, the 21-year-old leads the team in spring with seven hits, a .304 average, two homers, and a .898 OPS. If he finishes the spring as strong as he started, the Padres may be forced to put him somewhere on the roster. Now it appears that doing so as an outfielder is on the table.

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