Padres strange outfield history (one-year wonders)
Ron Gant (2002)
The San Diego Padres signed Ron Gant for $500,000 before the start of the 2002 season, and he proved to be a decent bargain for the team. Gant was known for his rare combination of power and speed throughout his career. He was 37 when the Padres signed him, so he was definitely just a shadow of his former self.
Gant was still productive for the Padres despite his age as he hit 18 homers and drove in 59 runs in 102 games for the team. He had a batting line of .262/.338/.489 and produced a 1.9 WAR rating. The Padres got the most out of Gant in his one season at Qualcomm Stadium. He left the team after the year and signed with the Oakland Athletics. He only played in 17 games in 2003 and then retired from the game. He last hooray as a major league baseball player was as a Padre.
Jay Payton (2004)
This excellent defender and emerging hitter was signed as a free agent after hitting 28 home runs for the Colorado Rockies during the 2003 season. Payton had a break out performance in Colorado, and the Padres gambled that his numbers would transition at sea level. The Padres gave him a two-year deal at five million dollars to fill an outfield void for the team.
Payton responded by hitting .260 with eight home runs and 55 RBIs in 143 games. Not the numbers the Padres envisioned when they signed Payton, but he did play defense really well. Despite his pedestrian like numbers Payton produced a 1.9 WAR rating for the 2004 season. The Padres traded him with David Pauley, Ramon Vazquez, and cash to the Boston Red Sox for speedster Dave Roberts. Payton retired in 2010 after 12 years of service time in the major leagues.
Al Martin (2000)
In February of 2000, the Padres sent John Vander Wal, Jim Sak, and Geraldo Padua to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Al Martin. The Padres were looking for a veteran left-handed bat in their lineup, and they found their man in Al Martin. The outfielder was blessed with plenty of tools and was coming off a season where he hit 24 home runs and stole 20 bases. Padres management was excited.
Martin went on to have a batting line of .306/.360/.474 in 93 games and 346 at-bats. He hit 11 home runs and drove in 27 runs while playing left-field for the Padres. The Padres team was once again out of playoff contention, and Martin was dealt at the trade deadline to the Seattle Mariners for Tom Davey and John Mabry. Martin didn’t play well in Seattle and only lasted one more season beyond that in the major leagues. He was yet another example of a “one-year wonder” in the history of the Padres outfield.
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Good read. I was ready to mention George Hendrick, but I see he played in two nonconsecutive seasons. Don’t remember that one, but got me to thinking a topic for you to investigate and share. When the Padres became an expansion team, how did they acquire their first 40 man roster? There must be a story for each one. Who had the say on what player? Teams had to give up part of their 25man?, like a draft? What sort of compensation was given to a team for sending to the Padres? If MLB decides to expand again, who decides which player the Pads send and what would they receive in return? If I am the new owner of the Boise Spuds, I’ll take Kirby Yates and then get in line. You can have my first round pick 25 years from now?
Your column reminds me: I think San Diego’s farm system has never produced a competent ML first baseman who played for the Padres (unless you count Broderick Perkins, which I don’t). Of course, the team has had a number of good first basemen who hung around for a year or two, but they were all acquired through trades, free agency, or the 1969 expansion draft. The Padres will need to start developing their own power hitting corner infielders very soon. Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo probably aren’t coming back.
How about John Kruk? He didn’t play much first base for the Padres because of Garvey, but he did have a very nice career
Derek Lee. I think he only had a couple ABs with us but he was a product of our system I believe. We’ve produced some pitchers, catchers, shortstops, second basemen, and corner outfielders. Corner infielders and center fielders have been a tough find though.