San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller has already fortified the pitching staff going into the 2022 season.
Fireballers Robert Suarez, Luis Garcia, and Ray Kerr were brought into a bullpen that lacked effective hard throwers in 2021. Star Japanese starting pitcher Nick Martinez was also signed to provide depth to the rotation. Preller also added some position player depth, including former Rangers top prospects Jorge Alfaro, Nomar Mazara, and Triple-A slugger Domingo Leyba.
While potentially not completed, the bullpen is also loaded with arms such as Drew Pomeranz, Robert Suarez, Luis Garcia, Pierce Johnson, Craig Stammen, Tim Hill, Nabil Crismatt, Dinelson Lamet, Austin Adams, Emilio Pagan, Ray Kerr, Steven Wilson, and potentially Kevin Kopps. With at least 12 names fighting for eight spots, it’s reasonable to say that the Padres could be done adding bullpen arms. Nonetheless, another high leverage addition such as Taylor Rogers or Lou Trivino remains possible.
It’s clear that following the lockout, the Padres offense will need to be the main focus of improvement to build a more competitive roster for 2022. After great offensive numbers in the shortened 2020 season, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Trent Grisham, Austin Nola, and Jurickson Profar took significant steps back in 2021. Grisham’s great defense at a premium position keeps him extremely valuable. Once fully healthy, Nola should remain a valuable catcher, and Profar’s production is less important since he’s a bench player.
Eric Hosmer’s poor production hurts the team the most. His poor offensive and defensive output make him invaluable on the field at a position that is meant to be leaned on for offensive production. With Hosmer likely to be moved, left fielder Tommy Pham leaving for free agency, and the National League likely to receive the designated hitter. The Padres will have at least first base, designated hitter, and one corner outfield spot to upgrade this offseason.
The case of right fielder Wil Myers is a more interesting one for the team. Myers is slated to earn $20 million next year and was an above-average hitter in 2021, posting a 109 wRC+ in 500 plate appearances for a 1.4 fWAR. Myers struggled defensively in right field in 2021, posting -8 defensive runs saved in 934.1 innings. In his career, Myers has -17 defensive runs saved in 2,791.0 innings in right field as opposed to five defensive runs saved in 883.2 innings in left field. If the team plans on keeping Myers, a move from right to left field could immediately become more valuable as a two to three fWAR player. Myers hit left-handed pitching far better than right-handed pitching last year, with a .746 OPS vs. right-handers and a .828 OPS vs. left-handers.
Power from the left side of the plate remains one of the biggest deficiencies in the current roster makeup. The Padres top left-handed hitters entering 2021 were Eric Hosmer, Jake Cronenworth, and Trent Grisham. While Cronenworth provided some decent power with a .473 slugging percentage against right-handers, Hosmer and Grisham failed to do so, slugging .400 and .401 respectively against them. While Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado slugging .616 and .509 respectively against right-handers helps, the team could use another solid hitter against right-handers.
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