Recently, hot stove talk regarding the San Diego Padres has taken a bit of a turn toward the extravagant. This morning, Jon Heyman with FanRag Sports wrote a piece entitled “Padres serious about interest in Eric Hosmer,” in which he asserts that the Padres are sincere about their desire to bring the 28-year-old first baseman to San Diego.
This is on the heels of whispers about the Padres being realistic contenders in the sweepstakes for 23-year-old pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani, also known as, the “Japanese Babe Ruth”. Ohtani is expected to sign with an MLB team sometime within the next month. He is a huge commodity and the fact that the Padres are in the conversation has stirred up a relative amount of excitement.
There’s also been a decent level of chatter as to whether or not the Padres would be interested in signing 32-year-old, veteran, free-agent, shortstop, Zack Cozart. Cozart who was named to the National League All-Star Team in 2017, is coming off of a career year, and some fans think that he could be the answer to the Padres’ longstanding woes at the shortstop position. Others are concerned that he is a candidate for regression, and at his age, not a long term solution at the premier defensive post; especially at the price point that he will likely demand. The debate is going to continue until he finds a team to sign with.
Today I saw conversations on Twitter estimating what it would take for the Padres to acquire Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins. This was in response to the rumor that the San Francisco Giants and the Marlins were discussing packages, with names being made public. Evidently, the Marlins’ asking price isn’t outside of the Padres’ capabilities, which really got the chatter going.
One thing is for sure; Padres fans are hungry for moves to be made and are having a good time dreaming about some big possibilities. It has been a very quiet offseason, not just in San Diego, but all across the league.
I would like to bring forward another relatively extravagant notion. One that I’m uncertain about as a Padre fan myself. I’m wondering if the team should consider signing 32-year-old free-agent outfielder, Carlos Gonzalez this offseason?
Gonzalez, is coming off of a down year with the Colorado Rockies. He slashed .262/.339/.423 with 14 home runs in 534 plate appearances. By no means are those terrible numbers. He would have been a team leader with the Padres, but stacked up next to the rest of the Rockies’ 2017 lineup, he merely played a supporting role. His most recent contract with the Rockies was seven years for $80 million. Now that he’s older and his profile has dropped a bit, he may be able to be had for a much shorter, less expensive deal. Would it be worth it to the Padres? Is the timing right?
CarGo, could provide some much-needed left-handed power to the Padres’ lineup. This is something that the team will surely want to add at some point if they are hoping to contend in the near future. His career slash line is .288/.346/.511 with a 115 wRC+ in 4881 plate appearances. He has 215 career home runs. If he is able to return to form next season, he could be a serious weapon for the Padres. Especially if some of the team’s current right-handed power hitters, like Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe, are able to put it together and find some consistency in 2018. The bats would complement each other nicely from both sides of the plate.
The Padres’ outfield is not completely figured out yet. Manuel Margot is pretty much a lock in center and Renfroe currently seems to hold the keys to right, but left field is still somewhat of a question mark. Tentatively, Jose Pirela looks like the starting left fielder in 2018. He isn’t a natural outfielder though, and he has versatility around the diamond. His bat can remain in the lineup from somewhere else in the field. Gonzalez could slide into left, or Renfroe could, especially with his poor defensive play in 2017. The Padres may want to give Renfroe another shot in right, however, in order to best utilize his strong arm.
The team does have talented young outfielders like Alex Dickerson and Franchy Cordero, who also will be vying for playing time in 2018. This is probably the main factor working against any potential for the Padres to acquire Gonzalez. Both Dickerson and Cordero could figure to be part of the team’s long term plans and blocking their development may not be worth it, especially for a player who is 32.
At his age, will Gonzalez even still be productive when the team is finally competitive? It’s a risk for sure. The first step will be for him to return to form. There’s no guarantee of that. Especially if he isn’t playing half of his games at Coors Field anymore. He doesn’t do very well at Petco Park. He has slashed .232/.300/.350 with a 27.7 strikeout percentage in 260 plate appearances lifetime at Petco. That’s not pretty. Then he’ll have to keep it up for the next few years because the team really doesn’t project to be a winner until 2020-21. It seems like the cards are stacked pretty heavily against Gonzalez being a contributor on a contending Padres team.
The team could acquire Gonzalez and if he produces, well, flip him at the deadline. This is a familiar move for the Padres. The issue regarding this strategy, however, is that if the team signs CarGo out of free agency and then they promptly trade him away, they may hurt their case in trying to sign future free-agents. Lets not forget that the 2018-19 free-agent class is gearing up to be legendary, with names like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hitting the market. This would not be a smart move since the Padres should be in a better position to sign bigger names at that point. What the Padres need to be doing right now is building a presentation to show players why they should want to play here and stay here.
A favorable outcome may be that Gonzalez hasn’t gotten the contract that he was hoping for by the end of the offseason. Maybe he would be willing to sign a one-year deal to rebuild his value. I’m thinking back to what happened when Ian Desmond signed with the Texas Rangers in 2016. If the Padres acquire him on a one-year deal and then trade him at the deadline, then there’s no hard feelings. The team gets some production and leadership moving towards a big offseason and then a nice haul of prospects at the deadline. A.J. Preller would Prell again.
I just mentioned Gonzalez’ leadership and that’s a really big intangible. He’s a known clubhouse favorite and well-respected veteran. His would be a great presence to have around. Especially with the large amount of young Latino players that the Padres have on their roster. Even if he is only around for a season or less, he could bring leadership to a team that needs good leaders.
When it comes down to it, I’m just not sure that CarGo is the right fit for the Padres at this point. I don’t think the team should be signing a free-agent of his age to a long-term contract for at least another year or two. I don’t think it would be fair to him if the team signed him and then quickly traded him away. On a short-term deal, I would say absolutely. I will definitely say that Gonzalez makes more sense to me than a Hosmer signing. I really don’t like the idea of moving Myers back to the outfield because I think the team needs to show confidence in him that he can bounce back at first base. The Padres don’t really need to be spending money or resources on mediocre right-handed bats at this point. Next offseason will be the time to spend big money. Ultimately, I think the Padres’ current depth in the outfield makes a Gonzalez signing unlikely and probably unnecessary. It’s fun to think about though.