With the regular season on pause and spring training over, the San Diego Padres did not get a full opportunity to evaluate the battle at their second base position.
If the way the lineups are being written for each game is any indication, the race to claim the starting second base job is wide open. San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler has shown that he is open to providing opportunities to as many as five players getting the majority of spring at-bats to determine who is on the lineup card opening day.
After a 2019 season that saw Ian Kinsler, Greg Garcia and eventually Luis Urias play the majority of innings at second base for the Padres, general manager A.J. Preller added some competition to the roster via Jurickson Profar, Brian Dozier and Jake Cronenworth to ultimately attempt to add much-needed offense to a lineup that only saw a combined batting average of .229 between the 2019 second baseman.
With the retirement of Ian Kinsler, the trade of Luis Urias to the Milwaukee Brewers, and the insertion of potential super-utility man, Ty France, as many as five players could end up winning the job.
An offseason trade with the Oakland A’s acquired Profar for catcher Austin Allen and a player to be named later from the Padres. General manager A.J. Preller has been linked to Profar almost annually in trade rumors, and he was finally able to land him. Coming off a year in Oakland where he hit 20 home runs and had 67 RBIs and a slash line of .218/.301/.410, he could certainly add some pop to a lineup that was lacking such power from that position in 2019.
A switch hitter, Profar adds an aspect to the lineup that can provide the Padres with good righty/lefty matchup options within a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup. His versatility of being able to play multiple infield positions as well as the outfield, if needed, makes him very likely to make the team out of spring, barring a trade or injury. Whether or not he will be the starting second baseman or not is still to be determined.
A local product and unmistaken fan favorite, Garcia was the most productive second baseman on the San Diego Padres in 2019. A solid left-handed bat that while only in platoon duty slashed .248/.364/.354 with four home runs and 31 RBIs. With a reliable glove to go along with the ability to also play third base and shortstop in a pinch, Garcia is a reliable utility player. Ultimately, his limitations at the plate may not warrant him the starting job, but his versatility may claim him a spot on the opening day 26-man roster.
Joining the team once spring training had already begun in February, the addition of Brian Dozier goes to show that general manager A.J. Preller is always looking to improve the roster. An All-Star in 2015 and Gold Glove winner in 2017, Dozier has the potential to be a great addition to the Padres. A solid veteran right-handed bat could bring leadership and championship pedigree to the clubhouse as well within a very young overall roster.
In 2019, while playing for the World Series champion Washington Nationals, Dozier hit 20 home runs with 50 RBIs while slashing .238/.340/.430. And while those numbers are a bit down in comparison with Dozier’s career metrics, they would bring a significant offensive upgrade to a lineup in desperate need of more consistent production. Dozier does not possess the versatility of Profar or Garcia, so that also makes this race even more exciting to see who ultimately wins a spot on this team.
Coming over to the Padres as part of the trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that also acquired outfielder Tommy Pham in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and shortstop Xavier Edwards, Cronenworth is a two-way left-handed hitting and right-handed pitching player who can play second base, shortstop as well as pitch. Cronenworth is a swiss army knife type of player who could really play a role on a National League team and with the rosters expanding to 26 players.
In 88 games in Triple-A for the Durham Bulls, Cronenworth hit ten home runs with 45 RBIs and slashed .334/.429/.520. While only pitching seven innings in Triple-A in 2019, the Padres have shown this spring. They are very interested to see what he brings to the table from the mound as well. Given the potential, he has shown in the minors with his bat, and the given versatility of being able to also pitch at a big-league level may very well earn him a place on this roster.
The San Diego State product has had no shortage of success coming up through the Padres minor league system. In 2018 and 2019, France tore up the Texas League and the Pacific Coast League at stops in Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso. In that span, France hit 49 home runs and had 185 RBIs while batting .399 in 2019 before being promoted to the majors. While France’s power numbers are impressive, the adjustment to major league pitching took its toll as it does to most rookies, and France only hit .234 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in 184 at-bats. This spring the Padres have shown an interest in making France a super-utility type player, including even having him take reps at catcher during bullpen sessions, as a sign they are interested in having his bat on this roster. France can also play third base (his natural position) as well as first base.
As spring training games concluded, the Padres were still evaluating this position moving forward. There is no indication when games will start and no clear answer on who the San Diego Padres’ starting second baseman will be once Opening Day finally comes. Time will tell what the team does.