In the next several weeks, the San Diego Padres baseball operations staff will be in full evaluation mode.
The 2018 season was not as productive as most have wished in terms of wins and losses, but there is still hope for this young squad. Plenty of youth on the team are at a point in their careers where a crossroad is coming. The Padres will definitely have a couple of tough decisions to make before the start of the 2019 season.
Certain players have regressed in terms of value, but those who did were not considered pieces of the future. Bryan Mitchell, Jordan Lyles, Tyson Ross, Chase Headley, and Jose Pirela were not, and are not, players the Padres are looking for to guide their team into future relevancy. Some have already been eliminated from the roster, while others are certainly close to being removed.
It is all about the future in San Diego right now. As it should be. Players like Austin Hedges, Travis Jankowski, and Hunter Renfroe are all producing, finally, at the major league level. Then you have rookies like Robert Stock, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Christian Villanueva, and Franmil Reyes all chipping in. There is much to be excited about.
Currently, the team has an outfield issue. That is an excellent problem to have. The Padres are going to have, potentially, five men competing for three outfield positions at the start of the 2019 season. Wil Myers and Manuel Margot figure to get two spots, while Franchy Cordero, Hunter Renfroe, and Franmil Reyes battle it out for the last spot. Things can obviously change in the next seven to eight months. Trades can happen. Rosters can be adjusted.
Let’s take a look at the Padres options in the outfield:
Myers will play. The team is invested in him and he will be in the lineup as long as he can remain healthy. There have been sightings of Myers at third base in recent weeks, which is interesting, to say the least. Andy Green keeps saying that it is nothing but Wil having fun during warm-ups. We will have to see if Myers makes his major league debut at the position soon. The Padres surely see the problem they are faced with. All these men need consistent at-bats.
The 23-year-old center fielder has taken off in recent months. After a slow start to the 2018 season, Margot is well on his way to having a very productive 2018 season. He has great range in center, but is still learning the position. The right-handed hitter should be a top-of-the-order presence for a long time with the team. He has great speed, but is struggling with his reads and jumps on the base paths. He could blossom into an above average player in time if he works hard. Margot is locked at center for the team.
The ball just jumps off of Cordero’s bat. He has a strikeout issue, but in the last few weeks before his elbow injury, he showed tremendous patience at the plate. Franchy could be on the verge of stardom as he figures out his swing and what he can and cannot do with the bat. The Padres will surely find at-bats for him as he provides left-handed power to the team. The 22-year-old can play center, as he has amazing speed, but is probably more of a corner outfield option for the team moving forward. His elbow should be fine by spring training.
In the last few weeks, we have seen a calmer Hunter Renfroe at the plate. He has made crucial adjustments to offspeed pitches and looks completely locked in at the plate. There is still time for the 27-year-old to have value and be a productive major leaguer. The ball has a different sound off his bat as he has no issues driving the ball out of the park. Renfroe has come on at the perfect time for the Padres as he provides experience at the major league level for a team full of youth. His future is a bit cloudy, but a solid two months could go a long way towards his future in San Diego.
The 23-year-old Reyes has huge power and has shown a unique ability to make quick adjustments at the plate. He is showing that he may be far more than just a big guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. Reyes has mobility issues in the outfield because of his size, but he is not a below-average fielder. He has a plus arm and quick feet. He runs the bases well and is not afraid to take the extra base. The future of Reyes seems really bright, but he is buried behind so many players who can only play in the outfield. What will the Padres do?
Others of note:
The speedy Jankowski has a great attitude and can play all three outfield positions with ease. He provides great speed to the team and can swipe a bag late in the game for the team. He seems to be a filler at this point on the team. He is capable of playing everyday, but there is just too much talent around him to get vital everyday at-bats with the Friars. In a perfect world, Jankowski would be the team’s #4 outfielder and a great option off the bench.
Moved off of first base to potentially get his bat in the lineup, Naylor has been surprisingly productive in the outfield. He is not a Gold Glover just yet, but he does look like he will be able to man the position if the team needs him to. The left-handed hitter has developing power and a great eye at the plate. Naylor will be a major leaguer some day. That is for certain. The Padres have time as Naylor is still in Double-A, but the 21-year-old is close to being ready for major league at-bats.
The Padres seem committed to Mejia behind the plate, but do not be surprised if he gets some time in the outfield to get his bat in the lineup more often. The smaller in stature catcher could use some days off from behind the dish to keep him fresh during the grind of a major league season. Mejia is still probably going to get the majority of his playing time at catcher, but this is something to keep an eye on. The switch-hitter has a terrific bat.
In the end, a trade will need to happen to make room for all these men. Myers could move to third and help the situation, but don’t count on that. Ultimately, Myers and Margot will get time in the outfield and the Padres will probably roll with Franchy and either Renfroe or Reyes in the other spot. It seems to me that its likely either Renfroe or Reyes will be shopped this offseason as the team attempts to attain starting pitchers and fill various holes within the roster. A.J. Preller has value to work with in this group of men. We will see what he chooses to do. For now, enjoy the show.