The battle over the Padres’ left field job

Credit: Andy Hayt/Getty Images

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Credit: USA Today Sports

The Padres reassigned several players to minor league camp on Sunday. This time we saw first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig, outfielder Shane Peterson, right-handed pitcher Eric Yardley, right-handed pitcher Webster Rivas, and catcher Stephen McGee all depart. Unfortunately, all those moves didn’t clear up the question of who plays left field.

The Padres’ battle for the left field position is between five to six different veteran outfielders. Green has recently said the Padres will not carry six outfielders on the 25-man roster, so something must give.

Hunter Renfroe

Renfroe is 26 and owns a career 1.3 WAR. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 31st round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft from Copiah Academy (Gallman, MS), and the San Diego Padres in the 1st round (13th) of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft from Mississippi State University

Renfroe started 126 games for the Padres in 2017. He struggled against right-handed pitchers and, eventually in August 2017, was demoted to Triple-A El Paso. When the demotion went public, manager Andy Green said the Padres need Renfroe to work on his plate discipline and get on base more consistently.

“He’s got strides to make,” Green said. “If you’re going to have a winning culture here, you have to be willing at times to make tough decisions and send guys down that you like as human beings, that you value as teammates, that you think have a good future with your organization, but at present aren’t quite getting the job done.”

Renfroe finished 2017 playing in 122 games for the Padres, recording a .231/.284/.467 batting line. He hit 26 home runs, 25 doubles, 58 RBI, stole three bases, and put up a .751 OPS. The negative on Renfroe was that he struck out 140 times in 479 plate appearances.

So far this spring training, Renfroe has played in 17 games with a batting line of .250/.294/.583. He has four home runs, 11 RBI, and a .877 OPS, including 12 hits and 12 strikeouts. 2018 projections for Renfroe look ironically close to his 2017 season. With him projected to have 443 plate appearances with a batting line for .249/ .308/.480 with 23 home runs, 23 doubles, 60 RBI, and .788 OPS.

Jose Pirela

The 28-year-old left fielder, second baseman, and first baseman owns a career 1.1 WAR. He signed with the New York Yankees as an international free agent, receiving a $300,000 signing bonus. Pirela made his professional debut with the Yankees in 2007 for the Dominican Summer League Yankees 1. He reached Triple-A for the first time in 2013 for the Bombers. After the season, he played for the Aguilas del Zulia of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. Pirela began the 2014 season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the Triple-A International League. He ended the International League season with a .303 batting average, 10 home runs, 60 RBI, and was named a postseason MiLB All-Star.

In November 2015, the Yankees traded Pirela to the San Diego Padres for minor league pitcher Ronald Herrera. Pirela began the 2016 season with the El Paso Chihuahuas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, and was promoted to the Padres on April 22, 2016. Pirela played in 15 games with the Padres in 2016, making nine starts at second base, and one in right field, before being optioned back to El Paso. Pirela, in June 2016, suffered his second achilles injury after playing in only 35 minor league games on the season.

Pirela started the 2017 season with El Paso, where he batted .331 with 13 home runs. The Padres promoted Pirela to the major leagues in June . Pirela was slotted into left field and impressed with his bat, securing the number three spot in the batting order by August and holding onto the left field position after Opening Day left fielder Travis Jankowski came off the disabled list. Pirela saw his season end in mid-September with an injured finger, but he led the Padres’ regulars in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. In 2017, he was the most improved Padre, and was the Padres’ nominee for the Hank Aaron Award. He finished 2017 with a .288/.347/.490 batting line with 10 home runs in 83 games.

Andy Green: “Jose Pirela Has Outperformed Every Expectation”

Credit: AP Photo

This spring, Pirela has been solid, playing in 15 games with three home runs, two doubles, one triple, eight RBI, a .444/.523/.750 batting line, and 1.273 OPS.

2018 projections for Pirela are questionable. He is projected to have 379 plate appearances with a .265/.324/.444 batting line, 11 home runs, three triples, 22 doubles, 41 RBI, and a .769 OPS.

Franchy Cordero

The 23-year-old outfielder has recorded a career 0.2 WAR.  Cordero signed with the San Diego Padres as an international free agent in November 2011. He made his professional debut in 2012 with the Dominican Summer League Padres.

In 2013, he played for the Arizona League Padres. Cordero started 2014 with the Fort Wayne TinCaps and was demoted to the Eugene Emeralds during the season.

Cordero opened the 2016 season with the Lake Elsinore Storm of the California League. During July of the same season, he was promoted to the San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Texas League.

He began the 2017 season with the El Paso Chihuahuas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The Padres promoted Cordero to the major leagues on May 27, 2017. He made his major league debut that same day.

“He’s here quicker than expected,” manager Andy Green said, “but he’s shown he deserves to be here. He belongs here. He had a great game.”  said Green in June of 2017.

Cordero, in 16 games this spring, has two home runs, one triple, five doubles, six RBI, a .343/.465/.714 batting line, and 1.179 OPS. Cordero left Thursday’s game against the Giants with tightness in his groin. He is listed day-to-day and could resume running on Tuesday.

Projections for Cordero in 2018 aren’t too impressive. In 273 plate appearances Cordero’s batting line is projected to be .243/.286/.399 with eight home runs, 30 RBI, seven stolen bases, and a .685 OPS.


6 thoughts on “The battle over the Padres’ left field job

  1. I’d love to see Myers traded as well, however, they would get nothing for him, and they would likely have to pay a large part of his salary. I know you like Hosmer, but they would have great difficulty trading him as well … and they would not be in this predicament if they had not signed him

    1. Yosemite Sam, thanks for the support on my thought on Myers. I do disagree on if he has value as a trade chip without the Padres covering a portion of his contract. The key to that for me is when you move him. He is owed $77.5 Mil over the last 5 years of his contract, that is a seasonal average of $15.5 Mil. That is very reasonable for a 3 WAR OF. If he was moved by the break this year, his average salery goes to $16.223 Mil for 4.5 years, after this season it goes to $18.25 MIl for 4 seasons. Note the $20 mil he is owed in 2023 is a club option, so I didn’t count that in my calculations. If we wait till after his two cheaper years that ends after 2019 season I believe your point is valid, we will have to cover part of his remaining contract. It will also block both Renfroe and Cordero taking the next step. One or both might be moved, IMO for allot less than Myers could fetch. The next part of this equation, is can Myers have a solid first half this season to increase his value. He historically has better first halves then after. He seems to need others around him in the lineup to improve his results, anyway that is what many people say. I believe that is the oppotunity we have over the first half of 2018. With Hosmer and Headley around him he will have the best lineup protection he has had in the last 18 months when his results have spiraled downward.

      1. A few comps for Myers at corner OF, is Yoenis Céspedes, Jay Bruce, and Andrew McCutchen are ALL in their early 30’s. Myers is ONLY 27 at this point, just entering his prime. On another team he could go back to 1B or to DH if he lands with an AL team.

  2. I like Renfroe and Cordero’s ceiling level long term. No doubt Pirela deserves playing time this year. IMO, we can not have 3 OF’s that ALL hit from the right side once we take that next step to being a contender. I know this thought is one not shared by any of the writers here on this site, but IMO Myers is the weak link here, talent and skills are there but his mental approach holds him back. In addition Myers would yield the biggest return in a trade. I think a Cordero, Margot, Renfroe OF is a Top 5 unit in MLB, one that is capable to put up 12+ WAR combined each season for many years to come. With Cordero and Margot roaming 70% of the OF they will allow Renfroe to cover the rest and reduce any range issues he might have playing in the field.

    1. I don’t think your opinion on Myers is crazy. He did see a sports psychologist this offseason and put on 20 pounds. Renfroe’s still considered a prospect his defense worries me but so does Myers. Cordero is still young and considered a prospect as well, eventually he will work himself into a starting corner outfield position if not this year 2019. One thing a lot of people don’t take into consideration is most of our prospects are under contract for years. But if you look at the Royals for example most of their youth movement all reached the pinnacle at the same time and the Royals couldn’t financially keep the team together. Going over the Prospects in the Padres system the padres have several great outfielders coming up over in the next couple years and the pinnacle wont be within reach for several years. We have amazing 16 to 20 year old kids coming and I really don’t see a need to put guys like Tatis Jr. and Urias up in the big leagues when we’re a couple years away for a serious run. I can’t favor any one outfielder in the article but we have a bottle neck and it may cost the padres one or two of them. Thanks for your opinion and I assure you if I heard or seen a possible trade for Myers that makes sense long-term I will write about it.

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