Here is a look at the San Diego Padres present 40-man issues regarding the Rule-5 draft.
Now that the season has come to an end and San Diego Padres fans had to watch the rival Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series, we look ahead to the 2021 season.
General manager A.J. Preller has his hands full, setting the 40-man roster while deciding which players to protect from the upcoming Rule-5 draft. The Padres roster is overflowing with talent, which means more than a couple of good players could be lost this season.
The 40-man roster deadline requires all qualified players to be on the roster without any players on the injured list.
The Padres ended the season with 44 players on the roster. However, contracts for several players have expired. Those include Garrett Richards, Kirby Yates, Jason Castro, Jurickson Profar, and Trevor Rosenthal. Meanwhile, Mitch Moreland has a club option. Assuming the Padres pick up that option, 39 men are on the roster for the upcoming deadline, so there is no immediate danger of losing any players.
However, many players need protection from the Rule-5 draft, and the team is also likely to sign one or more free agents this offseason.
Any player that was signed during the massive 2016 international class will need protection from the Rule-5 draft. Many of these players were recently traded away, such as Gabriel Arias, to the Cleveland Indians. A few are already on the roster, such as Luis Patino and Adrian Morejon.
Tucupita Marcano will probably need to be protected. Even though he did not command a high bonus, the Venezuelan has developed into a high ceiling prospect. He shows an advanced hit tool with little power. However, his 6-foot frame could add some bulk, and power could develop as he grows into his body. Marcano’s defense is good enough to stay at shortstop, but average arm strength and a player named Fernando Tatis Jr.could force him to second base. Even if he ends up a second baseman, many teams would love a prospect like Marcano.
The other players that could be selected are Tirso Ornelas, Esteury Ruiz, Eugy Rosario, Lake Bachar, and Jordy Barley. All show definite upside but don’t figure to be able to justify a spot on either the Padres 40-man roster or another team’s 26-man roster. None of these players were invited to the Padres’ alternate site this past season, which is telling. Although you never know what some GMs are thinking.
Even after the Rule-5 draft, the Padres will add players to the team via free agency and trade. The team has needs at closer, backup catcher, and possibly a fourth outfielder. The lineup is mostly set with all starters returning. This means the Padres will be forced to trade or release several players currently on the 40-man roster.
Let’s take a look at the players most likely to be moved soon by the Padres.
Having pitched just under 300 innings, the left-hander will be an intriguing arm for opposing GMs. The prospects that are ready to contribute in 2021 have higher ceilings than Lucchesi. However, just because a pitcher is not as talented as Mackenzie Gore or Adrian Morejon doesn’t mean they have no value. Lucchesi is a good pitcher and deserves a shot at making a starting rotation.
When the Padres needed an extra catcher that could hit well at the end of the season, they did not call up Francisco Mejia. This is a sign the Padres are ready to move on from him. The closer Luis Campusano is to the majors, the more expendable Mejia is becoming. He’s still a bat-first catcher that may need to switch positions. The potential he has cannot be ignored, but his ship may have sailed in San Diego.
Right-hander David Bednar was on the 30-man roster to begin the 2020 season, but was not used often. Bednar may be another victim of the overflow of talent already on the roster. With multiple years of control, the Padres could get a decent return for Bednar via trade.
If flamethrower Javy Guerra can improve his control, the former shortstop has a closer-level ability. Throwing over 100 mph and possessing a swing and miss slider, he has a very high ceiling. However, he’s failed to deliver consistently. His lack of minor league options puts the Padres in a bit of a bind. If a sufficient enough offer is made for Guerra, you can expect Guerra to be traded.
A left-handed specialist has certainly been devalued with the three batter minimum rule. Tim Hill had a pedestrian 4.50 ERA for 2020, which is in line with his 4.18 career ERA in the majors. With the return of Jose Castillo, the need for Hill is minimal.
Just like Javy Guerra, Jorge Mateo is out of minor league options. His speed is elite, but his bat skills and defense are a work in progress. The Padres didn’t use him all that often in 2020. They may find that a pinch runner isn’t worth taking up a spot on the 26 man roster.
Utility man Greg Garcia is potentially a roster casualty. Garcia doesn’t possess any elite attributes, yet does everything well. He plays multiple positions and doesn’t swing at many pitches outside the zone. He fits well on this team. However, A.J. Preller may look for a slightly cheaper upgrade.
The defensive specialist Greg Allen came to the Padres from the Cleveland Indians along with Mike Clevinger. He is fast and plays an outstanding outfield defense but lacks consistency offensively. The Padres have not put much value into defense, only players having traded away Manny Margot and Austin Hedges last season. Expect that trend to continue.
Any of the players that are Rule-5 eligible may very well be traded before the deadline as well.
The 40-man roster deadline may come and go without any major surprises, but this offseason will see many transactions as the year goes moves forward.
Not only will A.J. Preller and team be focused on the usual Rule-5 draft and free agency period, but the international signing period will also open in January after being pushed back due to COVID-19 restrictions. One thing is for sure; the Padres’ front office will be very busy this offseason.