The Padres’ center field options for 2024

Credit: KBO

The short URL of the present article is:
Spread the love
Credit: A.P. Photo

Contrary to what most think, the Padres do have money to spend on the open market.

Their payroll is at around $150 million for the 2024 season, and most reports indicate they will come in around the $200 million mark when all is said and done.

That gives the team some flexibility, but will they spend most of their money on a center fielder? We will see.


Jung Hoo Lee

This makes perfect sense for the Padres for so many reasons. Lee is young (25) and could be attained at a decent rate for multiple years. There is some risk as the KBO All-Star will need to get familiar with life in the States and the better pitching he will undoubtedly face. There are some reports Lee struggled against higher velocities, but it is hard to assess the situation until he faces major league pitching regularly.

Ha-Seong Kim is a good friend of Lee’s and will help him prepare for major league life. The Padres can use his left-handed bat and his ability to get on base. Lee does not bring much power to the field but does sport a high baseball I.Q. The Padres are reportedly one of the finalists for Lee’s services. The Korean superstar was posted this week and should sign fairly soon. It may be with the Padres.

Cody Bellinger

This is a pipe dream for all extensive purposes. Bellinger is sure to command a hefty price, and the Padres have too many holes to fill to give a huge portion of their money to one player. There are no reports between the two sides, but the Padres may kick the tires on the former Dodger. Bellinger played a lot of center last year for the Cubs but is likely not a long-term answer at the position.

Credit: Getty Images

There is risk with Bellinger, too. He ended his tenure with the Dodgers with two miserable seasons. The left-handed slugger put up a .542 and .654 OPS only two years after winning an N.L. MVP. He looked much better last season, but his numbers were still not close to his 2019 MVP season. The risk isn’t worth the reward if you are the Padres. They have too many other positions to fill this winter.

Harrison Bader

The Padres are linked to this right-handed hitter who played last season with the Yankees. Bader is considered a plus defender but does not possess a superb bat. Last season, Bader put up a .622 OPS in 98 games and 319 at-bats between the Reds and Yankees. Bader does have speed and stole 20 bases last year. The 30-year-old has never really played at an everyday level since his early years with the Cardinals.

Bader would give the Padres a great defender, but the team would need a left-handed option to go along with him. There are whispers that the Padres want Bader to possibly back up and platoon with Jung Hoo Lee. The cost for Bader is questionable. He made $5.2 million last year, and that would be too much for the Padres. If they can secure him at a decent rate and land a left-handed hitting partner to team with him, he makes sense to a certain degree.

Travis Jankowski

A reunion with Jankowski would be fantastic for the fans, as the left-handed hitter was a favorite in San Diego. Last season, Jankowski won a World Series title with the Texas Rangers. He played an important role with the team as Adolis Garcia was hurt during the season and in the playoffs. Jankowski stepped right in and produced a .689 OPS in 107 games with the Rangers.

Jankowski played left field mostly last season. He has the speed and range to play center, but his arm is a little suspect to be an option in center field moving forward. The Padres may consider the former Friar, but only if they had other options to produce offensively in the outfield. Jankowski made $1.25 million last season and could get a decent raise. We will see what the market dictates for this 33-year-old outfielder.

I'd like this amount to  

Aaron Hicks

Hicks had some impressive years with New York but has struggled to stay healthy. He played in 93 games last season, producing a .253/.353/.383 slash line in 269 at-bats at the major league level. The 34-year-old played 276 innings in center last season and still has ability. The switch-hitter ended his season with the Orioles and produced a .806 OPS for Baltimore.

Credit: N.Y. Post

The Padres would not expect Hicks to play an entire season, given his track record. That would likely be a problem. There is some upside with his bat, but his age is concerning. Hicks is due over $20 million for the next three seasons, but New York will pay the balance of his contract after they released him in May. He will make the league minimum for anyone who signs him, and that is enticing.

Michael A. Taylor

At 32, Taylor is getting up there in age. The right-handed hitter is still considered one of the best defenders in the game, though. Taylor has always had issues with the bat, and that will never change. If a team wants plus defense with a few stolen bases, then he is your man. Last season, Taylor put up a .720 OPS, which was way higher than his norm. He showed surprising power, slugging 21 homers for the Twins.

The Padres will need offensive help, and Taylor just isn’t that guy. The team could use him as a fourth outfielder, but he should not start every day. He made $4.5 million last season, and that alone would probably take him off the radar for the Padres. He just isn’t worth that type of salary.

Kevin Kiermaier

This left-handed hitter is a plus defender with minimal bat skills. Kiermaier looked like a blossoming superstar in his early years in Tampa, but he has struggled with health and just cannot get on base. The outfielder is still a plus defender but is showing some signs of slowing down at the age of 33.

The Padres could use Kiermaier as a defensive replacement, but they would need an offensive force to start in center. Kiermaier made a whopping nine million dollars last season, and that is way over his production value. The veteran will take a pay decrease this season and will likely only land a one-year deal. The Padres may kick the tires, but it will come down to cost for Kiermaier.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *