The Padres’ center field options for 2024

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The Padres have several players and prospects who could be used to acquire a center fielder.

Despite what you read, the Padres farm system is starting to cultivate talent. There are also players like Jake Cronenworth who may be attractive to other teams.

We all know A.J. Preller is not shy when it comes to trades. This may be the best way for the Padres to get what they want this winter.


Luis Robert

This 26-year-old outfielder enjoyed his best season at the major league level last season. Health issues limited Robert for the first three seasons of his career, but he broke out last year, recording a .857 OPS and slugging 38 homers. The White Sox locked up Robert to a team-friendly deal and he is due $27.5 million for the next two seasons before two consecutive team options kick in at $20 million per season. Four years of control of Robert at $67.5 million is a great deal.

There are questions about whether he will stick in center field, though he did an adequate job last season. The right-handed hitter is an offensive force, and all you need from him is average defense. The Padres would be surely interested, but the White Sox are saying that they will not move the outfielder. His name came up in trade talks early this winter, but things have apparently changed as the Sox recognize his value. It would take a lot to get him from Chicago, but the Padres do have the roster and prospects capable of paying a hefty price tag.

Manuel Margot

Margot makes sense, as he is a very good defender who is familiar with Petco Park. The Rays are apparently shopping the right-handed hitter, as he is in the last year of his contract before possibly hitting free agency next winter. The Dominican native put up a .686 OPS in 99 games and 311 at-bats last season. Margot has never really been positive with the bat, as he is a career .694 OPS hitter who is always around that mark. His only consistency is that he is a sub .700 OPS player.

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Margot is due $10 million for the 2023 season, and that would be a lot for the Padres. He owns a $12 option for the 2025 season with a $2 million buyout. The Padres would need to acquire Margot in a package deal with more enticing players. At this point, he wouldn’t be a viable trade candidate for the Friars.

Dylan Carlson

Carlson looked like he was going to break out after a solid 2021 season, but it never happened. Injuries decimated his 2023 season as an ankle injury lingered from 2022, and he also had an oblique strain. Carlson put up a .651 OPS last season in 76 games and 219 at-bats with the Cardinals. The switch-hitter has some issues making contact, but at the age of 25, could make the proper adjustments to be better.

The Cardinals have excess outfielders, and Carlson may be attainable for the right price. The native of California is not due for free agency until the 2027 season, and that has value in itself. A young, team-controlled player would be an awesome addition to the Padres. Carlson produced a .780 OPS in 2021 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs. This would be a terrific acquisition by the Padres, but there is some risk.

Max Kepler

In the last year of his contract, Kepler could be a decent pickup for the Padres. The left-handed hitter has not played much center recently, but he is capable of playing the position if needed. Last season, Kepler recorded a .816 OPS in 130 games and 438 at-bats with the Twins. That was his best year since 2019, when he put up a .855 OPS and slugged 36 homers. There is real power potential for Kepler, who slammed 24 bombs last season.

The Padres would need to pay a reasonable price for Kepler. He is due $10 million for the 2024 season, but there is potential for him to have a great year heading into a contract season. There are some health concerns with Kepler, who has missed time over the years for various reasons. He struggles against left-handed pitching, so the Padres would want a right-handed option to back him up if he were to be acquired to play every day in center. The Padres and Twins have matched up before on trades, so there is potential here.

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Jazz Chisholm

If the Padres are looking for swag, Jazz Chisholm is your man. The left-handed hitter from the Bahamas is a fiery player who just can’t seem to stay healthy. Chisholm has plus speed and started his career as a second baseman. His move to the outfield is fairly new, but he looks capable in center. Offensively, Chisholm has issues making contact consistently. He has struck out 348 times in 1,085 at-bats at the major league level. That will not cut it.

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The Marlins may want to move on from Chisholm, as he still has some value. The inconsistency with the bat is maddening to watch. The soon-to-be 26-year-old outfielder is not due for free agency until 2027, so he has a lot of team control left. The Padres could meet the asking price, but only if they are positive Chisholm can manage center field for the time being. The last thing the Padres need is another infielder.

Jo Adell

The Angels have Mike Trout in center field. Jo Adell was highly regarded when drafted in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of a high school in Kentucky. The right-handed hitter is very toolsy but is struggling to make contact and has yet to stick in the major leagues. Adell owns 219 strikeouts in 580 career at-bats at the major league level. In that time, Adell has put up a .625 OPS and slugged 18 homers. The 24-year-old spent the majority of last season at the Triple-A level, where he put up a .961 OPS.

Defensively, there is no reason why Adell is not capable of playing center field for the Padres. He has lost some of his prospect luster, but given his age, a change of scenery may do him well. The Angels would not require a huge haul for Adell, though I wouldn’t expect him to be just given away, either. The right-handed hitter is not due for free agency until the 2028 season. There is potential in his game, but the Padres will need to give fruitful players to get a deal done. Anything can happen when A.J. Preller is your G.M.

Jake Meyers

Meyers is a very good defender with troublesome bat-to-ball skills. That sound familiar? That is the typical profile for the center field position. The Astros utilized Meyers in center, where he grades as one of the best defenders in the game. The right-handed hitter recorded a .678 OPS last season in 112 games and 309 at-bats. He produced a 1.6 WAR, and more than half of the value came from his glovework.

The Astros have Meyers under contract through the 2027 season, so there is decent value with the 27-year-old. He will make the league minimum this season and is not due for arbitration until the 2025 season. The Padres could wrangle him away from Houston with a decent prospect haul, but is Meyers an everyday player? That really remains to be seen.

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