The San Diego Padres are currently attempting to balance their lineup. Here are a couple of options as the Padres look to become more left-handed in the coming seasons.
Balance is an essential factor in the game of baseball.
The San Diego Padres appear to be consumed with the thought that the team requires more left-handed bats in the lineup. Not a horrible feeling, as the nucleus of young players and established veterans on the team, are right-handed hitters. With the infield roster pretty much set, the natural fit seems to be for the Padres to add a left-handed hitting outfielder.
In recent months, the team claimed Nick Martini off of waivers from the Oakland Athletics and also traded popular outfielder Franmil Reyes in a three-team trade that landed the franchise a high-upside prospect in Taylor Trammell, who is a left-handed hitting centerfielder. The Padres also gave Josh Naylor plenty of at-bats during a pivotal point in the 2019 season. There is no doubt that the team craves more balance.
Here is a look at two options for the Padres in the outfield, as they are surely going to be active in the trade front this winter.
The New York Mets will not be inclined to deal Conforto, but these two sides have talked trade for the last year or so for different players. Conforto is coming off a great year in which he put up a .257/.363/.494 slash line with a .856 OPS and a 3.5 WAR in 151 games. Despite the low average, Conforto gets on base and shows plenty of power from the left side of the plate. He has smashed 88 homers in the last three years for the Mets. His career hitting line of .253/.353/.481 indicates that he will get on base at a decent clip as well. He would certainly help balance out the Padres’ lineup.
There are some outfield concerns with the 26-year-old when you look at his defensive metrics. However, those numbers may be skewed a little bit because of the Mets’ propensity to put him in centerfield, which they have done quite often. Conforto can play the position but is more of a natural fit in a corner outfield spot. He does not have terrific speed but does get decent jumps on the ball off the bat. The left-handed swinger has had issues hitting left-handed pitching in the past, but that is not a huge concern. He has two years of control before hitting free agency in 2022 and would be an attractive acquisition. But would the Mets part with the slugger?
The Padres could package a Franchy Cordero type outfielder and a few prospects to make a run at a deal, but it would probably cost a significant young prospect like Luis Urias to pry Conforto from the Mets’ hands. The Padres could entice the Mets with young major league caliber pitching (Joey Lucchesi/Eric Lauer), but it remains to be seen if that is what New York will be seeking this winter. They are committed to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman at the top of the rotation and shouldn’t necessarily need pitching unless they elect to move Syndergaard. The price tag for Conforto would be steep, and it would likely include a mix of established players and high-profile prospects. The Mets are built to win now and would not trade him just for the sake of making a trade. This is a far-fetched idea, but the Padres do have the resources to get a deal done if they value Conforto enough.
This June, the Rangers’ slugging outfielder Nomar Mazar hit a 505-foot home run. The blast tied Trevor Story of the Rockies for the longest measured homer in the Statcast era. There is no doubt that Mazara has plenty of power, but he is far from a polished player. The left-handed-hitting outfielder owns a career .261/.320/.434 slash line with a .786 OPS in his four-year career. He has played in over 530 games and recorded over 1,900 at-bats at the major league level. In 2019, Mazara played in 116 games for Texas and put up a .268/.318/.469 batting line, which resulted in a .786 OPS and a 0.7 WAR. There is plenty of offensive potential with the outfielder.
At the age of 24, there is a lot to like about the upside of Mazara. You have to think that he has yet to reach his ceiling in the major leagues. There is no foot speed with Mazara, and he has some issues in the outfield with his defense as well. Youth is on his side, though, and there is no reason he cannot improve in those areas with a lot of hard work. The Dominican outfielder is not due for free agency until after the 2021 season. That gives the team two years of control over him before he hits the free-agent market.
The Rangers have a pitching need that the Padres could satisfy, but dealing Luis Patino for Mazara would be extremely risky. Two years of service time is helpful for the soon to be 25-year-old outfielder, but in all reality, his best years will be after he signs his next contract. Patino may be a steep asking price, but the Rangers will not back down. If the Padres like Mazara, they could make a serious run as the Rangers are very familiar with the Padres’ group of talented young players. The Padres could also give Texas an established starter like Joey Lucchesi of Eric Lauer if the Rangers need more immediate help. These two teams match well, but the familiarity with each other’s system may be the downfall of a potential deal. Mazara does make sense, though, and the Rangers do seem poised to make a trade or two. Stay tuned.
One way or another, we know that the San Diego Padres will make a few trades this winter. A left-handed-hitting outfielder makes sense on so many levels. It may not be these two men, but the Padres will surely add a left-handed hitter or two to the roster in the next couple of months. Keep an eye out for the Padres as young G.M. A.J. Preller is currently on the prowl.