Uncertainty in Padres’ outfield for 2020

(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training is coming, but the San Diego Padres’ outfield picture is still unclear. 

For days, trade rumors have swirled around regarding the San Diego Padres interest in trading for Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts. Rumors indicate talks have stalled over how much of potential trade candidate Wil Myers’ salary the Red Sox would be willing to take on.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles Dodgers have swooped into the void in an attempt to acquire Betts. Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations, has ties to Chaim Bloom (who occupies that position for the Red Sox)  as he hired him during his years with the Tampa Bay Rays. As an interesting side note, Friedman acquired Myers from the Kansas City Royals during his tenure with the Rays.

At this point, the Padre’s depth chart for the outfield lists multiple players, and the numbers will need to be winnowed before the season starts in late March. None come close to matching Betts’ talent.

Voted the Most Valuable Player in the American League in 2018, Betts’ 42.0 WAR leaves any current Padre outfielder in the dust, as does his OPS+ of 135 last year. According to Statcast’s Outs Above Average for outfielders, his numbers have decreased (2017 18, 2018 12, 2019 7), but no current Padre comes close.

However, two placed in the top 92 on baseballsavant.com’s leaderboard, according to OAA for outfielders: Manuel Margot #7 with 11 and Myers #41 with 2. Margot, as well as Myers, has been mentioned in the trade rumors.

By comparison, Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals heads the leaderboard with 23 OAA. Hunter Renfroe, who was traded this offseason to the Rays for Pham, ranked 24th with 6 OAA (2.6 WAR), a vast improvement over his prior performance. Longtime Padre Travis Jankowski, who was let go by San Diego and signed with the Cincinnati Reds, leads all current Padres except Margot with 8 OAA with 8 in 2016 and 7 in 2018.  In other words, both Renfroe and Jankowski would be defensive upgrades over every San Diego outfielder on the Padres’ roster except Margot.

At this point in time, the Dodgers appear to have the upper hand in the Betts’ sweepstakes, which leaves the Padres with these outfielders as spring training approaches.

Current Left Fielders

Tommy Pham -11 OAA, 3.7 WAR, 119 OPS+ (career 126)

Wil Myers 2 OAA, -0.3 WAR, OPS+ 95 (career 107)

Josh Naylor -7 OAA, 0.1 WAR, OPS+ 90

Current Center Fielders

Margot 11 OAA, 1.8 WAR, OPS+ 83 (career 87)

Trent Grisham 5 OAA, 0.7 WAR, OPS+ 90

Franchy Cordero 4 OAA (2017), -2 OAA (2019), 0.2 WAR,  OPS+ 99

Current Right Fielders

Myers, Naylor, Cordero Grisham (see above)

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Of the current Padres outfielders, only Pham has an OPS+ above average, but his fielding leaves much to be desired. Naylor, who would be better suited to first base, would also be a detriment in the outfield. Cordero has been bedeviled by injuries and cannot be counted on to stay on the field.

The ownership group has indicated that their collective patience with the “process” has worn thin. While the return of Fernando Tatis Jr. from injury inspires hope, as does the prospect of a more comfortable Manny Machado and a Chris Paddack free of training wheels, the outfield as a group is cause for concern.  Minor leaguers Taylor Trammell, Jorge Ona, and Edward Olivares could be a factor and, with the exception of Ona, would upgrade the outfield defensively and may make the big club at some point this season.

However, losing Mookie Betts to the Dodgers would hurt the cause. It would be especially galling if the prized outfielder could have ended up in San Diego if Preller hadn’t demanded that the Red Sox pay most of Myers’ salary.

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12 thoughts on “Uncertainty in Padres’ outfield for 2020

  1. Well, I’ve figured it all out! Know why Preller is still employed with the Padres? Because BOTH Fowler and Seidler are too arrogant to admit THEY made a mistake in not only approving Mike Dee giving Preller the job 6 years ago, but in keeping the totally, inept AJ Preller as their GM. “Arrogance” is a strange bedfellow and baseball owners are no different from other owners of teams and businesses. They simply don’t want to imagine that THEY made a horrible mistake. So instead of firing Preller – as they should have when MLB caught him cheating and suspended him, they don’t want to admit the error of their ways. When Padres fans and writers (NOT Diane though) say Preller needs to do this or that, you’re forgetting one, basic fact. NO ONE TRUSTS PRELLER! And that includes most all of the opposing MLB teams and GM’s. That’s why the Padres are one, gigantic mess of a team and orgainzation.

  2. AJ should stay firm on a deal that has Boston take Myers and vast majority of his contract with a package that’s been rumored, something like Naylor/Margot and Quantrill/Luchessi.

    The Red Sox have less leverage than their fans believe, since it’s all but certain Betts will test his value in free agency. If the Red Sox are hovering around .500 come June, not living up to expectations, they’ll be in an even more desperate situation, whether to deal him and get something rather than flame out and get nothing when he walks away…

    Say the trade does not happen and Betts is in Boston to start the season.

    Boston does well in first half (keeping up with the Yankees): they will hold on to Betts and make another WS run, risking a loss in the postseason and losing Betts, getting nothing in return.
    Boston battling Tampa and maybe Toronto in a scrum, 8+ games behind the Yankees: Whether or not this team is above or below .500, if they’re obviously not in the Yankees’ class, and if it will be a close fight for a WC with multiple teams in and out of your division, the smart thing to do is get something, anything, for Betts. However, they are then backed into a corner and have even less leverage than they do now, praying that some team pays their best (and only top-100) prospect out of desperation. Maybe that happens, or maybe they get a slightly-better version of what AZ traded for Marte a while back. Myers, Naylor, Quantrill, and tier-2 prospect looks good compared to this scenario.

    Consider this as well: Betts may not want to play in Boston anymore. He turned down a 10 year, $300million extension. The subject of this, “will-they, won’t-they” trade will be a distraction all spring. Maybe there is more happening behind closed doors that is putting additional pressure on the front office to move sooner rather than later.

    Which is why I want Preller to stand pat with a Myers package I said at the top. He’s in a good position, just don’t blink. The team as is is an improvement from last season. A winning % at .500 at June will be well-received. Maybe then, this trade for Mookie will make more sense for both sides.

    1. Hello Kyle,
      Thanks for your input. Apparently the Dodgers are still in the hunt for Betts, so all this may be a moot point. At this point, Myers needs to have a fresh start as his tenure with the Padres has been a mess (partly his fault, but mostly the front office’s). If only the Padres had waited to give him a big extension, kept him at first and not signed Hosmer…

  3. The OF situation reflects a clear lack of vision from the front office. And the thought of playing Pham and Naylor in the OF at the same time should give every Padres fan (and pitcher) the jitters. As for the Betts trade, do it. Preller has no concept of how to utilize Myers, so it’s best to ship him and save whatever part of his salary can be saved.
    If the Padres really want to make a bold move you package Myers, Naylor (who is not an OF), Lucchesi and a top 10 prospect for Betts and Price. For 2020 this would be quite a jolt to the payroll, adding some $37 mil. But Betts will bring a 1st round draft pick when he leaves, and Price is tradeable after the club pays some of his salary.

    1. Hi Tom,
      I always appreciate your input. In my opinion, the outfield situation does indicate a lack of vision, planning, whatever you want to call it. Also concerning is the emphasis on offense over defense. Good teams have a balance.
      Myers needs to be moved for his sake even more than the Padres. The Padres should try to make some kind of deal if only to keep the Dodgers from getting Betts.

  4. I will be glad if this trade does not happen.
    The idea of trading Myers and paying 10 million for him to play for the Sox is nuts. He would probably become comeback player of the year. Then you want to give up Naylor who is a potential 30 home run and high on base guy and Cal. We need depth in the rotation to contend. Also a prospect?
    All this for a one year rental. Dumb!

    1. Hi Gary,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. The idea of giving Myers that extension was nuts. However, it’s ludicrous to keep him around if he’s just going to be a spare part. Naylor may get on base and hit bombs, but he is a huge liability in the outfield. Still, a trade for a player he caliber of Betts may be a year too soon.
      At least it’s never boring to be a Padres fan…

  5. Dumping/trading Myers now would be a huge mistake (not that he is invaluable or anything like that). A year from now, however, his contract will be much more movable (including paying off part of it) and there is a strong likelihood he will improve his own value (if the Padres gave him consistency).

    If he played 1B against lefties, and some games against righties at 1B (to spare us of Hosmer on defense and offense), and often played RF, and even a little in CF (if/when need be) then he could potentially get back on track (even a 30/30, 3+WAR year) and boost his value greatly.

    However, his fragile psyche has likely been further damaged due to all the trade talk, and the Padres are not committed yet to playing the best players (Hosmer as exhibit A), so this is not likely to happen.

    This is not the year for the Padres!! They might be competitive, they could even squeak into contention and the WC, but focus on 2021 and beyond!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hello Tommy,
      Your thoughts are always welcome. If the Padres hang on to Myers I think your approach makes sense, except I would NEVER put him in center again. His psyche is undoubtedly damaged, but that’s on the Padres. Since Preller traded for him, the team has handled him badly except at the beginning
      This year the focus has to be getting to .500 or above, as it’s delusional to think this team is ready to even make a wild card spot.

  6. Preller created this mess… it’s truly his mess. He’s backed himself into a corner and all the other teams know that. We’ll need to deal some of our outfielders which will include paying Myers salary for him to play elsewhere. More Preller mistakes that we will live with for years still. We’ll deal Myers to some club, pay them 15M Er year to take him from us and in return… we will get a bag of chips and a soda. Nice job AJ!

    I hope we have options on a few of these players. If not, we’ll be stocking up on chips and soda because AJ isn’t known for his wheeling and dealing.

    I hope some of these guys start producing regularly. Maybe a new manager and clubhouse vibe will help. I still believe Myers play was a result of Green, AJ, trade rumors, and negative press on him. I’m hoping he bounces back and gets on track. If not for us directly, then for himself and his trade value. Honestly, I’d love to see Myers become a star elsewhere and further expose Preller’s ineptness.

    Preller needs someone to oversee his decisions. He’s better suited as an asst GM. While I like the farm system, we’ve put a ton of money into it and our international players. The higher the quantity, the more likely you are to hit on some prospects. He’s certainly had some expensive flops there too.

    I think Marte would have been a good addition and we could have subtracted two of our outfielders (Margot and Naylor) along with a couple of lower prospects equal to or better than they got from AZ.

    1. Yes, AJ’s mess. He created this through a series of flagrant blunders, yet he still keeps his job, and still has the reigns so that he can further damage the team.

      There should be a page on this, or another, website that keeps a running track of how many millions of dollars AJ has paid, and is paying, to players to not play for the Padres, and/or to play against the Padres. Who does that? Who does that and keeps their job? Myers would simply be added to the list. Hosmer, if we could be so lucky, will be added to that list. Machado potentially could be as well (in 5 to 8 years from now).

      The Owners have enabled Preller’s foolish and destructive ways. Not only does he receive no consequences for making some of the worst decisions in baseball management in the last few decades, he is given even more power going forward!

    2. Hello Tony,
      Indeed Preller created this mess. We can only hope a new manager will pull this group together and get them playing solid baseball on both sides of the ball. Expecting a rookie manager to that is, however, a big ask.
      Preller has such an eye for minor league talent, wouldn’t he be better suited as head of scouting? The front office has made it clear that he’s on the clock, which will make for a very interesting season.
      Thanks for your input,

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