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)
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.