Who’s on first for the Padres in 2023?

Padres Jake Cronenworth

Credit: AP Photo

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres will need to add a first baseman to the roster for the 2023 season. Let’s take a look at some options. 

The Eric Hosmer era in San Diego is over.

With no clear option at the first base position for the 2023 season, the Padres will need to do something.

Currently, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, and Wil Myers are sharing the position.

However, each is scheduled for free agency at the end of the season. So what will the Padres do? There are no minor league first-base options, either. There is no top prospect at the position in the upper minor league levels ready to take over. The Padres will likely need to make a move.

Here is a look at some possible players who could help fill the void in 2023.

 

In house options

Jake Cronenworth

At the moment, Cronenworth is the odds-on favorite to start at first base for the Padres. He has played 54 games at the position over the last three seasons and owns a .997 fielding percentage. If the team made no significant moves, he would likely be the man at first. However, Cronenworth’s real value lies in the fact he plays second base. As a middle infielder, his offensive prowess is a bonus. However, at first base, you traditionally want a power bat. Jake Cronenworth may play some games at first base in 2023, but the team will clearly explore other options.

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Nola

The Padres starting catcher is capable of playing first base, but this seems like a stretch for the 2023 season. Nola is not producing much with the bat, and like Cronenworth, his value lies at a position that is traditionally weak with the bat. Nola could play first if an emergency happens, but the Padres would not benefit from having him in the lineup on an everyday basis. There needs to be a move made by A.J. Preller.

Kyle Martin

This power-hitting left-handed bat was signed in the early summer out of the Mexican Leagues, and he has produced at the Triple-A level recording a .861 OPS in 202 at-bats with 15 homers. Martin is 29, though, and has no major league service time under his belt. It is a stretch that he will be retained for the 2023 season, but he is currently on the Padres roster in the minors, and anything can happen.

Free-agency

Josh Bell

Of all the free-agent options, Bell will likely earn the most on the open market. Can the Padres afford him, and is there an interest for Bell to return to San Diego? It remains to be seen what the Padres will do, but you do expect the team to negotiate with the switch-hitter. Bell is 30 years old and should not garner a massive contract this winter. Expect him to sign a three or four-year deal (at least) in the neighborhood of the $40-50 million range. With a career .817 OPS and a 121 OPS+, Bell is not a superstar but instead a slightly above-average first baseman in regards to value.

Brandon Drury

The Padres are getting a good look at what Drury brings to a team. He is extremely versatile with the glove and smashes left-handed pitching. The right-handed hitter is 30 years old and enjoyed success early in his career as a Diamondback. Drury then struggled mightily and had to claw his way back into being a major league starter. You would not expect Drury’s cost to be too much on the open market. The Padres can certainly afford to give him a multi-year deal, but is he the answer at first base for the Padres in the long run?

Credit: Getty Images

Wil Myers

The Padres gave Myers the richest contract in the history of the team (at the time) in 2017 after an All-Star season by the infielder/outfielder. The $83 million/six-year deal did not pan out well for the Padres, but Myers has provided some moments for the ballclub. The right-handed hitter battles consistency at the plate, but he has proved to be very versatile, playing third base and center field for the Padres when they asked him. Myers is coming off a down year and will likely land a one-year deal somewhere. The way he plays first base is fun to watch, but Myers would need to take a major pay decrease to return for the 2023 season.

Joey Gallo

A.J. Preller has a connection to Gallo as the former Ranger produced while playing for Texas early in his career. Gallo is a huge power threat from the left side of the plate. However, he is also the most prolific strikeout player in the recent history of the game, and he could arguably be the worst hitter ever when it comes to making contact. Gallo has struck out 1,020 times in 2,311 at-bats. Thankfully Gallo does possess a great eye at the plate, producing 409 walks and a 14.9 percent walk percentage (league average is 8.4). The Padres may show some interest in Gallo, but the price must be right. Plus, Gallo may be one of the biggest benefactors of the shift being banned starting next season.

Jose Abreu

If the Padres can sign this right-handed hitter out of Cuba, it will be a huge upgrade for the club. Abreu will be 36 for the 2023 season, and his prime years are obviously behind him. However, he is capable of being a rock in the middle of the lineup as Abreu owns a career .862 OPS and a 135 OPS+ in his nine major league seasons. Abreu is capable of playing first base, so his addition would not be as a DH. There may be some interest, but the career White Sox player will likely explore all options in returning to Chicago before hitting the open market.

Brandon Belt

The Giants “captain” is a solid left-handed hitter, but he struggles to stay in the lineup because of health. Belt is not aging well, as constant nagging injuries are limiting his playing time for San Francisco. In 2020, he produced a 1.015 OPS and a 177 OPS+ in 51 games for the Giants. There is an ability, but it comes with risk. In the end, the Giants will probably retain Belt for the next season, as he is a strong presence in their locker room.


Trade candidates

Joey Votto

Votto is owed $25 million for next season and has a $7 million buyout for the 2024 season. A total of $32 million for a first baseman who is 39 years old is a risk. The left-handed hitter owns a career .926 OPS and a 145 OPS+ in 16 major league seasons with the Reds. A trade for Votto would be difficult, but if Cincinnati paid some of his salary, you could see how it may work. Votto would extend the Padres lineup and provide a possible hall-of-fame bat to the first base position.

Luke Voit

If the Padres and A.J. Preller are feeling nostalgic, they can attempt to re-acquire Luke Voit. You get a sense that Preller did not want to deal the powerful right-handed hitter, but was not about to let Voit stand in the way of the Padres acquiring Juan Soto. Voit has some value and brings right-handed hitting power to the lineup, but the Nationals would need to be willing to move him. At this point, it looks like the firesale is done in Washington, and the Padres would probably need to overpay to re-acquire Voit.

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James Clark
James was born and raised in America's Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that's our motto. Enjoy.
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TannedTom
TannedTom
4 months ago

Votto has a full no trade and has said he will not approve a trade. Voit is not an everyday 1B. One option you didn’t mention is Anthony Rizzo, as he has an opt-out clause.
Wouldn’t be too surprising if it’s Myers on a 1 year, prove-it deal.

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