The 2016 season is in full swing. Well, at least the Spring Training portion. Positional battles are playing out before our eyes, and 2016 rosters are coming together as we watch.
For the Padres, the story is no different. After a disappointing 2015 season, many new faces are in camp trying to make their presence known in order to earn some of those precious roster spots. Some players are guaranteed spots, such as the Matt Kemps, Wil Myers’, and Tyson Ross’ of the world. Others, such as Jemile Weeks, Adam Rosales, and Jabari Blash are doing everything in their power to prove they deserve a spot of their own.
One player from last year who is an intriguing case in shortstop Alexi Amarista. By now, everyone knows the story. After being the starting shortstop for much of 2015, Amarista now finds himself fighting for a roster spot after the signing of Alexei Ramirez this offseason. As Spring Training trudges on, one question gets more and more important: Will Alexi Amarista actually make the Opening Day roster?
Despite being arguably the worst offensive player in all of baseball last year, at least in terms of those who played at or near full-time, Amarista still probably has the best chance at making the Padres’ 25-man roster.
Given the increasing age and injury concerns that come with Alexei Ramirez, the Padres need a capable player who can come off the bench and play shortstop if necessary. Looking up and down the roster, Amarista appears to be the best candidate. While the team did bring in the likes of Nick Noonan, Jemile Weeks, Adam Rosales, and others to camp, (who are all looked at more in depth in a piece I wrote earlier in the week), Amarista is the only one who has proven he is capable of handling shortstop defensively full-time.
Jemile Weeks has a total of 26 big league innings at shortstop. Nick Noonan has 29 innings at short and Jose Pirela has zero. The most experienced of all those players at shortstop would be Adam Rosales, who has played 500 big league innings at short, with varying results. At the end of the day, Amarista and his 1400 career innings at shortstop may be the best the Padres have. His positional versatility may help him as well, as he is capable of playing second and third in the infield, as well as all three outfield positions.
Amarista will never be a threat at the plate, this much is clear. However, in a utility role, he could be a useful member of the Padres roster. The Padres may be able to get more out of someone like Weeks or Rosales, but Amarista is less of an unknown. In his first year as manager, Andy Green has a lot of decisions to make. The player who will fill out the utility role is just another one of those decisions. At this point, it appears Amarista is the safest bet for that role. For better, or for worse.