With the San Diego Padres still several years away from competing, there are a couple of players that should be of interest to them heading into 2018. These players could potentially help establish that elusive “winning culture” that San Diegans are clamoring for.
There are a plethora of names being discussed as future pieces for the next great Padre team. Fernando Tatis Jr., Hudson Potts, and Luis Urias are just a few of the prospects that could potentially lead the team to a level of success not seen in decades. Unfortunately, these players are young and have years of development left in front of them.
There are, however, two free agents that will be available after the 2017 season that are, if nothing else, interesting.
Zack Cozart is having a career year, receiving his first MLB all-star nod in 2017, and would be a great fit for the Padres at shortstop. The Friars have been without a quality shortstop since the departure of Everth Cabrera, and having Cozart for two or three seasons would be an ideal fit until one of the young prospects are ready to take over the position. Those chosen to play shortstop over the past two seasons have not offered any sort of promise or consistent production.
Placing Cozart in the middle of the Padres’ order will immediately give them a much-needed offensive boost from the shortstop position. Cozart will turn 32 next year, so making him a long-term solution at a position with a fair amount of organizational depth wouldn’t make much sense. He’s hitting .302 with 23 home runs, so he may be in line for a massive contract with a big-market team to end his career. His defense, while not flashy, is solid and usually dependable. Cozart has played in Cincinnati which is a huge offensive upgrade over the cavernous Petco Park, but he’s been consistent enough to warrant an opportunity to become the veteran presence this Padre team so desperately needs.
Assuming the Padres trade Yangervis Solarte in the offseason, there will soon be a significant loss of power in this San Diego lineup.
The Padres have been a very right-handed-heavy team for the past few years. This has led to them being susceptible to right-handed pitchers and easy for opposing teams to plan for. Solarte has been a solid player for the Padres, but he needs help in the middle of the lineup if he stays with the team. With the next great Padres team still a couple of years away, Mike Moustakas would be another great addition for the Friars in 2018.
Moustakas has shown impressive power this year and could prove to be a headache for pitchers in the N.L. West. The combo of Myers and Moustakas alone could be one of the more formidable matchups for pitchers in the entire National League. Moustakas is currently hitting .271 with 38 home runs. He also has an above-average 32% hard contact rate. This would be a huge offensive upgrade over Solarte and would immediately make San Diego’s offense a serious threat. Known as a pitcher’s park, Petco actually profiles very well for left-handed power, which should help Moustakas significantly.
Soon to be 29, Moustakas is young enough to be a part of the Padres’ future. However, if management is confident enough in their minor league system, they could potentially sign him to a two or three-year deal to bridge the gap until the younger talent arrives.
These moves would only happen if the Padres felt they could potentially contend for an N.L.Wild Card spot in 2018. General Manager A.J. Preller still may wish to tank for another year to ensure the strength of the minor league system. If not, the Padres may find themselves trying their luck in the free agent market to get their playoff hopes started a year earlier than anticipated.