The Entire Padres Bullpen
A source of significant depth not only at the big league level, but throughout the farm system, the bullpen could look dramatically different come September. The top four arms anchoring the ‘pen, Brandon Maurer, Carter Capps, Brad Hand, and Ryan Buchter all figure to get looks from teams needing back-of-the-bullpen help late in the season. With some exciting relief arms in the upper tiers of the Padres’ minor leagues, like Jose Torres, Kyle McGrath, Brad Wieck, Jason Jester, Phil Maton, Jose Castillo, among others, the Friars will have no shortage of potential difference makers heading into 2018 and beyond, and will have plenty of flexibility to capitalize on their bullpen depth.
While not a veteran like those mentioned above, the Padres caught lightning in a bottle last season with Schimpf, signing him in the off-season as a minor league free agent. He burst on the scene with some impressive power numbers, as the 5’9” second baseman out of LSU, who can also play third and both corner outfield positions, amazingly had 42 extra base hits, including 20 long balls, compared to just 18 singles in 276 at bats. While he hit only .217 and struck out at a 32% clip, he still produced more than expected in 2017. One hindrance to his trade value, however, is that Cory Spangenberg, last year’s opening day starter, has impressed this spring after a thigh injury derailed his season and he ended up playing in only 14 games in 2016. If Spangenberg wins the second base job out of camp, Schimpf may not get enough consistent at bats to prove to other teams that last season’s production in a small sample size was not a fluke.
Also a youngster in just his third season at the major league level, Jankowski saw significant action in center field last season, slashing .245/.332/.313 with 30 stolen bases in 335 at bats. But with the emergence of Manuel Margot and the potential of him becoming the starting center fielder of the future, Jankowski could be more valuable in bringing young pitching or shortstop talent to the Padres. In fact, Jankowski has already been mentioned in trade talks this past off-season in a deal that would have brought Tigers shortstop, Jose Iglesias, to San Diego, but that never materialized. There is a possibility A.J. Preller could keep Margot down in Triple-A to start the season to save another year of team control, meaning they would need Jankowski in center to start the season. Also, with Alex Dickerson’s spring back troubles preventing him from being ready for the season opener, it seems there will be no imminent moves until Dickerson proves he is healthy. As it stands, Jankowski figures to begin the year in left or center until more depth in the outfield at the big league level can be established. Don’t be surprised if we see Jabari Blash starting in left field to face lefty Clayton Kershaw on opening day.
Naylor does not fit the mold of other trade candidates as he is still only 19 and will start the season either in high Single-A Lake Elsinore or Double-A San Antonio. But the first baseman, acquired last season in the deal that sent Andrew Cashner to the Marlins, is described as having plus-plus power and a future middle-of-the-order bat. But with Wil Myers firmly entrenched at first base after signing a six-year deal in the off-season and playing Gold Glove caliber defense, there doesn’t figure to be an opening there any time soon. Myers is unlikely to make another position change back to the outfield at this point. Naylor will be stuck at first considering his reported average defense, and could be a target for a team looking for a young, power-hitting first baseman or an American League team grooming him to be a DH of the future. Naylor could bring in the biggest haul of all trade candidates if he continues to progress at the plate and improve his pitch selection.
A.J. Preller is no stranger to swinging deals, and this year’s trade deadline figures to be another busy one for the Padres’ front office.