The Padres’ difficulty in finding even an average MLB shortstop has been well-documented in recent years. It seems like it has been a haunted position for the Padres for the past decade, sans a few seasons (2007 with Khalil Greene, 2013 with Everth Cabrera).
Entering spring training, Luis Sardinas was obviously a clear favorite to be the Padres’ everyday shortstop in 2017. Three weeks and eleven games in, that has not changed.
However, since spring training has begun, there have been a few intriguing storylines regarding the future of that position in San Diego:
- The Padres interest in a duo of Detroit Tigers
The Padres have looked around for shortstops all off-season; scouring the market in search for some stability at the position. The one name that seems to be coming up time and time again is Tigers SS, Jose Iglesias.
A report from “Bless You Boys,” a Detroit Tigers website, came out that the Padres dangled Travis Jankowski in a trade for Iglesias.
A.J. Cassavell, Padres.com beat writer, reported interest this winter:
The Padres have checked in with just about every team that may have a SS available. Interest in Jose Iglesias, Hanser Alberto among others.
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) December 8, 2016
Jon Heyman, in his weekly column for FanRagMLB, just recently wrote of the Padres interest in Iglesias:
“The Padres looked into Jose Iglesias, who would have fit nicely. But the offer was said to have been very little.”
Pursuing a trade for the 27-year-old makes sense, as he’s controllable for the next couple of years and an excellent defender (+3 in defensive runs saved and a 11.6 UZR). Thus far, though, the Padres and Tigers seem apart on a deal. That could all change with a phone call, though. And with Ron Fowler recently saying that the Padres are still looking to add on to the 2017 roster, it is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Adding to that is the fact that the Tigers have a shortstop on their roster (Dixon Machado) who is younger and out of options if he cannot make the club this spring. If the Tigers want to move on from Iglesias, they have someone who could fill the position. Machado is an excellent defender (take a look at this play!).
However, there’s a reason he’s out of options, and that reason is his bat. It is not great; but he has shown some potential recently with the stick (he hit .266 with a .349 OBP in Triple-A Toledo last year). The Tigers have a few shortstop options besides Machado, and people in Detroit are saying this spring is the last chance for Machado to make the team. This all hinges on the condition that Iglesias is not traded, mind you. If Machado can’t show improvement with the bat, he’s likely to be waived.
Could the Padres take a chance on Dixon Machado if he is waived? I think so. This is pure speculation on my part. Depending on whether Allen Cordoba stays on the roster the whole year, there could be a place for Machado to be given a shot. At the same time, Luis Sardinas has proven to be better with the bat over the course of his career, and he is younger as well. Regardless, I do not think it’s out of the question that the Padres’ front office will be keeping tabs on the Tigers’ shortstop situation in Lakeland, Florida for the rest of spring training.
2. Luis Urias…. At Shortstop?
The Padres have decided to take a look at Luis Urias at shortstop during spring training:
Green plans to find out if prospect Luis Urias can play shortstop this spring. People in organization think he can.
— Jeff Sanders (@sdutSanders) February 20, 2017
This is an interesting experiment and one that is well worth taking a chance on. In an organization with little shortstop talent, it’s kind of like, why not? Urias is likely to play a lot of shortstop for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, which will be really intriguing to watch. The 19-year-old has played mostly second base during his career, where he has graded out as a good defender with an above average arm. He recently played shortstop in-game last Saturday against the Diamondbacks, where he was tested a little bit. He let one grounder go under his glove on a tough play going to his right:
Urias at SS is gonna be a process, really interested to see him there during the WBC pic.twitter.com/vQJphgttuE
— John (@Friar_Faithful) March 7, 2017
He came back the next inning with a really nice play, though:
— John (@Friar_Faithful) March 7, 2017
It’s going to be a process. He’s an athlete, but can he cover enough ground to play shortstop? One thing that concerns me is this: if he focuses so much on shortstop, will that take away some of his hitting prowess? The bat is the main tool that has gotten him to be where he is right now, and to see him have to sacrifice some of that just to work on shortstop would be disappointing. Personally, I would much rather see Urias stay at second base and keep improving at the plate than see him move to shortstop and place most of his focus on the position change.
In 12 plate appearances this spring, Dusty Coleman has four hits, two extra base hits (a double and a HR), a walk, and a sacrifice fly. The 29-year-old minor league journeyman was brought into camp as a non-roster invitee, and he has impressed so far. Granted, yes, small sample. I get it.
His best season was in 2015, where he bounced around Double-A and Triple-A to a .292/.364/.442 split with nine home runs and 45 RBI over 99 games. He has had a pretty mediocre minor league career, so there’s probably nothing there. I mentioned this on Twitter– he kind of has a Chris Denorfia vibe to me. Denorfia had much better minor league numbers, though, so that feeling is probably wrong. But still, in a camp with limited SS options, he’s a guy to keep an eye on.
Interesting note on Dusty Coleman; he committed a pretty bad base-running gaffe in his only big league game. Check this out. (You feel bad for the guy, had to be rough.)
Finally, Erick Aybar. He was brought in just to make Sardinas’ seat a little warmer. With the Braves and Tigers last year, Aybar had a .243/.303/.320 slash line with a 65 wRC+ and a -1.2 WAR. Ouch. He hasn’t really been impressive this spring so far, either. I don’t see him making it to Opening Day, barring some kind of injury to Sardinas.
I have seen some Padres fans discuss Spangenberg/Solarte at SS, and I just do not see it. Spangenberg is coming off another injury and doesn’t fit the SS mold. Solarte is best at third base, second base, or occasionally spelling Myers a day at first base. He doesn’t have the range to play shortstop. That is out of the question.
For now, there seems to be no end in sight to the shortstop situation. Barring a trade, it is all Luis Sardinas; for better or for worse. Let’s give him a shot and see what he can do.