With Opening Day just over 48 hours away, and fanfest already underway, manager Andy Green and the San Diego Padres have made their final roster decisions. Although the roster looks a lot like what many have predicted, there are quite a few surprises. Not only are the Padres keeping all three of their December Rule-5 selections, but they are also going into the season with four catchers and only three outfielders.
In the infield, the Padres will be carrying the aforementioned four catchers; starter Austin Hedges, backup Hector Sanchez, Rule-5 pick Luis Torrens, and pitcher-catcher-outfielder hybrid Christian Bethancourt, as well as Wil Myers, Ryan Schimpf, Erick Aybar, and Yangervis Solarte as the starters, and Allen Cordoba and Luis Sardinas making the team as backup options. This was perhaps the most surprising roster decision of all, as the Padres chose to send infielder Cory Spangenberg down to Triple-A in order to keep both Sardinas and Cordoba, as Sardinas would have to be put through waivers if he didn’t make the roster and Cordoba needs to remain on the 25-man all year in order to remain with the Padres.
In the outfield, the Padres end up with only three outfielders on their Opening Day roster, with Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot, and Hunter Renfroe making up one of the youngest Opening Day outfields in all of baseball. Given that the trio of Cordoba, Sardinas, and Bethancourt, as well as Schimpf, have dabbled in the outfield in the past, the Padres feel fairly confident in allowing some combination of those guys to operate in that capacity as needed. However, at least for the beginning of the season, the three young guys will get a majority of the playing time in the outfield.
In terms of the pitching staff, the Padres final rotation will look like this: Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, Jered Weaver, and Luis Perdomo. Having just missed out on being a member of the rotation, Jarred Cosart will start the year in the bullpen alongside returning Padres Brandon Maurer, Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter, and new additions Craig Stammen, rule 5 pick Miguel Diaz, top-30 prospect Jose Torres, and the aforementioned Christian Bethancourt operating in a hybrid role.
On top of that, Alex Dickerson, Christian Friedrich, Buddy Baumann, and Carter Capps will all start the season on the newly instituted 10-day disabled list. Given this, the Padres final Opening Day roster may change very quickly once those players are ready to come off the disabled list. Dickerson will probably slot into the outfield rotation and Capps will most certainly be eased into the late innings. The other two pitchers will likely be kept in the minor leagues as further pitching depth. This leaves the Padres with even more decisions to make when that time comes. The Padres also designated pitcher Keith Hessler for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
So in total, the Padres have made quite a few, somewhat puzzling decisions, the biggest of which are their decision to carry four catchers and their choice to start Cory Spangenberg in the minor leagues to start the season. However, for fans upset about these decisions, this roster is far from a finished product, as some changes will likely be made when the likes of Capps and Dickerson are ready to come off the disabled list. It remains to be seen which players get sent down to make room, but with so many Rule-5 selections and players out of options, it may be hard for the Padres to find the room for so many players.