The San Diego Padres have structured their team to be competitive in the near future. The 2017 season will probably not be a productive year for the major league team, but there will still be plenty of things to look forward to if you are a Padre fan.
The Padres’ minor league system is currently stacked with young talent.
From the Dominican Summer League to the Triple-A level, the Padres will have exciting players developing in front of our very eyes. Not all will pan out, but the team has surrounded themselves with so much talent that success is almost virtually guaranteed in time. It will take time though. The majority of the Padres’ international talent consists of teenagers that are years away from even sniffing the major leagues.
As far as the present team, there are still positives to look forward to for the upcoming season. The depth at second base, the outfield, and the bullpen are certainly positives for the 2017 San Diego Padres.
There are problems though. The starting staff will be a patchwork of veteran pitchers. Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill, Jarred Cosart, Paul Clemens, and Christian Friedrich are not going to strike fear into opposing offenses. They can be reliable pitchers, but the team needs everything to break right to even consider a .500 finish on the season. That is just the cold, hard reality.
There are many interesting stories and position battles that are currently taking place in the spring to take note of. The most obvious of those battles is the competition at second base. Cory Spangenberg was the starter last year to open the season, but a horrible quad injury sidelined him for the whole year. His injury left the door wide open for journeyman infielder, Ryan Schimpf. The left-handed slugger capitalized, hitting 20 home runs and slugging .533 in just over half a season of at bats.
Schimpf would normally be a lock to start the year after a season like that, but Spangenberg brings an element to his game that manager Andy Green loves. His speed and defensive abilities are things that Andy Green pointed out before the 2016 season. The team will surely give him every opportunity to win his job back. Early indication is that the battle is wide open and the next month of play will have a lot to do with what happens come April.
One possibility is trading the loser of the position battle, but that is more complicated than you think.
Both come with some risk. Spangenberg, 25, has probably more upside, but has struggled with health issues. While Schimpf, 28, came out of nowhere to have the year he did in 2016. There is reason to be skeptical that he can approach those numbers again. The value of each is probably not top-dollar at the moment, but once camps start to break and teams realize they have issues in the infield, things could change.
The Padres have second base depth beyond Spangy and Schimpf, and other major league teams are well aware of it. Carlos Asuaje and Jose Pirela are both right on the cusp of being major league players. Arguably, each are ready. Asuaje is 25, and Pirela is 27. Both are more than capable of playing the position in a backup role. Asuaje recorded an impressive .321/.378/.473 in Triple-A last season as he saw time at second, third, and left field. He has great versatility, as does Pirela, who can play the outfield as well as second. He had an excellent winter in the Venezuelan Winter League for his home country. Pirela was left unprotected by the team at one point this winter, but re-signed, and has an outside chance at a platoon job at second, as he is the only right-handed hitter between himself, Schimpf, Spangenberg, and Asuaje.
Another name to consider in the second base equation is Luis Urias. The 19-year-old is presently way ahead of schedule. A 2017 showing seems highly unlikely, but the young man has what it takes to make the jump if needed. He profiles as the teams second baseman of the future. Urias has a line drive bat and a plate discipline that is off the charts. He put up an impressive .330/.397/.440 batting line last year at High A-Ball, where he was the youngest player in the league, at 18. The Mexican infielder walked 45 times in 475 at bats, while only striking out 37 times. He has what it takes to succeed at the next level, and it is only a matter of time for this young man.
Yangervis Solarte should also be mentioned here as he has the ability to play second as well. Some would even argue that it is his best position for the team. Solarte’s offensive numbers, as a second baseman, would make him an all-star. At third base, where larger numbers are the norm, his batting line seems average at best. He is locked presently at third and it would take a huge addition via trade for him to vacate the position, as the team has no prospects there at the higher levels of the minor league system. Solarte is just another player on the Padres’ team who is capable of playing second base.
The point is, the Padres have plenty of depth if they choose to move on from Schimpf or Spangenberg. Neither will be shopped, as the team could open up the season with both. Allen Cordoba would have a lot to do with that. If the Padres choose to keep the rule-5 pick, they will probably have to get creative in the trade front. That’s where Spangenberg’s and Schimpf’s names begin to surface.
The Padres window of winning is opening up. It’s just a sliver of daylight at the moment. If the team gets an offer of young players whose value will peak when the whole club is situated and ready to win, then they will pull the trigger. That is what this season is all about; maximizing player’s worth and making the transition smoother to competitive baseball in San Diego. If a team comes knocking and is willing to pay a decent price, then either second baseman could be moved.