It is the first week of January and the MLB winter has been eerily quiet.
Only one of the top 10 listed free agents have signed, and very little has happened among the trade market.
Sure, Giancarlo Stanton was dealt to the Yankees, but there is still much to do for most major league teams that plan on competing in 2018.
The Padres have as much work to do as anybody, even though they aren’t exactly competing just yet. Hosmer rumors aren’t going away and the team is overstocked with players at positions that should be of interest in the trade market. Things should be heating up very soon.
Here is a brief to do list for A.J. Preller as there are roughly 40 days until pitchers and catchers report for the spring.
Players to Trade
You have to figure that one of these two veterans will have to be dealt soon. Headley was reportedly close to being shipped to the Angels shortly after being acquired from the Yankees, but the Angels instead threw $38 million at Zack Cozart to play third for the 2018 season. Go figure. Solarte is the heart of the team and would only be traded in a deal that makes sense. He is under team control for the next three seasons at a reasonable price, so the Padres are in no rush to move the veteran. Headley is in the last year of his contract and making $13 million. The Padres will have an easier time finding either a home once the free agent market settles. Currently Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, and Yunel Escobar are available on the open market. They should all find jobs soon and once they do, the Padres should get more consistent calls on Headley and Solarte.
The Padres are ridiculously crowded at second base. Yangervis Solarte was the starter at the position for much of last year, but gave way to Asuaje when he was injured. The Padres were pleased with what they saw from Asuaje and would probably be comfortable with him as the starter in 2018. The problem is Spangenberg took a step forward last year with the bat and started to really drive the ball with authority. He seems poised to break out and could get time at third, but that remains to be seen. The Padres have deep issues. Headley, Solarte, Spangenberg, and Asuaje should all be on the major league roster, and then there is Christian Villanueva, who deserves a real chance at third base. A.J. Preller will have to make a move and will probably deal two out of these five men listed. Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis are also coming up soon and they look to be the second baseman and third baseman of the future, so that only further complicates things.
He was the starting left fielder to begin the 2017 season, but a foot injury derailed his season. Jankowski looked lost at the plate last season. He struck out 28 times in 75 major league at bats and spent the majority of the year in El Paso. The Padres once looked at Jankowski as a starter, but he has fallen behind in the depth chart. Jose Pirela is listed as the starting left fielder currently and the Padres also have Alex Dickerson and Matt Szczur on the 40-man roster. Then there is Franchy Cordero, who is a younger, possibly faster Jankowski with far more pop. The Padres would not get top dollar for Jankowski, but they will explore options for him. He might have value as a team’s fourth outfielder or perhaps a team would like to get him 400 at bats in the major leagues. The speed and defense he possesses is useful, he just needs to improve his offensive game.
The reliever market has been slowly developing this spring. There are still some closers out there, but the majority of the quality pitching has been signed. Right about now, I expect the Padres to be getting tons of calls on Hand. He has closer ability, but could also be useful as a 7th or 8th inning guy. He is effective against lefties or righties and is under team control for two more seasons. The Padres could fetch a decent haul for him, but what is Preller looking for? Rumor is that the price is still sky-high as the Padres demand multiple top-end prospects to part with their left-handed reliever. Preller is not messing around. He knows Hand’s value and you have to figure someone will pay the price when push comes to shove.
Free Agents to Sign
Make a decision on Hosmer
Dealing Hand or not may hinge on the first baseman’s decision. The Padres should draw a line in the sand and make him an offer. Perhaps the six-years/$120 million rumored offer is close to the truth. I would not be opposed to that type of money, but it really depends on how the contract is structured. Then today, rumors of a seven-year deal come out. That is risky. Very risky. The Padres really need to know the direction of the club. Not that adding Hosmer would signify a competitive run in 2018, but adding him would force Wil Myers to the outfield and add Jose Pirela to an already crowded trading block. We need clarity in the issue.
More starting pitchers to the mix
Chris Young and Tyson Ross were probably only the beginning. The Padres need to add these veteran-type players on one-year deals and maximize their worth. If they are happy with what they get from them, they can discuss an extension in season (a la Clayton Richard). If they can flip them at the deadline for young players, then do it like they did last season when they packaged Trevor Cahill to the Royals in July. That is how you take advantage of a bad situation. Every year, pitchers come out of nowhere to have decent years. The Padres will look to add many reclamation projects in the new few weeks.
As with the starting pitchers, relievers come out of the woodwork each year to be successful. Preller and the Padres’ scouting department will be going over many names to fill out, not only the Padres’ bullpen, but the bullpen in El Paso as well. Expect to see many names out of the past, as the team tries to boost value of pitchers in order to possibly flip them when the time is right. If Brad Hand is dealt, then expect the Padres to kick the tires on closers. Names like Huston Street, John Axford, and Addison Reed will be of interest if the price is right. The hot stove is heating up. Stay tuned, Padre fans, it’s about to get exciting.