In terms of an outfielder, Adam Jones could be a really interesting choice.
His age is certainly something to take into consideration, but his numbers have been incredibly consistent over his illustrious career. If there has been any decline, it has been disguised incredibly well. It is hard to see Jones playing anywhere other than center field. Thus, a signing of Jones could force Manny Margot to a corner outfield position. Not ideal given Margot’s incredible ability in center, but having an abundance of speed in both left and center is not an issue for me (and a major upgrade from Myers in left like many of you are perfectly fine with when we sign Hosmer).
Aside from his consistent offensive and defensive production, Jones would be an instant fan favorite given his roots in San Diego and he is also a great clubhouse guy. We saw this firsthand at Petco during the World Baseball Classic. If the Padres can sign him for the right price, I am all for it. Other outfield options that could possibly work out for the Padres include; Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra, Andrew McCutchen (wishful thinking), A.J. Pollock, Jason Heyward (for the right price and if he turns it around), and Michael Brantley. Charlie Blackmon and Michael Brantley are the most likely and intriguing options for me.
However, if Jorge Ona, Franchy Cordero, Jeisson Rosario, or newly acquired Edward Olivares pan out, the need for a proven outfielder will be diminished. The last two slots are of lesser importance, but will be crucial when the Padres begin competing to bring a World Series to San Diego.
While the Padres have several arms in their system, they need an established starter who can eat innings, remain healthy, and act as a leader for the young bucks. Preller thought James Shields could be that type of guy. Fortunately, Preller will have a plethora of options to attempt to fill that spot after 2018.
One option that is intriguing is Carlos Carrasco. He has had a sub-3.50 ERA the last two seasons, he is coming off of a year in which he hit the 200 inning milestone, and he was 4th in the Cy Young voting for the AL in 2017. Given he is on a 4-year/$22 million dollar contract with the Indians, set to expire after 2018 with a club option for 2019-2020, he is set to get paid when he hits free agency. If the Padres are still in need of that veteran starter in the rotation, they should at least be in the mix for Carrasco.
With MacKenzie Gore, Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon, Anderson Espinoza, and a host of other prospects looking to break into the major leagues in the next few years, one starter in free agency should be plenty for them. Other potential options include, Gio Gonzalez, Ervin Santana, and Hisashi Iwakuma.
Finally, an underrated piece to the puzzle of a championship squad is a veteran bench player. Looking back at the last couple World Series winning teams, they each had a veteran guy on their bench (David Ross, Carlos Beltran). Whether the player was a producer offensively or a real clubhouse guy, they made a difference. Not to say this is an absolute necessity for the Padres, but I do believe it is a part of the formula.
One name pops out immediately from the 2018 free agency class that might be able to fill this role; Hunter Pence. He is certainly a risk given his injury history, but for the right price, he would be an excellent fourth outfielder option that not only brings postseason experience to the squad, but also brings a fun personality to keep the youngsters lose in big games.
The Padres may sign one, two, or none of the players mentioned above. It is up to Preller to decide the direction he wants to take the team. It should be taken into consideration however, that the Padres have plenty of options to make a splash after the 2018 season if they feel the need to.
It is imperative for the Padres to not become short-sighted and look to win in 2018 by spending money and prospects on players like Hosmer and Yelich. They are better off saving their money, and their prospects, and build for 2019 and on. The Padres will have much more flexibility after this year if they do indeed pass on Hosmer and Yelich. The Padres are much more likely to compete in 2019 than they are in 2018 and they should build their roster with that in mind.