Word came down late on a Saturday night that the San Diego Padres came to an agreement with Eric Hosmer. The news was delivered, oh so subtly, by Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune.
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) February 18, 2018
Now that Hosmer is a Friar, he will become the team’s starting first baseman. Wil Myers will make a move to one of the corner outfield spots. Speculation over the offseason suggested that he would move to left field if he were to leave first base.
While it seems likely that Myers will be in left field when the season begins, it isn’t settled. And, as it turns out, signing Hosmer unsettles another issue for the Padres. They have a crowded outfield — again.
Think back to the 2015 season, when A.J. Preller constructed a roster full of All-Stars through trades and free agent signings. San Diego had Justin Upton in left, Myers in center and Matt Kemp in right. The Padres had several more outfielders on their 40-man roster and nowhere to put them.
Last season, all but Myers and Dickerson saw time in the outfield. Dickerson was on the disabled list the whole season, and Myers was the starting first baseman. Now that these two are competing for a spot in the outfield,
A.J. Cassavell reported on Feb. 18 that Myers would take fly balls in right field, He added that Pirela and Renfroe would compete for the starting job in left field.
This move could very well be a message to Renfroe. He has been uprooted from his job in right, and now is being told he will have to compete for another position. That’s probably not a good sign for the 26-year-old outfielder.
Renfroe was the subject of criticism last season. Most of that criticism was due to his performance at the plate. He hit 26 home runs, but had a 29.2 strikeout percentage in 2017. The team became concerned with this, and sent him down to Triple-A-El Paso last August. He returned to the Padres in September.
A scenario with Myers in left field created speculation about a battle at second base between Pirela and Carlos Asuaje. Early on in spring training, the only position battle mentioned has been in left field.
Pirela played in 83 games for San Diego last season, and spent a large majority of that time as the starting left fielder. He hit .280/.347/.490 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI. However, people were impressed most by his ability to hit ground balls. Pirela had a groundball rate of 47.3 percent.
Pirela made contact with pitches more often than Renfroe, had a higher walk percentage and didn’t commit any errors in left last season.
Renfroe has a strong arm and serious power. A strong throwing arm doesn’t mean much if he’s a less-than-average defender and inaccurate with his throws. Hit power doesn’t mean much if he can’t get the bat on the ball either.
Wil Myers will spend the majority of time in right field today. He’ll see time in left and right as time unfolds. In other words, the outfielders in camp are on notice: Competition is coming for the spots that don’t belong to Margot and Myers.
— Jeff Sanders (@sdutSanders) February 18, 2018
Spring training just started, and we still have a long way to go before the MLB Opening Day. But it appears the message has been sent to Renfroe. Earn his way into the lineup, or his remaining days with this franchise could be limited.