The San Diego Padres’ signing of Eric Hosmer this week has initiated a domino effect on the team as a handful of players are being asked to shift positions to facilitate the addition.
Wil Myers will be moving from first base back into the outfield. He has been taking reps in both left and right field. With the potential of Myers moving into right, Hunter Renfroe may be forced to move into left; a position he is not as familiar with.
Jose Pirela had held down the job in left field quite capably, so if either Myers of Renfroe end up taking over the position, where will that leave him?
It’s still early in spring training, so realistically, there is no telling who will end up where come opening day.
I would say the most unstudied alignment would be to put Myers in left and keep Renfroe and his gun in right. Of course, Renfroe’s dreadful defensive showing in 2017 has not been forgotten. He really does have to earn his position this spring, no question. There is quite a bit of outfield competition this spring so Renfroe will have to be on his toes, and in fact, take several steps forward.
Renfroe could be used in a platoon situation, which is actually my favorite scenario at the moment. Anybody familiar with my writing knows that I am a fan of Alex Dickerson and I believe that he could have a big season in 2018. He is a left-handed outfielder with some pop and an ability to get on base. I think that if Renfroe ends up in left, he should split time there with Dickerson, at least to start the season until the outfield has a chance to fully coalesce.
Renfroe had a lot of trouble with plate discipline last season, striking out 29.2 percent of the time with a .284 OBP. This has to improve. He did however, fare very well at the plate against left-handed pitching. His slash line against lefties in 2017 was 295/.377/.672. While I believe that Renfroe still deserves a chance to prove himself, I don’t believe that he has earned the right to his own corner in the outfield.
The team ought to play him to his strengths until he’s proven he can handle more. Maybe he can be slowly introduced into full-time play with the ultimate, best-case scenario of becoming a stabilizing right-handed number four hitter to compliment the left-handed Hosmer in the three spot. I feel similarly about Dickerson’s potential, so I really do want to watch the better player win, whoever that may be. Maybe a platoon works long-term? I see Franchy Cordero as a very solid fifth outfielder going into the season, and maybe more moving forward.
Again I ask, where does this leave Pirela? Simply put, I think Pirela moves to second base. After last season, I believe that he has earned himself a starting spot, slashing .288/.347/.490 with a wRC+ of 122 and 2.1 WAR. The outfield is crowded and frankly, there are better alignments, as previously discussed. I know that people want to see Carlos Asuaje get playing time at second, but I think that Pirela is the one you want in the lineup everyday, and his best fit on the field would be at second. I believe Asuaje will ultimately end up being a really strong utility infielder for the Padres when they are ready to compete, especially when Luis Urias arrives. Asuaje can be used as a utility infielder at the start of the season as well as a very tough pinch hitter. He works the count like nobody’s business. There is value in having a guy like that off of the bench.
Again, I acknowledge that we are only on the eve of the first Cactus League game of the season, so a lot will change within the span of spring training, but it’s never too early to do some strategic exercises for fun.The team has many options to work with going into 2018 and I actually think they have the potential to put together a pretty capable roster when given a good look.