The 2018 San Diego Padres’ season is under way and the Friars have their man.
Eric Hosmer has signed with the Padres, marking the biggest free agent signing in the team’s history.
With the 2018 season fast approaching, the team may not be done yet. The team lacks experience at the shortstop position and could also conceivably add to the pitching staff in an effort to stir up even more competition in camp.
Don’t expect to see Jake Arrieta or Mike Moustakas suiting up for the Padres anytime soon. Expect the team instead to be bargain shopping in an effort to improve organizational depth via under-the-radar signings.
Here are seven current free agents that the Padres could realistically sign before the 2018 season begins:
SS J.J. Hardy
J.J. Hardy is a 12-year MLB veteran who has only played the shortstop position in the Majors. A second-round pick of the 2001 draft, Hardy carries a reputation as a strong defender (103.4 ZR and 88 career DRS over 13 seasons) with a bat that grades out as about league average for a shortstop (89 wRC+). Hardy isn’t going to take the starting shortstop job from Freddy Galvis, but he, being right-handed, would allow manager Andy Green to give Galvis a break against a tough lefty or pinch hit for him in big spots.
Hardy has struggled to stay healthy recently, and at 35 years old, one has to wonder what exactly is still left in the tank. However, if the Padres can secure Mr. Hardy to a minor league deal, they might be able to get something out of a player who put up a 2.4 WAR as recently as 2016. With Dusty Coleman the leading candidate to claim a potential backup shortstop job, it is feasible the Padres add at shortstop relatively soon.
SS Mike Aviles
Although Mike Aviles hasn’t posted an OBP greater than .298 since 2010, there is a reason why he has made an appearance in the majors every year since his debut in 2008. Aviles’ calling card is his defensive versatility, as he has played every position besides catcher and pitcher. His best defensive position throughout his career has been shortstop, but his lack of playing time at the position might not be enough for him to break through with the Padres. Now 36 years of age, Aviles is considered a grizzled vet in the baseball world, so don’t be surprised if Andy Green tries to get him to Peoria to serve as a mentor of some kind. This is a deep sleeper signing for the Padres.
RHP Trevor Cahill
A former Vista High Grad, Trevor Cahill was phenomenal with the Padres in 2017 before falling off after a midseason trade to Kansas City. The 29-year-old right-hander struggled with health last year, but still managed to put up a 3.69 ERA accompanied by a 10.6 K/9 and 3.40 FIP in 11 starts with the Friars. Cahill has experience both starting and relieving, and that versatility may very well warrant a minor league contract with a spring training invite from Padres’ brass. If the former MLB All-Star still doesn’t have a job by opening day, why not take a chance on him? He was very successful at Petco Park in 2017 and would be well served trying to re-establish his value in San Diego. His shoulder issues are the only red flag in bring Cahill back to the Padres.
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