Eric Hosmer and the first base situation is certainly one of the more significant concerns moving forward, especially because of the investment that the Padres put into him.
However, the future at third base for the San Diego Padres is still a question.
There are many speculations out there regarding what direction the Padres will take in choosing their third baseman of the future. It could be Christian Villanueva, if he can find some consistency offensively and maintain his defense to the standard he has held over the last couple months of this season. Potentially, they could resign Freddy Galvis and plan for Fernando Tatis Jr. to play third. They could be looking at the newly-promoted Hudson Potts as their guy. The Padres have even been practicing Wil Myers at third base in a potential move that would shift him over to the hot corner. Finally, and certainly most unlikely, they could make a run at Manny Machado or another star third baseman on the market to fill their glaring hole. However, the most likely of all of these options would be to rely on internal players that are still honing their skills, like Christian Villanueva or Hudson Potts.
Given the experience under his belt, Villanueva is the current front-runner in terms of who will take up most of the time at third base heading into 2019.
Unfortunately, his 2018 season has been plagued with inconsistency and defensive struggles. Offensively, he has actually been above average in terms of his wRC+, sitting at 105, but his sub-300 on-base percentage is still concerning. One reason for his low OBP is his high strikeout rate, which currently sits at 26.6%. Another reason is his below-average BABIP, which either suggests he has been extremely unlucky over the course of the season or he has struggled to make hard contact on a consistent basis. Despite his clear ability to hit for power, it is hard to declare Villanueva the guy for the future.
While Villanueva should be the opening day third baseman next season, keep an eye on Potts as the team’s possible contingency plan if Villanueva can’t put together a consistent season. Potts is currently slashing .281/.350/.498 with Lake Elsinore and will get a new test as he takes on AA pitching. If he handles this promotion with more success, he could be a name we all become familiar with.
The last concern Padres fans should have is A.J. Preller making a harmful deal to the rebuild. If you all recall, the Padres were very active in the trade discussions involving Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays. While Preller was likely just conducting his due diligence, there were some names thrown around for a possible deal that should make Padres fans feel at least a little uncomfortable. Names like Francisco Mejia, Chris Paddack, and Luis Urias, among others, were the names that came up in the Archer trade discussions. However, it was noted that Preller said he wouldn’t trade Paddack for anyone in the Rays’ system, citing how “special” he is to the organization, and that truly shows how much Preller values the farm system that he has built.
To clarify, the chances of Preller making a destructive move are nearly nonexistent. It is only brought up due to their involvement with Archer. Preller knows more about his plan than anyone, and trust should be placed on him to make the right calls.
The contingency plan here would be to rely on the lava of talent they still have at their disposal. A name that has certainly become more well-known among Padres fans is Luis Patino, who has developed into a legitimate prospect. It is expected that guys like him would become much more important for the rebuild if Paddack was ever dealt. Additionally, guys like Logan Allen, Jacob Nix, Adrian Morejon, Mackenzie Gore, Michel Baez, etc. would all be expected to really step up. We also can’t forget about Anderson Espinoza, who remains an electric option if he can bounce back from injury. There is so much pitching talent in this system that the Padres could deal Paddack and they would still be loaded. While unlikely to even have to worry about, it is important to understand just how jam-packed the Padres’ farm system is and how a trade like that won’t derail the entire process.
While each of these issues is concerning, especially Eric Hosmer and the third base situation, there are options available to the Padres due to the crafty work by A.J. Preller. While the future in San Diego is certainly bound to be bright, a reality check is needed every once in a while.