What will be the San Diego Padres’ 25-man roster come opening day 2019? Here is an educated guess.
This has been a slow offseason throughout the league, but especially so for the San Diego Padres.
The two big additions we’ve seen so far have been Ian Kinsler and Garret Richards; the latter isn’t likely to make a single appearance for the team this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery just a few months ago and the former is, for lack of a better word, “meh”.
Despite the apparent indifference towards making any sort of moves to plug them, the Padres still have a few holes left to fill out their roster before spring training begins. So, I’ve decided to take a jab at predicting what the 25 man roster might look like come opening day. I also stir up some controversy by matching up a few available free agents who would fill out those glaring needs.
We’re going to start with what should be the easiest position to predict, but who knows what’s going to happen with how often these two’s names have popped up in trade rumors this winter.
Austin Hedges: He will get the majority of innings behind the plate for the Padres this year. This is a position where defense is a premium and any offensive firepower is an added bonus. The arrival of Mejía seemed to light a spark under Hedges late last season as he was able to up his offensive production across the board from his abysmal 2017 season. He had rises of 15 points or more in batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage. He is still a below average bat, but as long as he can post an OPS+ above 80 and remain one of the best defenders at his position, I see no reason to take the starting job away from him.
Francisco Mejía: The polar opposite of Hedges, Mejía’s bat has always been his calling card while he’s been dreadful at times behind the plate. A lot of scouts seem to doubt his ability to stick at catcher and Cleveland even seemed to lose faith in that towards the end of his time in the organization. There have been rumors that he doesn’t want to move away from the position but his best chance at that presently seems to be in a timeshare with Hedges.
Eric Hosmer (1B): That 8 year/$144 million contract is here to stay. Coming off one of the worst years of his career, it’s crucial that Hosmer bounce back and produce somewhere near the level he did in Kansas City two seasons ago. With how much the franchise has invested in him, he’s going to need to be much better than the 1.4 bWAR he put up in 2018. His two big flaws last year were hitting the ball down and striking out way above his career rate. He hasn’t sounded too keen about the launch angle revolution, but hopefully, he ends up getting the ball in the air a lot more and this past season was a fluke. Like him or not, he’s the first baseman for the foreseeable future.
Ian Kinsler (2B): Yeesh. Between his past comments about the style of play that young, Latino ballplayers embrace and the offensive black hole he’s been in lineups over the past two seasons, I am baffled by this signing. To be fair, Kinsler is still a great defender and even won a gold glove this past season after splitting it between the Angels and Red Sox. In the past, he has provided significant power for a second baseman and has a handful of seasons where he’s hit in the high .200s. But his on-base skills have always been lacking and it’s just gotten worse with age. In the big picture, he’s nothing more than a placeholder in the infield until Tatís arrives.
Luis Urías (SS): The heralded second base prospect will likely open the season at short after making his debut last season. He’s played a significant amount of time there in the minors and has looked pretty serviceable, and times flashing the same level of defense that he shows at second. His range may be a bit limited, but he should do just fine there for a few months. His ability to get on base is really what the Padres need though. He struggled a bit more last season at Triple-A than he had in past levels but it was also clear that he was trying to hit for more power. As long as he settles back into the contact hitter that he is, he should be a very productive bat near the top of the order for years to come.
Mike Moustakas (3B): It just makes too much sense. The Padres are in desperate need of a third baseman, they lack big left-handed bats, and he’s great friends with Hosmer from their days together with the Royals. This is the second straight offseason that Moustakas has been on the market and the second straight offseason that he just hasn’t seemed to receive much interest. He’s always been productive with the bat and even holds they Royals franchise record for homers in a season with 38(?!?). There are some questions about the glove, but I really don’t see any better major league ready options in the organization. I like him on a two-year deal until someone like Potts is ready to take over.
Greg Garcia (UTIL): This is easily my favorite move the team has made so far this winter. He’s played all over the infield during his time with the Cardinals and his OBP has always been around 100 points higher than his batting average. He’s a great option to spell guys in the infield and I wouldn’t be against him being the opening day third baseman if the team doesn’t go outside of the organization to fill that need.
Jose Pirela (???): I really don’t know. He doesn’t have a place on this roster or a position that he’s good at, but I think we’re all well aware at this point that the organization seems to have a ton of faith in his ability.
Wil Myers (LF): A third baseman he is not. A left fielder? Let’s try it again. Two of Wil’s big knocks he’s gotten from Padres fans during his 4 years here have been his defense and his health. Last year he looked just fine in left before the ill-advised decision to try him out at third in the middle of a season. As for the injuries, he was coming off two straight seasons of 155+ games before the injury bug caught up to him again. Let’s also not overlook the fact that this guy has played all three outfield positions and both corner infield spots on some sort of a regular basis since arriving from the Rays. Prior to the Hosmer signing, he had reportedly been putting on more muscle to help himself at the plate expecting to play a third straight season at first and then he was suddenly moved back to a much more athletic position in the outfield after putting on all that muscle. It’s not shocking that resulted in an injury-plagued season. The organization has not been forthcoming with us on what their plans are for him in 2019, but hopefully, they have been with him and he’ll be well prepared for a healthy and much more productive season.
Manuel Margot (CF): I love Franchy’s offensive upside, but his high strikeout rate (around 40% right now in the Dominican) and atrocious defense worry me and the organization still seems high on Margot. Manny gets another shot as the starting center fielder because of his defense and the flashes he’s shown with the bat. Like Urías, he needs to stop sacrificing contact for power and desperately needs to find a way to better utilize his speed on the base paths. I badly want him to be a leadoff threat for this team, but he has yet to show that ability on a consistent basis. If everything works out for him though, he could easily become the most valuable player on this 25 man roster.
Franmil Reyes (RF): After struggling a bit during his initial call up, Franmil did something few Padres hitters ever seem to do, he made adjustments. He was able to parlay those adjustments into a solid rookie season that ended in a .280/.340./.498 line with 16 homers and a 130 OPS+. While he provided significant production at the plate, his defense in the outfield was suboptimal, to say the least. He’s one of a few guys in the organization (Austin Allen, Josh Naylor, Myers) who would probably be best served as a DH for an AL team. As long as Reyes is able to keep up the production with his bat though, his defensive woes shouldn’t be an overbearing concern.
Hunter Renfroe (LF/RF): Despite his power, Renfroe simply doesn’t make enough contact to justify starting him in one of the two corner outfield spots over the other options. He did show improvement in the second half of last season, particularly against righties and I like him as an option to provide significant thump off the bench as well as someone who can spell both Myers and Reyes. I don’t see his long term future being with the organization though and am frankly surprised he hasn’t already been traded to a team like Cleveland who is still looking for outfield help and that Preller has done deals with in the past.
Travis Jankowski (OF): If Franchy isn’t starting in the outfield, he should be getting regular at-bats in El Paso until he shows better discipline at the plate. This leaves Jankowski as the lefty and speed option off the bench. He actually put together his best season in 2018 and staying healthy was a big part of that. He likely won’t ever hit enough to be a full-time starter anywhere, but he should have a decent career as a fourth outfielder.
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