If the San Diego Padres lose out on Manny Machado, will they have any options for third base in 2019? Here is a look at some players that could be signed or acquired to play a part in the 2019 season.
The second Mike Moustakas signed his contract to return to the Milwaukee Brewers, there was a shift in free agency that the average fan will probably overlook.
Now the Moustakas is back with the Brewers, the safety net for the teams vying for Manny Machado’s services has suddenly disappeared.
The thought in a lot of people’s minds seemed to be the loser in the Manny Machado sweepstakes would “settle” for the former MLB All-Star third baseman and World Series Champion.
San Diego has found themselves in a situation where the Padres problem at third base will likely have to be solved in-house if they fail to sign Machado. The already thin third base market has dried up with Moustakas and Josh Donaldson (not a Padres target but was a UFA third basemen) coming off of the board.
Here is a look at some names the Padres could choose to go after.
2018 Stats (w/HOU): 145 G, 552 .247/.324/.409/.733, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB
Marwin Gonzalez has played third base before and remains on the market. The 2017 World Series Champion and super utility player should be in demand. Gonzalez played nine different positions for the Astros last year (did not pitch or catch), even logging 20+ games at five of those positions. There are a couple of problems with this idea though as Gonzalez hasn’t played third base consistently in his entire career. The most games he has started in a season at third base is 16 games, which he did twice in 2015 and 2016 because of the emergence of Alex Bregman at the hot corner in Houston. As we can see with players such as Rafael Devers, Miguel Andujar, and even if you want to go back as far as a young Adrian Beltre, playing third base at the major league level is a different animal. The three mentioned struggled tremendously defensively, Andujar and Devers having almost the same story in rivaling organizations. With little recent experience in the hot corner, it is almost certain that Gonzalez would struggle defensively.
Another problem with Gonzalez is the recent rumor that he wants around what fellow utility player Ben Zobrist received in free agency in the 2015-16 off-season. The deal that Zobrist received from the Chicago Cubs was four years and $56 million ($14 million per season). There are some differences in the two players that work for Gonzalez. One is that he is five years younger than Zobrist (34) when a deal would be signed. On the other side, Zobrist was considerably better in most categories during his contract year. If Gonzalez is looking for a long-term deal it is likely the Padres will look elsewhere for help at the third base position. So while I do think that Gonzalez would be an upgrade from the recently departed Villanueva, I do not believe the timetable for him fits the Padres exact needs.
Everyone wants to talk about the aforementioned Miguel Andujar and they should. The Yankees have a crowded infield, and they seem to not have confidence in him on the defensive end making him the possible “golden boy” of the trade market of position players. Everyone knows that Andujar would be a great target for the Padres and the fit is there, but what are other options on the trade front?
Tampa Bay Rays
2018 Stats: 132 G, 503 PA, .294/.361/.366/.727, 5 HR, 44 RBI, 12 SB
Padres fans should recognize Duffy from his time spent in the hot corner with the rival San Francisco Giants. San Francisco eventually moved him in order to acquire starting pitcher Matt Moore, who is no longer with the franchise and was a -1.2 WAR player for the Texas Rangers. Duffy returned from Achilles surgery, an injury which was bothering him before the trade to Tampa Bay that would sideline him for half of 2016 and all of 2017, and was a part of the reason the Rays had their name in contention for the second wild-card spot in the AL
There are downsides to Duffy as the power just isn’t there (though according to the Tampa Bay Times Duffy has gained 23 pounds this offseason). You would have to hope that the second year after an Achilles surgery, Duffy will improve offensively. He is also a suspect defender at third. The Rays acquired Yandy Diaz from Cleveland this offseason and he is expected to spend time at third base, which could be a sign that they would be willing to part ways with the infielder. Duffy is under contract until the end of next year and could at the least provide major league experience at third base, which the current roster is lacking.
Boston Red Sox
2018 Stats: 46 G, 194 PA, .298/.381/.538/.919, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB
The wildest and easily the most unlikely option is the Red Sox number one prospect, Michael Chavis. How can the Padres acquire another one of the Red Sox top prospects, and why would Boston part ways with him? The Red Sox are in dire need of bullpen help. They watched playoff hero Joe Kelly sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers and do not seem likely to bring back one of the best closers in baseball Craig Kimbrel. Both helped the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series Championship. Right now the Red Sox are going into spring training with the closer likely being Matt Barnes, who in his career has never posted below a 3.50 ERA or a 1.20 WHIP. Not exactly ideal for a team looking to repeat. They have also missed the boat on virtually every reliever in free agency. The best option for the Sox is to obtain relievers through trades. The Padres have relief options that a team like Boston, in need of something resembling a bullpen arm until their hopeful closer of the future Durbin Feltman is ready, would need.
Chavis only played 46 games last year in Triple-A. He was suspended for 80 games after violating Major League Baseball’s PED program. When he did get back after suspension, the third baseman was productive as you can see in the stats above. Why then would the Red Sox part ways with a productive third base product? There isn’t room for Chavis, as he is blocked by rookie sensation Rafael Devers. Even with Devers struggles defensively at third base, he will have every opportunity at the hot corner, leaving the 23-year-old Chavis without a chance.
This sounds like it makes a lot of sense for both sides, so why is this unlikely? Well, there is the elephant in the room with the history of the two general managers. A.J. Preller was suspended for 30 days by Major League baseball for hiding medical information about Drew Pomeranz in a deal that sent the southpaw to Boston in exchange for the Red Sox #1 pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. The two have not made a major deal since the transaction and you have to wonder if there is bad blood. Desperation could tie the hands of the Red Sox GM, as they can not afford to make the mistake that the rival Yankees have done and fall behind in the division. If Boston gets desperate for bullpen help, they could end up calling the Padres for names like Stammen and Yates, giving the Padres a possible solution at third base.