San Diego Launches Rebuild as Major League Team Shows Youth
By Michael Cline
Greetings! If you’re reading this, you’ve stumbled upon a start up blog about the San Diego Padres. This blog will cover what’s sure to be a tremendous year across the world of baseball. As spring training wraps up in Arizona and Florida, teams have begun to announce opening day starters and lineups, while fans are preparing for fantasy baseball with mock drafts and season projections.
The Padres front office has been hard at work in recent months, attempting to assemble a farm system with international assets and prized prospects from within the draft and through dealings with other clubs. After a series of deadline deals during the 2016 season, the Padres completed their fire sale, officially restarting the rebuilding process in San Diego.
The Padres’ 2016 efforts ended with a walk off loss in Arizona, and since the 68-94 season, the team has been exceptionally quiet this offseason. General Manager AJ Preller, known for his aggressive approach to acquisitions, has made little contact with other front offices since his month-long suspension in September, stemming from a controversy surrounding withheld medical information of trade chips by the front office.
The lack of deals this season could be attributed to a number of issues: the Padres are simply out of trade pieces to move, AJ Preller’s reputation has been sullied since his suspension, or the front office has refocused its interest in the international market and development within their own farm system, which has been buoyed by the likes of Anderson Espinosa and Adrian Morejon.
Preller managed to make a deal that was long overdue. In early December, the Padres moved on from C Derek Norris, moving him to the Nation’s Capital (Norris has since been released by the Nationals, and signed with Tampa Bay). On the free agent market, the Padres moved to sign or claim a number of veteran arms to compete for the starting rotation: Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard, and Jered Weaver (all of whom are set to lead the Padres Starting Rotation this year), along with Trevor Cahill. They joined Jarred Cosart, Christian Friedrich, and Luis Perdomo in search of a spot in the rotation.
Preller’s biggest offseason accomplishment came in mid-January, inking Wil Myers to a six year extension. Myers will anchor the Padres infield after a breakout year, notching career highs in AB (599), H (155), HR (28), RBI (94), and SB (28), representing the Padres at the All Star Game held at Petco Park. After his 2015 season was cut short due to injury and subsequent surgery to repair his wrist, Myers has emerged as the face of the Padres franchise.
Ryan Schimpf and will join Wil Myers and return to the infield, after a breakout year of his own. Schimpf slugged 20 home runs in just 89 games, though his low batting average and high strikeout rate remain concerns entering 2017. Yangervis Solarte, who received a two-year contract extension of his own, will slide to 2B after spending the past few seasons at the hot corner for the Padres. After signing Erik Aybar to compete with Luis Sardinas for starting duties at Shortstop, Manager Andy Green opted to grant the role to the veteran Aybar.
Outside from free agent acquisitions in the rotation and at SS, the front office will rely heavily on young players in 2017. Austin Hedges will take on full-time duties behind the plate, with young outfielders Hunter Renfroe, Manny Margot, Jabari Blash, Travis Jankowski, and Alex Dickerson all set to play significant time.
The Padres have a plethora of options in the OF. Players like Cory Spangenberg and Rule 5 pick Allen Cordoba, jockeying for a roster spot, could give added versatility to the lineup, both in the infield and outfield. Furthermore, C/OF/P Christian Bethancourt will be one of the more exciting storylines to watch, as the Pads find new roles and situations for him.
As of today, the 25-Man roster has yet to be set, nor has the starting lineup and defensive organization for the Padres. Jhoulys Chacin has been announced as the Opening Day hurler, who will face three-time Cy Young Award Winner and perennial All Star Clayton Kershaw, and the defending NL West Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Analysis of the complete 25-Man roster will follow when the San Diego Padres trim the roster and complete player options to the minor leagues.