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PHOENIX — The Padres have some exceptional players and some good players.
They don’t have enough of either.
That is the assessment internally and by people from other organizations who have seen the improvement and also noticed the holes that still make the lineup weak.
The offseason is expected to see a level of movement that could/should be astounding, as the Padres attempt to address shortcoming and pare their bloated 40-man roster.
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“They have to,” said one rival personnel man. “They have roster problems. They have to move people.”
While they absolutely need another dependable bat in the lineup, likely a left-handed hitting outfielder and will seek a frontline starting pitcher, such determinations about roster construction begin with what they have.
In a vacuum, a case can be made to keep virtually every player and that many of them might not be Padres in 2020.
Some of that is based on performance. Some of what happens with certain players hinges on what happens with other players
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For instance, Austin Hedges is so superior defensively and so skilled at managing a pitching staff and so ingrained in the leadership fabric of the team that the Padres could live with him hitting around .200 if they didn’t have so many other lineup leaks. If.
There are, based on conversations in recent weeks with several people in the organization who are involved in the assessment of players and/or the plans to improve the team in the offseason, perhaps as few as seven players who can be considered the core of the 2020 team and virtual locks to be here.
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That group consists of Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, Andres Munoz, Chris Paddack, Garrett Richards, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Kirby Yates. It could be argued Dinelson Lamet and Matt Strahm are part of that group, though they could also be valuable trade pieces. So could Hedges, Joey Lucchesi, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe.
Of course, more than 13 of the players finishing this disappointing season will be around to start the next try at a better season.
Whoever is wearing the new brown and gold uniforms in 2020, they simply must be more productive.
“We have to pitch better and we have to hit better,” Hedges said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s the guys we have in here or outside, our starting pitchers have to go six innings an outing more often … and hitters need to hit. Look at the Dodgers lineup. They have seven, eight guys with an .800-plus OPS, and we don’t have anybody (except Tatis). Everybody has to step up at a pretty drastic rate.”
What follows is a position-by-position breakdown of what the Padres have and how those players could figure in to the future.
Even if the Padres don’t acquire another top-level arm via trade, there are three spots virtually locked down.
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Richards on Saturday made his third start in what is essentially a dress rehearsal for ’20. He was everything they could have hoped for in his first start back from Tommy John surgery and then struggled in what could be considered an expected manner in his second start.
Paddack had the rookie season everyone hoped for, which has them dreaming about even better years to come. His 0.98 WHIP and .202 batting average allowed rank fourth and sixth, respectively, among major league starters who have thrown at least 140 innings. He did it with two plus pitches, suggesting an extremely high ceiling once he further develops his curveball and learns a slider.
In 14 starts since coming back from Tommy John surgery, Lamet confirmed he has ace potential along with a penchant for wildness. But his arsenal of pitches and tenacity make him no worse than a No. 3 starter.
That leaves the two pitchers who were at the top of the rotation this year among those battling it out for what will be one or two available spots.
Lucchesi and Eric Lauer, both in their second seasons, were the veterans in the rotation this season. Lucchesi made 30 starts and finished strong, seeming to break through the six-inning ceiling. He went at least six innings five times and posted a 2.96 ERA in 10 of his final 11 starts. The other start in that span was Sept. 13 at Coors Field, when he allowed eight runs in 32/3 innings.
Lauer, likewise, had Coors Field muddy his stat line. He had a 3.62 ERA in 27 starts elsewhere and a 19.13 ERA in three starts in Denver.
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Cal Quantrill is the other obvious candidate, having been the team’s most dependable starter for the better part of two midsummer months, posting a 1.79 ERA over seven games (401/3 innings).
The Padres could ostensibly put Strahm in a spring training competition to be in the rotation. Even those who believe the lefty is too valuable and versatile a bullpen piece to put in the rotation believe he is somewhat wasted as a reliever.
The eighth and ninth inning are set with Munoz, the 20-year-old whose 99.9 mph average fastball was second-fastest in the majors this season, and Yates, the major league saves leader.
Strahm has pitched successfully in virtually every situation and become a lefty killer, and rookie David Bednar seems ready to absorb the middle innings.
After that, though, the Padres have more questions than they anticipated.
Left-hander Jose Castillo, lost to a forearm injury most of the season and shut down after one big-league outing due to a finger strain, is a potential closer but also a big question mark due to health.
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Luis Perdomo showed a commitment to becoming an effective reliever. He could be packaged in trade or remain a jack-of-all-trades in the Padres ’pen.
Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon are viewed as future starters, though it isn’t known when that conversion will take place.
There seems to be confidence Trey Wingenter navigated a rookie learning curve in terms of how to maintain his mechanics and preparation for a large workload. Patience has run thin with Gerardo Reyes’ bouts of wildness. Javy Guerra is exciting but still a project. Miguel Diaz lost to knee injuries a season that was supposed to be about him continuing to harness his exceptional and erratic stuff.
If Craig Stammen leaves as a free agent, the Padres almost certainly will need to find a veteran replacement that has shown he can fill all the roles Stammen so capably has the past three seasons.
In Hedges, the Padres have arguably the best defensive catcher (MLB-high 22 defensive runs saved) and worst offensive catcher (.564 OPS, 30th among 30 catchers with at least 300 plate appearances).
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Several teams have sought Hedges over the past two years — clubs seemingly better equipped to withstand his lack of production due to strong lineups. What the Padres will explore is whether they can build such a lineup or whether the return Hedges brings in trade could justify a decision to go with a combination of other catchers.
Francisco Mejia entered Saturday batting .299 with a .851 OPS in 58 games since his recall June 18. His defense has improved, and the Padres seem inclined to continue to allow him to grow behind the plate.
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Mark your calendars, Padres fans. The team is giving its first look at next year’s new brown uniforms this fall.
The Padres are set to debut their new 2020 uniforms at an event on Nov. 9 at Petco Park, a team spokesperson confirmed to 10News. The news originally dropped after President of Business Operations Erik Greupner revealed the date on Twitch.
Since January, fans have waited in anticipation of seeing the new brown uniforms after the team announced the color change . The team had until May to submit their final proposal for the new threads the Friars will wear.
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Focus group testing was held, giving select fans a peak at variations featuring brown and gold combinations. The Padres haven’t released a sample of the uniform yet though.
The change comes as Nike inked a 10-year deal to be the MLB’s official uniform and footwear supplier starting in 2020.
Some form of brown and mustard was used in Padres’ jerseys until 1984. The inclusion of brown was abandoned after the 1990 season when the team took on a blue and orange color scheme. Brown only began making its way back into the Padres’ uniforms in 2016, when the team featured it as throwback uniforms for select games.
But the hope now for many fans: New Padres threads, young talent, and a world championship on the horizon.
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The Padres likely won’t be able to keep both Austin Allen and Luis Torrens on the 40-man roster — unless Hedges or Mejia is traded and not replaced by another major leaguer.
While a team’s record when a catcher starts can fluctuate wildly, it did not seem to be entirely coincidental the Padres were 1-13 when Allen caught. The left-handed power hitter has more to work on behind the plate.
Torrens returned to the big leagues for the first time since 2017. This time, he looked like he belonged (or will soon). Still just 23, he appeared in a small sample size to be better behind the plate and was 3-for-13 with two walks.
Until a recent steep slide, Hosmer’s offensive numbers had normalized. With two games remaining, his .267 average and .736 OPS are up 14 and 16 points, respectively, over last season but are well below his .284 and .781 in seven seasons in Kansas City.
Hosmer’s .336 average with runners in scoring position ranks 11th in the majors among those with 125 or more at-bats in that situation, and he leads the Padres with 98 RBIs. He also led the team with 38 multi-hit games, including a team-high 14 three-hit games.
However, the four-time Gold Glove winner has committed a career-high 14 errors. Coaches and scouts have identified clear issues in the way he approaches the ball with both his body and glove, and perhaps an offseason will allow for changes. On the other hand, Hosmer committed 10 errors in 2014 before being charged with just 18 over the next four seasons.
The 29-year-old is signed through 2025, meaning he and Machado and Tatis comprise the core for many more seasons.
Luis Urias might not be what many on the outside thought he would be, but his ability to get on base (.335 on-base percentage in 212 plate appearances since his July 20 call-up) and play a solid second base is about what the Padres were counting on.
They do want him to continue to streamline his swing so he can hit velocity better, and he is by no means a lock to be their second baseman of the future. But he plays a position that can justify some offensive deficiencies, and he has improved the production at the bottom of their order.
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If the Padres are really trying to win in ’20, Greg Garcia will probably be on the roster. That’s a virtually unanimous sentiment around the clubhouse. In a career-high 367 plate appearances, the veteran utility man’s .366 OBP was second on the team to Tatis’ .379.
Rookie Ty France, who hit .399 in Triple-A this season, has shown his worth as a utility infielder (everywhere but shortstop). He has more power than Garcia but hasn’t learned how to mask and overcome the holes in his swing nearly as well as his mentor. That makes him a candidate to be packaged in a trade.
There does not seem to be room on the roster for 37-year-old Ian Kinsler, who hit .217 with a .278 OBP before undergoing season-ending neck surgery in August. However, there remains a sliver of sentiment in the organization that his leadership and defense could keep him around at least to start the second year of his two-year, $8 million deal.
Machado was for two-thirds of the season pretty much what the Padres expected when they committed $30 million a year for a decade.
On July 30, he was batting .278 with a .863 OPS. But he is batting .200 with a .620 OPS since then.
The belief (hope) is a second-year bounce back will make him that top-20 player they signed.
Machado’s defense helped make the left side of the Padres infield, when Tatis was healthy, a fertile ground for the spectacular.
The Padres prepared themselves (and fans) for a rough patch from Tatis that never really came.
There was a period in July in which the 20-year-old rookie committed a slew of errors, mostly trying to make ill-advised throws that few shortstops would even try.
Tatis led the Padres in average (.317), OBP (.379) and slugging percentage (.590) by never going more than two games without a hit. He is one of four rookies in major league history to hit at least 22 home runs and steal at least 16 bases.
The Padres certainly need him to play more than the 84 games he was limited to, having missed more than a month with a hamstring strain and then being shut down in mid-August with a stress reaction in his back. While his blend of talent and all-out effort is what makes him one of the game’s most exciting players, the assumption is he will learn to bridle his energy at times while the team makes his rest and rehab a priority.
Urias, after going through some yips in his first few weeks taking over for Tatis, showed he can be a viable fill-in at short.
The biggest thing Nick Martini showed the Padres was the value of having another left-handed bat in the lineup.
But the 29-year-old, claimed off waivers on Aug. 29, also proved he could be a viable option to at least play against right-handed starters by getting on base at a .347 clip. His future with the Padres could be determined by whether they land another left-handed hitting outfielder.
The Padres believe Wil Myers is a Gold Glove-caliber left fielder — as well as a capable fill-in at three or four other positions.
They seem willing to eat as much as half the $20 million a year he is owed through 2022. But there is increasing skepticism throughout the majors that would be enough to facilitate a trade.
Myers’ peaks (such as hitting .316 with an .891 OPS in 44 games from July 27 to Sept. 15) more than justify his contract. But he has made the Padres endure extended periods every season in which he is a void in their lineup (such as hitting .175 with a .618 OPS in 78 games from April 23 to July 26).
If Margot were on a team that could start him almost exclusively against left-handed starters and use him as a defensive replacement, he would be greeted with thunderous applause every time his name was announced.
Margot, who turned 25 on Saturday, hit .330 with a .422 OBP against lefties this season and has career marks of .278/.338 against them.
Not having enough of the right kind of players is actually a Padres plague, as it forces certain players into situations that do not set them up for success.
Margot could be the biggest beneficiary of the Padres adding a veteran outfielder who bats from the left side and can play multiple spots.
Franchy Cordero will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic, as the Padres continue to hope the magnificently talented 22-year-old can stay healthy. He is young enough and good enough to be with them next year but has been hurt often enough that they can’t count on him.
Travis Jankowski, who entered spring training viewed as a key piece due to his ability to elite defense and speed, has apparently become an afterthought following a season that began halfway through due to a fractured wrist.
Whether he wins one, Hunter Renfroe has become a Gold Glove-caliber defender. Oh, and he also leads the team with 33 home runs entering the final weekend.
The problem was he hit just six of those home runs in the second half and continues to struggle seeing (and thus hitting) sliders.
Renfroe has responded to every challenge over the past two seasons, from the potential loss of his job to improving his defense. So there can be confidence the 27-year-old will continue to improve at the plate. There is a consensus that nagging injuries contributed to his offensive slide this season, but the extent of how much he bounces back won’t be known until next season.
The Padres have given every indication they are committed to rookie Josh Naylor. He has started 38 of 54 games since he was recalled Aug. 1. Only Urias, Machado and Hosmer started more.
His numbers in two major league stints this season (.246/.314/.443, eight homers and 15 doubles in 274 plate appearances) are not overwhelming, but his at-bats are remarkably professional save for his occasionally being overeager. The questions are whether he plays left or right field and/or whether another team is interested enough in acquiring him to possibly return to his more natural first base or be a designated hitter.