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Centerfielder Manuel Margot has played himself back into the conversation for the San Diego Padres, per MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell.
If it seems like Margot has been around forever, that’s because he’s not only in his third season as a regular contributor in San Diego, but before that he was a key piece in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox – after which he instantly became the top-rated prospect in the Padres’ system by MLB.com. He was the 26th-ranked prospect in the game at the start of 2016 when he looked like a potential future star in center, batting a projectable .263/.313/.409 as a 22-year-old rookie.
The Padres have had so many prospects enter the national conversation since that 2015 blockbuster that Margot has faded well into the background, not only on the national level but for the Padres as well. As it stands today, Margot’s career line of .251/.303/.394 doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence as the centerfielder of the future.
Still, he’s remarkably only 24-years-old, and as Cassavell points out, for a little over a month now, he’s raked. Since June 23, he’s holding a .260/.387/.519 line. Consider positive career defensive ratings in center (19 DRS, 11.8 UZR), and Margot may yet contribute to the next contender in San Diego.
Despite San Diego’s deep farm system, they don’t necessarily have their next centerfielder bookmarked. That plays in Margot’s favor, but it might also make the Padres all the more proactive in seeking an outside solution. Unless he can consistently put together quality results against right-handers, he’s more likely pegged for a future as a fourth outfielder, whether in San Diego or elsewhere.
The Padres best bet is to play out the string for the remainder of 2019 and hope he does enough to improve his stock for a potential offseason trade. His youth is encouraging, but he’s also approaching his first season of arbitration, making 2019 a put-up-or-shut-up season for Margot. His first time through arbitration won’t break the bank, but it does change his valuation moving forward. Another couple of months like his last, however, and Margot could change that valuation once again.