This weekend the San Diego Padres added Emilio Pagan to a bullpen which was already well in the conversation for being the best in the National League.
Outfielder Manuel Margot’s tenure at Petco came to a close as part of the trade with the Rays and, though it looks unlikely that the San Diego pitching staff will give up even a single run this season, there are a few folk who think the club would still be best served by fielding three outfielders anyway… just incase, y’know!
As demanding as patrolling Petco’s vast expanses of outfield unquestionably is defensively, there is also an offensive void to fill too. Pads outfielders weighed in with a club record 86 dingers last season, of course the vast majority coming from the now departed Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes and Margot.
So who are the chosen three? Although I have no doubt AJ Preller is still looking for a big bat, I’m going to presume he’s not going to make any splashy moves anytime soon. Mookie is acclimating to Southern California weather ahead of his move down the 5 in 12 months’ time while the cost of signing Yasiel Puig seems to be more than just a financial one.
No1 in your outfield (and very probably No2 in your batting lineup), Tommy Pham is pretty much guaranteed to be an everyday starter. He can hit both left and right-handers and when he’s on base (which is more often than Hunter Renfroe ever did) he is a threat. He led the AL in stolen base attempt conversion (86.2%) last year and is coming off the back of his second straight 20-20 season. He’s also learning Spanish, you may have heard, and not just so he can chat to his teammates. I love him already.
A mega-trade notwithstanding, get used to the idea of seeing Trent Grisham in the day to day lineup too. The lefty forced his way to the show with Milwaukee last summer on the back of a .603 slugging percentage split across time in AA and AAA. Small sample size of 34 games I know, and yes in the Pacific Coast League, but 13 dingers and a 1.247 OPS in just 34 games were enough to book his ticket to the bigs where he continued to get on the bags at a decent lick for the Brewers and was hitting lead-off come season’s end. He’s athletic, versatile and given a good spring, expect to see him charging out of the dugout on opening day.
As for the other spot – whether it’s centre field or a corner on any given day – probably will have a lot to do with which pitcher we’re facing.
Wil Myers – Gosh doesn’t 2015 seem a long time ago? Wil the Thrill has been written about more than almost any other Padre this close season. Get used to it. He has three more $20m seasons on his contract and he’s unlikely to be going anywhere soon, even if the Padres agree to pay half. The former All-star struck out in over a third of his PA last season – the worst rate in his career, unsurprisingly. Add that to his worst ever batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage and factor in that his OPS fell for a third straight season. Here’s a guy who is in desperate need of a streak of good health and more than a bit of luck to break the cycle.
Franchy Cordero – that near-500ft bomb in Phoenix seems a long time ago. Franchy was El Niño before we knew El Niño existed, but forearms, elbows, quads, you name it, he’s strained it. He flashed his bat in winterball again of late but he’ll need to stay healthy and keep that productivity going… if he can do those two things then whisper it, but Franchy could be your opening day CF.
Josh Naylor – Surely he’ll be a DH for the Blue Jays at some point? It seems like destiny. He was shifted to the outfield as a way of using his raw power with the bat but has looked far from reliable. Doesn’t seem to fit the mould of defensively-solid and athletic Petco National Park Rangers although he’s been fun to watch and shown some flashes at the plate.
Jorge Oña – Will it be a case of Oña bike after another year all-but lost due to shoulder surgery. He cost $7m out of Cuba three years ago and despite the surgery was deemed worthy of protection in the Rule V draft and was added to the 40-man roster. His first big league camp is on the horizon. He’ll need to prove his health, and his worth, most likely back in Texas this season.
Taylor Trammell – Here we go… you’ve heard of him, right?! We’re definitely looking for a bounce back from TT this year. 2019 saw some growing pains for the former Reds prospect, who only turned 22 in September. His OPS was down to .689 from .781 and his average fell off a cliff to .234 – his previous lowest in a season was .277. He has twice made MLB Futures All-Star appearances – including one MVP but he’s begun to slide down the prospect’s list. His new mantra after loosening up to try and end his months of struggles was ‘Don’t think – Have fun.’ It seemed to work as he hit .310 in the post season with a .998 OPS. He also clubbed a 9th inning Grand Slam to help Amarillo beat Tulsa in the Texas League Championship finale. He will have learned from the challenges of 2019. Don’t expect him to break camp, but we’ll surely be seeing more of him with the Padres this season.
Michael Gettys – Another non-roster invitee coming off a year of big numbers …. homers (31) and strike outs (168) in El Paso. A big spring for him also.
Abraham Almonte – Originally acquired from the Mariners as part of the Chris Denorfia trade in July 2014, he played bits of two seasons for the Pads before he was swung to Cleveland in July 2015. Switch-hitter fared ok in 17 games with Arizona last year and will be given a chance to show what he can do in the Cactus League.
That’s all she wrote – the time for talking and projecting is nearly over, it’s down to these guys to show what they are capable of and earn their places. Over to you Peoria.
Image courtesy of Home Plate SD