Padres 2019 Roster and Lineup
We examined the Padres top 80 prospects and the lineup as of today, barring significant trades or signings:
- Wil Myers RF
- Luis Urias SS
- Eric Hosmer 1B
- Hunter Renfroe LF
- Free Agent or Trade 3B
- Fransisco Mejia/Austin Hedges C
- Ian Kinsler 2B
- Franchy Cordero/Manny Margot CF
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Obviously, it is early in the off season and some of the positional battles will come to fruition in Spring Training. There will be a myriad of minor moves, signings and trades even before that time to solidify the 25-man roster and fill emphasized needs. That being said, lets look at the roster construction in its entirety.
The future at shortstop will be the game’s number 2 overall consensus prospect, in Fernando Tatis Jr. However, he will likely spend at least some time in the minors to secure another year of control, and could (depending on how well he fairs in his Triple-A debut), be held down to avoid a Super Two scenario.
Luis Urias, however, will likely slide over to the left side of the diamon.He will man shortstop until Tatis is deemed ready from a player development and production standpoint, or organizational control standpoint.
Urias is a gifted hitter that could eventually flirt with batting titles, a plus defensive second baseman, that most scouts believe he’d able to stick at SS and be “Okay”, but is much more ideally suited for 2B. Thus, for him to start the season at SS, shouldn’t be unfathomable given the internal options.
Moreover, if he plays well there (at a premium position), his value immediately skyrockets; if Tatis eventually needs to move to 3B, or if the Padres’ evaluators decide that is the best roster structure. It sounds like as of today, when Tatis is promoted, Urias will slide back to 2B and Ian Kinsler (who I will touch on soon) will become utilized in more of a super-utility role.
Eric Hosmer had a very disappointing 1st year with the Padres to say the least, and he’ll be back at 1B looking to rebound (which that probability seems high). Through mid-June of last year he was as advertised. Then, a combination of adjusting to a different league, tinkering with launch angle and pressing during a collective team slump, had him in an atrocious nose dive.
He was awful against left handed pitching, which is relatively uncharacteristic of his career peripherals. His career OPS against left-handed pitching is .669, but last year he hit a career worst, .527 and a pathetic .179 average. Hosmer, still just 29 years old and a year removed from a stellar campaign hitting .318, which was 8th best in MLB, top 14 in OBP, and 5th overall with 192 hits, in addition to slugging a career high 25 HR’s.
The aforementioned Ian Kinsler will be the starting second baseman. While Kinsler, now 36, is on the backend of his career offensively, he’s still coming off a very productive season and a Gold Glove winning year — in addition to winning a Championship with the Boston Red Sox. Part of the Padres’ methodology here with Kinsler is to provide elite defense at 2B, attempting at aiding Luis Urias’ defensive transition (albeit part time) to shortstop. Having an elite 2B on the opposite side up-the-middle, to continue tutalage for rookies Urias and eventually Tatis could be invaluable.
Kinsler had his worst season in 2018 offensively, and was still a 2+ WAR (Wins Above Replacement) player. He’ll play 2B until Tatis is promoted, and potentially some 3B (depending on what happens there), then move into a more super utility role with Urias moving back to 2B.
Wil Myers transitioned from the outfield last year to 3B in attempt at filling that hole in the infield, while simultaneously making room for the emergence of Franmil Reyes in the outfield. Unfortunately, during that transition, while he had shown glimpses of his premium athleticism, he was overmatched at the hot-corner.
In addition to being obviously exposed from an experience standpoint, his offensive production took a major hit during that time. Thus, it is hard to imagine Myers, while talented enough to man the position being relied on — given his lack of experience there, and underwhelming performance (albeit small sample size).
The Padres could use Ian Kinsler there briefly, utility-man Greg Garcia, barring a stellar showing in spring from Ty France, who was recently added to the 40-man roster. France had an extreamly productive year in the minors last year, and while he may not be a highly touted prospect, he has legitimized himself into the conversation to become an every day third baseman.
The Padres have serious interest in adding an every day third baseman from outside the organization. The Padres have been linked to third baseman Maikel Franco from the Phillies, Miguel Andujar of the Yankees, and free agent, Mike Moustakas.
From a free agent standpoint, Mike Moustakas might make the most sense, pairing him with longtime teammate Eric Hosmer. In addition, Hosmer will be playing with Mike Moustakas in the ‘California Strong’ Celebrity Softball Game tomorrow, according to Dennis Lin (of the Athletic).
Lin added a quote from Hosmer, via his Twitter account, “I [Hosmer] want to ask him [Moustakas], but I respect the process and I respect him in it. … I think everybody knows where I’m pulling for him to go.”
With the market extremely flush with players who can man the hot-corner, Moustakas — a California native, could become a coupe for the Friars on a one or two-year team friendly deal.
Maikel Franco is appealing because he’s young (26) under control, cheap, has upside, doesn’t strikeout much at all (especially for a power hitter) and wouldn’t demand a prospect bounty price tag return. If Manny Machado signs with the Phillies, that becomes a very strong possibility. Franco smashed 22 HR’s last year in only 433 at bats, and a career high average (over the course of a quasi full year) of .270.
He only struck out 62 times. That is absurd for today’s game and fits the Padres’ philosophy of cutting down on strikeouts and putting the ball in play.
I won’t delve too much into the possibility of Miguel Andujar, as the runner-up for the Rookie Of The Year in the American League, might be a longshot. The interest there is real, however. Striking a major deal between the two teams may be unlikely.
One workable scenario I had thought of with Myers, would be to have him start 3B and later be double-switched for a defensive replacement, such as Greg Garcia, Kinsler or Moustakas on the Free Agent front, and sliding back to the OF. That said, with Myers moving back to the outfield full time, we now know the Padres are focusing on adding someone outside the organization for third base.
Franco and Moustakas seem like the two most likely scenarios from free agency and a trade perspective, respectively.
Both Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia are young, talented and could share playing time behind the dish to makeup a potential elite catching tandem. Hedges is a defensive wizard that has shown some glimpses of offensive power potential last year. Along with a top prospect in Mejia, with elite bat speed and a plus-plus hit tool and one of the best arms in the game. That being said, he needs to refine his receiving skills and could learn a lot by being paired with Austin Hedges, who’s among the best in MLB.
The Padres outfield is loaded with talent. They have five legitimate starting options. Barring a trade, Myers is on one of the corners come Opening Day. Hunter Renfroe on another corner spot, although he has been linked in several trade rumors this off season.
Moreover, no one in MLB has improved their whiff and barrel rate more than Hunter Renfroe. The last two years Hunter has hit 26 HR’s in under 450 at bats. More importantly, along with the vastly improved wiff-to-barrel ratio, he’s also started to hit right-handed pitching. He slugged those 26 HR’s in only 403 at bats, had an almost identical OPS, and a higher slugging percentage against right-handed pitching, surprisingly.
In 2017, for comparison, he slugged .684 vs LHP, but only .393 vs RHP. The disparity between his OPS vs left and right handers was vast. Hunter posted robust 1.077 OPS against LHP, but a meager .636 against his same-handed counterparts. Thus, has improved his internal short and long-term outlook, as well as a stronger valued potential trade candidate.
Franmil Reyes’ numbers and knack for making quick adjustments at the highest level, at his age (22/23), and limited experience, was equally if not more impressive. In only 261 at bats, “The Franimal” crushed 16 eye popping HR’s, got on base to the tune of .340, slugged nearly .500, with a staggering .838 OPS while hitting at a .280 average. The Padres love Franmil, and rightfully so.
He did have minor surgery this off season, but is said to be ready by spring. As the more coveted OF of the bunch, he could be protected by having his rehabilitation monitored very closely and starting in Triple-A, in an attempt at simplifying the outfield logjam, if they cannot lineup on a logical trade.
The Padres would like to move one of their outfielders with the emergence of Franmil Reyes. Manual Margot figures to be the center fielder, but could have statcast darling, Franchy Cordero battle him for that spot in spring. Another option could be to play match-ups with both players, in a modest platoon scenario. Margot, in addition to Myers and Renfroe, has been linked to various trade rumors.
Travis Jankowski is an elite defender and base runner that could prove advantageous as a defensive replacement backup to both Margot and Cordero. Franchy Cordero being healthy again could also potentially make Jankowski expendable.
I believe we will see a trade of one of the afformentioned outfielders, but the because of the injuries, player-options they can utilize — it helps during trade negotiations they don’t have to make a trade to open up a spot.