Padres’ Offensive New Years 2022 Wishlist

Matt Olson -1B

If the Padres are successful in their unloading of Eric Hosmer and his contract, Matt Olson would be an ideal replacement. Oakland is tearing it down, and while he would cost a bounty in prospect capital, it’s possible the Friars could extend the slugging first baseman. Moreover, with his former manager Bob Melvin in San Diego now, it could further entice Olson which would make the prospect return more palatable.

Every single offensive advanced metric for Olson is elite or near elite. Whether that’s exit velo, hard hit percentage or walking percentage. He hit .271 last year with 39 HR and had a 911 OPS. His 39 HR’s was a career high, In addition to his walk total. He walked 88 times to his 113 SO. He also tallied 35 doubles. According to Baseball Savant, he rates slightly above average at first base by their OOA (Outs Above Average) methodology. 

Nick Castellanos – OF/DH

He flat out hits. He slashed.309/.362/.576 with a .939 OPS. On paper, he appears to be an ideal fit if the Padres have either the money to splurge yet once again or can shed other contracts like Wil Myers or Eric Hosmer (or both).

Castellanos is a bat-first player with well below average defensive limitations. That being said, adding that kind of premier offense on a roster otherwise built to be an overall elite defensive team is palatable.

His home road splits are alarming at first glance; as he hit a whopping 23 HR’s at home in Cincinnati’s band box, while only 11 HR’s on the road. Historically, he’s been better at home, even in pitchers parks like Comerica in Detroit. His expected HR-per-park would have been exactly the same had he played in Petco Park (atmospheric conditions aside), according to Baseball Savant.

Furthermore, his max exit velocity is in the upper echelon percentile (around 80%), and his hard-hit rate is strong. However, his walk rate, chase and whiff rates are poor. He still has high marks in other advanced metrics like barrels and slugging. But given his defensive limitations, road splits, and advanced metrics overall—there’s an argument that money could be utilized more efficiently elsewhere.

That being said—money aside—he would be a good addition for any team looking to add substantial offense.

Seiya Suzuki – OF

Seiya Suzuki is regarded as the best hitter in Japan, but unlike many sluggers, he doesn’t sell out for power. He is a pure hitter that gets on base and is also a three-time NPB Gold Glover and four-time All Star. He is the complete package and would be a fraction of the cost of many other Free Agent hitters. In addition, he can play center field, although some scouts maintain his best position would be right or left field.

Suzuki hit a career high 39 HR’s, and while that wouldn’t necessarily translate stateside, because he doesn’t sell out for power, he should still get on base at a high clip, be a doubles machine and still hit 20 HR’s.

Last year, Suzuki hit .317/.433/.636 with a 1.069 OPS. His career triple slash is an impressive 309/.402/.541 with a .943 OPS across nine seasons.

Some have described him as a power hitting Ichiro, and while that may be hyperbole, it could indicate how highly recommended around the industry he is.

The Padres have been closer to the vest as ever in their pursuit of players and duties, but there’s still been loose reports out of Japan the Padres have shown interest.

Kyle Schwarber – OF/DH/1B

Simply put, he mashes. Not only does Schwarber murder baseball’s, but he put together a more consistent season last year slugging .266/.374./.554 with a .928 OPS (playing for the Nationals and Red Sox). While Kyle has his flaws like most sluggers, he makes up for his deficiencies; especially last year.

Over the course of 54 games from May through June, he slugged a Ruthian 23 HR’s. The knock on him has always been that he lacks a true defensive position. Having said that, for the first time in his career he played some first base While he’s admittedly a poor defender in the OF, the NL is likely to adopt the DH and his ability to play some first is advantageous.

Historically speaking, he’s struggled against left-hand pitching; slashing a meager .214/.324/.361 with a .684 OPS. On the other hand, he’s destroyed right-handed pitching; slashing 243/.349/.532) with a .880 OPS. However, last year, while he didn’t slug much against LHP, he still got on base and closed the gap between his drastic splits with a triple-slash .268/.389/.398 with a .788 OPS. According to Baseball Savant, his max exit velocity is in the 98th percentile; along with many other elite metrics, including: average exit velo, hard-hit, barrel percentage, slugging, walk and chase rate percentage.

Joey Gallo – OF/1B

Gallo has long been linked to the Padres and AJ Preller from his time in the Rangers’ organization. The Padres were pushing hard for Gallo during the trade deadline last year. While that pursuit didn’t come to fruition, he struggled mightily with the Yankees in a small sample size and some industry sources speculate the Yankees moving him this off season.

While Gallo has his obviously flaws like Schwarber, they contrast in that he’s an elite defender, elite at getting on base along with being a solid runner. However, he lacks the ability to hit constantly for average. Thus, making his production a polarizing topic among casual fans. In addition, like Schwarber, he boasts some of the best exit velocities in MLB; elite percentile for the for mentioned exit velo, average exit velocity, chase rate, OAA, in addition to a 99 percentile walk rate. So, while he does strike out, doesn’t hit for a high average, his elite defense, on base percentage and slugging rate in the zone make him very valuable.

Kris Bryant – OF/1B

Bryant’s strong ties to San Diego have always been alluring. He’s even loosely spoken about potentially playing for San Diego someday. While injuries have derailed Bryant’s career from the once phenom and eventual MVP he became in Chicago; he had a strong season last year and his versatility to bounce around is very attractive. Especially for the Padres, because even if they fail to move contacts like Eric Hosmer or Wil Myers, he can still play all over and wouldn’t block any top prospects or displace anyone of value.

Bryant hit 265/.353/.481 with a .835 OPS playing for the Cubs and Giants down the stretch. And while he was underwhelming for San Francisco and their Front Office Brass, his overall production was very solid. Furthermore, it’s not unfathomable that another year removed from his shoulder injury we see an uptick in his production.

His advanced metrics were alarming coming back after his shoulder, wrist and hand injury; from his exit velocity to hard hit percentage (among others). However, last year they improved and signing him could mean you’re banking on him to continue to progress and return to his old form. It’s not like Bryant is 35. He’s never been a huge Statcast exit velocity king, but the metrics climbing back up after a couple down years is positive.

It wasn’t just him getting healthy, although that was huge. Bryant reportedly made major adjustments to his launch angle approach because pitchers had been adapting to the early successes of launch angle emphasized hitters.

With Bryant’s exaggerated crouch, uppercut swing and carry, he showed immediate success in the Big Leagues that lead the Cubs to a Championship in 2016, including becoming the National League MVP.

With the ever-evolving game and analytic driven sport and mainstream information to players, pitchers started combating similar players up in the strike zone more than ever. So, not only was Kris hurting playing through a myriad of injuries, he was also getting beat on high pitches, thwarting his mechanics that had aided in his success.

Last year Bryant was healthier than ever and also had a more direct swing path along with a more upright stance. It worked. Surely it was a combination of his health and adjustments, but nevertheless it’s encouraging.

Bryant, now 29, will be playing this year at 30 years old, as he turns 30 in January. I’d speculate any team signing him would be wary of going more then five years. That being said, there’s a lot to like and given some reservations by some clubs, it could put his price tag closer to the Padres’ liking.

Jorge Soler – OF/DH

The Padres have had interest in Nelson Cruz, and if that pursuit fails come to fruition, Soler could make sense given some comparable skill sets.

Jorge Soler was very good in the second half and capped that off by being the World Series MVP. And while no one built back up his value last year more in the second half, his undoubtable first half struggles could still make him a potential bargain.

Moreover, Baseball Savant has Soler with the most expected HR’s at Petco park, had he played with San Diego last year with a whopping 12 additional bombs. While that methodology has many variables, it’s still notable and could be indicative of translating stronger production.

Between the Royals and Braves, he hit .223/.316/.432 with a 749 OPS. However, in the second half he excelled after he made some mechanical adjustments at the plate; he hit .263/.357/.555 with a .911 OPS, including 20 of his (regular season) 27 HR’s. Soler is only two years removed from mashing a staggering 48 HR’s and a .922 OPS. Another bat-first, poor defender better utilized as a designated hitter. However, he has age on his side to still play some OF innings regardless if the NL adapts the DH.

Austin Meadows – OF

The Padres were in strong negotiations with the Rays a few years ago for the left-handed outfielder but the Padres balked at the Rays’ asking price of Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges and Kirby Yates (or a combination of two). That never came to fruition, but Renfroe was eventually moved to Tampa and the Padres’ interest remains.

With the Rays ever-revolving roster turnover, the Padres need for a corner OF and previous interest in Meadows, it could make a ton of sense. Meadows has struggled against left-hand pitching as a left-handed batter (as many do), but there’s some silver linings.

Even though he struggled last year to rebound to his 2019 season where he hit an impressive .291/.364/.558 with a 922 OPS; he still hit 27 HR’s last year and excelled against right-handed pitching; slashing .251/.336/.536 with a .871 OPS with 24 of his 27 HR’s against RHP. At worst, he’s an elite platoon bat with potential for more. He’s not a great defender by any means, but he’s not a strict DH either.

Max Kepler – OF

Dennis Lin of the Athletic has reported the Padres interest in the left-handed slugger. While on the surface his numbers weren’t impressive last year, his advanced metrics were almost all elite. Those aren’t definitive indicators of performance, but the metrics can be an indication of either untapped potential or underperformance, too.

With above average exit velocity, well above average max exit velo, all above average in hard-hit percentage, barrels, K-percentage, BB. Whiff, in addition to elite chase rate OOA and overall defensive metrics.

Kepler hit only a .211/.306/.413 with a .719 OPS. However, he still managed to accumulate a 1.9 fWAR.

That being said, Kepler hit 36 HR’s with a .855 OPS in 2019. His metrics could be an indicator that his recent underwhelming offensive production is more of an outlier. Realistically, he’s probably somewhere in the middle. Although, with youth on his side, the potential is very strong and he appears to be poised for a rebound year.

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