Padres spring training guide

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FU Spanos and Dundon
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

Bryce Harper might be at Petco Park on March 28. He might be standing along one edge of the field, hair immaculately coiffed, national anthem nearing conclusion, fighter jets zooming overhead on a picturesque San Diego afternoon.
It is a tantalizing image. Depending on your vantage point, of course.
That’s because Harper might be standing along the third-base line. He might be outfitted in gray, orange and black. Opening Day could be a nightmare-turned-reality for Padres fans, rendered in San Francisco Giants colors.
Yet, on the eve of 2019’s first report date, the picture of a curious offseason remains far from complete. So much has been discussed or rumored. So little has come to fruition. Set aside, for a moment, Harper and Manny Machado, the still-available prizes of the winter. The Padres need a third baseman, a starting pitcher, maybe a second starting pitcher, anything other than the wavering promise of prospects.
In that respect, little has changed since San Diego clinched a 66-96 record on Sept. 30. The Padres shed, among other assets, a third baseman with platoon pop, a slick-fielding shortstop and a lefty who led the staff in innings.
None of those losses cripples the team, but the flip side is sobering: None of their three major-league additions brings much pizzazz. The Padres gained a 36-year-old infielder and a pitcher who may not pitch for them until 2020. They claimed a utility infielder off waivers. The majority of their trade talks hit a dead end, on account of the asking price. They still face Cadillac-size holes at third and in the rotation. They still lack premier, take-it-to-the-bank talent.
So, more than four months after they finished 66-96, the Padres must answer more questions than when this curious offseason began. That is the reality when you have done virtually nothing to upgrade your roster. And, for a long-suffering fan base, reality could turn unpleasant if a late entry into the Machado-Harper sweepstakes ends in another whiff.
Where do the Padres stand in their big-game hunting?
The Padres did not seriously consider Machado or Harper until the second half of January, when it had become clear that both players were still awaiting satisfactory offers. Other teams have joined them, going from the periphery to at least exploratory conversations, but no franchise is in greater need of positional value. San Diego’s active leader in WAR is Wil Myers, with 9.0 accumulated over four seasons. Harper zoomed past that total in 2015 alone, and Machado has logged multiple seasons of six-plus WAR himself.
Machado is an obvious on-field fit. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported last week that the Padres are pursuing the third baseman more aggressively than they are Harper. Yet at least one box in the courtship remains unchecked. The Padres have discussed numbers with agent Dan Lozano, according to sources, but a formal offer is contingent on a sit-down with Machado.
That no such meeting has occurred does not necessarily mean San Diego’s interest is unrequited. Machado personally visited three other suitors — the Phillies, White Sox and Yankees — but the trips took place within the span of a few days in December.
Several weeks later, he has yet to sign with any of those clubs, and the Yankees have added Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu. The process, this close to official workouts, is different. The Padres still might be waiting on a meeting, but they seemingly have not let up in their pursuit. Perhaps a certain figure is all Lozano needs to hear to grant access.
The Padres’ level of interest in Harper, and vice versa, appears murkier. A contingent of top officials flew to Las Vegas for a Jan. 31 meeting with Harper and agent Scott Boras. Presumably, that would not have happened unless the Padres were ready to talk money. But Harper subsequently welcomed the Giants for their own visit, the Phillies reiterated their win-now intentions by acquiring J.T. Realmuto, and there is no indication that Boras has narrowed the field.
More waiting is on the agenda. Both Boras and Lozano are believed to be seeking upward of $300 million, and neither agent wants his client to sign first. The staredown continues and, if the Padres are unwilling to outbid others, they may be forced to blink. They could then be left attempting to sign Mike Moustakas or Marwin González, but as Rosenthal reported, the former could very well re-up with Milwaukee. The latter, also represented by Boras, may not come cheap.
The odds of striking a deal with Boras still seem decent. Yet another client, left-hander Gio Gonzalez, is a possibility for a rotation lacking innings-eaters. But the remaining scenarios may not crystallize until after Machado’s and Harper’s final decisions.
Meantime, in-house third basemen Ty France and Jason Vosler have zero innings of major-league experience. Second basemen Ian Kinsler and Esteban Quiroz also are expected to take ground balls at third, further illustrating the Padres’ plight.
Which prospects will step up?
Fernando Tatis Jr. could look like the best player in camp and set the Cactus League ablaze, and an Opening Day call-up still would come as a surprise. Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement incentivizes teams to control their best young talent for as long as possible. In all likelihood, the Padres’ No. 1 prospect will have to wait until mid-April or later to arrive.
A few other minor-leaguers realistically could break camp with the team. Luis Urías (rated the Padres’ No. 3 prospect by Baseball America), Francisco Mejía (No. 4), Chris Paddack (No. 6), Logan Allen (No. 8), Josh Naylor (No. 9) and Cal Quantrill (No. 10) will be in the big-league clubhouse during spring training. Urías, who could play shortstop until Tatis graduates from Triple A, and Mejía spent time in San Diego last season. Naylor’s path to Petco Park looks obstructed, but Paddack, Allen and Quantrill could be contributing major-league innings by midseason.
The Padres fielded the game’s worst rotation in 2018. Their only winter pitching acquisition, Garrett Richards, underwent Tommy John surgery seven months ago. By necessity, the team will explore unconventional ideas, such as using starters in shorter bursts.
Paddack, Allen and Quantrill will be counted on to provide an impact at some point in 2019. Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer debuted last April. It would not be out of the question for at least one of Paddack, Allen and Quantrill to do the same, one year later.
Their development will be central to the Padres’ trajectory in 2019 and beyond. Should one or more acclimate quickly, San Diego can look forward to years of quality, inexpensive starting pitching. If they struggle during the jump, the organization will be compelled to deal coveted minor-leaguers for experienced starters in advance of 2020, the circled target for contention.
This is why, regardless of this year’s outcome, the Padres have spent the last several years hoarding prospects. The good ones are the sport’s most sought-after currency. They can be used in a bid for just about any major-leaguer. They can be retained in hopes that they blossom into stars. The Padres have them in spades.
What they do not have, unlike successful rebuilds of the last decade, is a legitimate star already in place. Eric Hosmer hit groundballs more frequently than anyone else last season; the Padres are hoping for, but cannot bank on, a significant rebound. Myers has been limited by inconsistency and injury; he continues to be a candidate for a trade.
So, this spring will be the start of a reckoning. For the first time during their rebuild, the Padres should field multiple top-10 prospects early in a season. Their young pitching will need to perform, or more drastic steps will be required. Their fortunes are largely tied to the middle-infield combination of Tatis and Urías. Either of the two superstars on the free-agent market could alleviate a vast amount of pressure.
How will the surpluses be sorted out?
Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejía and Austin Allen are all catchers. The Padres are not completely satisfied with those options. They had interest in Realmuto, maybe the sport’s best catcher. Before Philadelphia paid the requisite prospect cost, San Diego and Miami cycled through weeks of on-and-off discussions.
Yet the Padres also saw upside in retaining all of the aforementioned options. Hedges salvaged an injury-marred season with an encouraging second half. The team believes Mejía can stick at catcher, where his bat has All-Star potential. Allen might not stay behind the plate, but he seems certain to hit for some power.
Competition, of course, could help solve the surplus. So could a trade; a deal for Realmuto might have involved Mejía or Hedges. Barring that, the likeliest outcome appears to be some kind of timeshare.
The outfield is even more crowded, with six players for three spots. Myers’ move back from third gives the Padres four corner outfielders vying for two starting jobs. The Padres are likely to make use of remaining minor-league options. They are likely to make a trade, sooner or later.
The introduction of the universal designated hitter would have eased the logjam. Players such as Franmil Reyes and Austin Allen could have benefited. Naylor is nearly ready as a hitter, but still an unnatural fit in left field. Reports Friday, however, indicated that the National League will not adopt the DH before the 2022 season.
What consequences do the Padres face if they don’t land Machado or Harper?
It has been suggested in some circles that the Padres’ interest in the top two free agents is a marketing gimmick. But even for a franchise known for its blunders, that is a considerable stretch.
The Padres did not want their play for Machado to leak out. It did anyway. They hoped their Las Vegas rendezvous would remain private. It did not. In response, the front office has become even more tight-lipped than usual, lending greater secrecy to a furtive offseason.
Informed observers have felt all along that the Padres are longshots to win a big-game hunt. But at some point, their financial flexibility needs to be unleashed. At some point, a large expenditure will be needed to complete the rebuild. The Padres could get a resounding head start by signing Machado, 26, or Harper, also 26.
Both players should have several prime years ahead of them. Third basemen Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon, who have sometimes outperformed Machado, could sign extensions with their current teams and forgo next winter’s free agency. It could be a half-decade before multiple superstar position players under the age of 28 hit the open market again.
The Padres, then, are making the right move by at least going down the road with Machado and, perhaps, Harper. But if they fail to cross the finish line, they will not face many attractive alternatives the rest of this offseason. Maybe Tatis eventually develops into a Machado-caliber player, but for now, that is a lot of pressure on a 20-year-old.
With or without a splash in the next few weeks, the Padres intend to make a playoff run in 2020. Starting this spring, they must show the outline, at least, of a championship core.


Feb 1, 2015
So I live in Phoenix. If anybody is coming to Padres spring training and wants to drink beers with me at an affordable bar, I might be able to make that happen. Maybe. Unless the beer is rigged.
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FU Spanos and Dundon
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
Padres notes: Top prospects keep coming; Urias, Reyes healthy; Lamet update

The average age of the 69 players the Padres will have in spring training is a tick under 26.
“It’s a young group that’s very talented,” manager Andy Green said Wednesday.
It seems like that has been the story spun around the Peoria Sports Complex for a few years.
But the Padres believe they are experiencing the turning of another page.

“We’ve been talking for a long time about this youth movement starting to show up, and you’re starting to really feel it this year,” Green said. “ … You feel it in guys competing for spots. Probably more open competition. We’ve always talked about that, emphasized that. That’s real all over the diamond right now.”
This surge began to be felt in 2018, when shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the organization’s top-ranked prospect, and second baseman Luis Urias, its third-ranked prospect, made their big-league camp debuts. But there is merit to considering this another level.
The Padres have 10 players listed among the top 100 prospects in baseball by Five of those players are in major league camp.
Only the Braves, who brought all eight of their top-100 prospects in big-league spring training, and the Astros, who took all six of theirs, have more. The White Sox have five of their six top-100 prospects in major league camp.

All five of the top-100 prospects here are expected in the majors at some point this season. Urias (No. 23) and catcher Francisco Mejia (26) debuted late last season. Tatis (2) and pitchers Chris Paddack (34) and Logan Allen (74) could make the opening-day roster or be up any time thereafter.
Paddack and Allen represent the second landing in the oft-cited “waves of talent” the Padres are counting on providing the core of their pitching staff for the next several seasons. The organization believes each wave is comprised of a number of arms with more potential than the previous wave.
Paddack and Allen follow Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Jacob Nix and Brett Kennedy, who all made their debuts last season. Expected at some point in 2020 or ’21 are top-100 prospects MacKenzie Gore (15), Luis Patino (48), Adrian Morejon (49), Michel Baez (72) and Ryan Weathers (93).
“That’s real competition and real talent, some high-ceiling guys that are coming in that we’ve been excited about that are really close to the big leagues now and close to impacting us,” Green said. “There’s real excitement about those guys coming.”
Extra bases
  • Urias, whose setback during rehab of a hamstring strain suffered in September kept him from playing winter ball, is expected to “be involved in every drill; not holding him back at all,” according to Green. Urias will play “quite a bit” at shortstop. Said Green: “From just a comfort standpoint it’s probably best for us to expose him to the bulk of his reps early on over there. … He’s definitely one of our leading contenders to be at that spot to start the season.” The expectation is Urias will switch back to second base when Tatis is called up.
  • Right fielder Franmil Reyes, who suffered a torn meniscus playing winter ball and had surgery at the end of November, is also cleared for full activity. Said Green: “I don’t anticipate we hold him back at all.”
  • Dinelson Lamet is in camp and on track for a mid-summer return to action. The right-hander, projected as the Padres’ No.1 starter in 2018 before suffering a torn UCL in the final game of spring training last March, underwent Tommy John surgery in April. Said Green: “He’s doing everything we hoped for him to do. He’s progressing nicely. But every (Tommy John rehab) has peaks and valleys.”