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What else do Padres need after two blockbusters? Why three moves are still on A.J. Preller’s agenda


#In the span of roughly 24 hours, the #San #Diego #Padres added two ace-caliber starters and a highly regarded young infielder to a roster that had the third-best record (37-23) and second-best run differential (plus-84) in baseball in 2020. The #Padres are zigging toward competitiveness while just about every other team zags toward austerity.

“#Everybody in the organization is fired up, from top to bottom,” #Padres GM A.J. #Preller told MLB.com’s AJ #Cassavell earlier this week. “#Again, it’s all part of, really, the last-five-year plan.”

#Trading for #Yu #Darvish and #Blake #Snell, and signing #Ha-Seong #Kim, would have made for an exciting offseason even if you spread the three moves out across the four months of winter. #Instead, #Preller closed all three deals in one day. #What a whirlwind. #Here, just to lay it all out, is what the #Padres added and what the #Padres gave up in their recent machinations:

  • #Padres get: C #Victor #Caratini, RHP #Yu #Darvish, IF #Ha-Seong #Kim, LHP #Blake #Snell
  • #Padres give up: OF #Owen #Caissie, RHP #Zach #Davies, C #Blake #Hunt, C #Francisco #Mejia, OF #Ismael #Mena, RHP #Luis #Patino, SS #Reginald #Preciado, SS #Yeison #Santana, RHP #Cole #Wilcox
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The #Padres also assumed $123 million in salary obligation ($59 million for #Darvish, $39 million for #Snell, $25 million for #Kim) spread across 10 contract seasons (three each for #Darvish and #Snell, four for #Kim). #Prior to the trade MLB.com ranked #Patino, #Hunt, #Preciado, #Caissie, #Wilcox, #Mena, and #Santana the #Nos. 3, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, and 16 prospects, respectively, in #San #Diego’s stacked farm system.

“#If we’re going to look to move quality, talented prospects, young players, etc., there may be times where you want the short-term rental fit,” #Preller told #Cassavell. “#But in general, with most of these deals, the attractive part for us is that they’re players who fit in the short- and long-term.”

#With all due respect to #Davies, who is a rock solid MLB starting pitcher, the #Padres did not part with anything they’re going to miss in the #Darvish and #Snell trades. #Catchers #Austin #Nola and #Luis #Campusano (and then also #Caratini) made #Mejia expendable, and while #Patino is supremely talented, the #Padres are not short on young starters with high-end ability. They still have #Mackenzie #Gore, #Adrian #Morejon, #Chris #Paddack, and #Ryan #Weathers, among others. They also added that #Snell guy.

The #Padres are behaving exactly how teams should behave. They’re spending money (#Eric #Hosmer, #Manny #Machado), trading for impact talent when it becomes available (#Darvish, #Snell, #Mike #Clevinger), and they’re not playing service time games (#Paddack and #Fernando #Tatis #Jr. were on the #Opening #Day roster in 2019). #It’s refreshing. #It really is. #Baseball is in the entertainment business and no team is as entertaining as the #Padres right now, on and off the field.

#Did the #Padres do enough to close the gap with the powerhouse #Dodgers? I’m inclined to say no — I’m a bit worried about #Dinelson #Lamet’s biceps injury, especially after #Clevinger’s biceps injury was more serious than initially reported — but the case can definitely be made they have, and there’s no doubt this current #Padres team will be the greatest threat #Los #Angeles has faced since its run of eight straight NL #West titles began in 2013.

#Preller and the #Padres don’t have much remaining on their offseason to-do list now. The heavy lifting is done. #All that remains is minor tweaks and opportunistic upgrades. #Here are three things #Preller & #Co. may want to accomplish before spring training.

1. #Add a reliever

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#When the #Padres needed bullpen help at the deadline this past season, #Preller acted decisively, bringing in four relievers (#Austin #Adams, #Dan #Altavilla, #Trevor #Rosenthal, #Taylor #Williams) in three separate trades in a 48-hour span. #Rosenthal is a free agent but #Adams, #Altavilla, and #Williams remain with #San #Diego.

#Manager #Jayce #Tingler’s relief crew looks something like this at the moment:

The #Padres have been very willing to use top pitching prospects out of the bullpen the last few years (#Patino, #Morejon, etc.), so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see #Gore, #Weathers, #Michel #Baez, or even the oft-injured #Anderson #Espinoza letting it fly in relief at some point in 2021. There is definitely something to be said for learning how to get outs at the MLB level, regardless of role, rather than dominating as a starter in the minors.

#Although I would not call it a top priority, adding a bullpen arm is never a bad idea, and the #Padres are in position to roll the dice on a reliever with some questions but also a lot of upside. They don’t absolutely need another lockdown reliever the way some other contenders do. The #Padres aren’t desperate and that allows them to be picky. They can let the market play out, see what shakes loose, and jump on anything that makes sense.

#To me, a #Kirby #Yates reunion makes all the sense in the world. #Yates was arguably the best reliever in baseball from 2018-19, when he had a 1.67 ERA with 191 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings, but a bone spur in his elbow sabotaged his 2020 season. #He allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings before undergoing season-ending surgery in #August. #Yates is now a free agent and, for what it’s worth, #Dennis #Lin of The #Athletic reports a reunion is possible.

#Yates is expected to be ready for spring training and he’s likely looking at a one-year “prove yourself” contract. #What better place to prove yourself than with than #San #Diego? The two sides already know each other and the #Padres would give the soon-to-be 34-year-old #Yates as good a chance to win the #World #Series as any team. #Seems like a win-win situation.

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#If not #Yates, the #Padres could look into other reclamation project relievers with upside like #Keone #Kela (coming off a flexor strain), #David #Robertson (#Tommy #John surgery), and #Ryne #Stanek (bad 2020). #All carry risk and all have been excellent in the not-too-distant past. #San #Diego can roll the dice. #If it works, great! #If not, no big deal.

2. #Add a bench bat

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#Yeah, we’re nitpicking. #That’s what happens when you have a roster as strong and as deep as the #Padres. #In fact, #San #Diego’s roster is so stacked that #Jake #Cronenworth, who finished third in the NL #Rookie of the #Year voting this past season, does not have an obvious starting spot. #He’s been pushed to the bench by #Kim.

#Here is #San #Diego’s projected starting lineup:

  1. CF #Trent #Grisham
  2. SS #Fernando #Tatis #Jr.
  3. 3B #Manny #Machado
  4. 1B #Eric #Hosmer
  5. LF #Tommy #Pham
  6. RF #Wil #Myers
  7. 2B #Ha-Seong #Kim
  8. C #Austin #Nola
  9. #Pitcher’s spot

The universal DH is not yet official — MLB is playing hardball for no good reason — though that is expected to happen before spring training, which would open a starting lineup spot for #Cronenworth. The easy move would be putting #Cronenworth in right and #Myers at DH, though #Cronenworth is so versatile that the #Padres could simply use the DH spot as a revolving door. They could put #Myers there one day, #Pham the next, #Hosmer the next, etc. with #Cronenworth moving around as necessary.

#For now, the bench beyond #Cronenworth includes #Caratini, speedy utility man #Jorge #Mateo, outfielder #Greg #Allen, and either utility man #Brian O’#Grady or outfielder #Jorge #Ona. I suppose the #Padres could go with #Campusano and carry three catchers — #Nola has played first, second, third, left, and right in addition to catcher in his MLB career — though the 22-year-old could use a little more minor-league seasoning. #He jumped from #High #Class-A to MLB this past season.

#Mateo and #Allen are out of minor-league options, meaning they can not go to #Triple-A without passing through waivers next season, which may ensure them a spot on the #Opening #Day roster. The #Padres may want to evaluate them during the regular season before potentially losing them on waivers. #Caratini isn’t going anywhere, so the O’#Grady/Ona/maybe #Campusano bench spot is the spot #San #Diego could look to upgrade before spring training.

#Jurickson #Profar was sneaky good this past season (113 OPS+ and 1.4 WAR) and a switch-hitter who can play just about anywhere fits well on every bench. #He’d be the ideal fit, though there’s very little chance he returns to the #Padres as a free agent. #Profar turns only 28 in #February and he’ll go to team that offers him a chance to play every day, not sit on the bench. #Profar is a great fit for the #Padres but the #Padres aren’t a good fit for #Profar, if that makes sense.

The same applies to #Enrique #Hernandez, a lefty masher who plays all over, though he figures to seek more playing time than the #Padres can reasonably promise. #Other possible bench targets could include #Marwin #Gonzalez, #Brock #Holt, #Brad #Miller, #Eric #Sogard, and personal favorite #Daniel #Robertson. #Robertson has quietly been a league average hitter while playing every position other than center field and catcher the last three years.

#Upgrading the final bench spot — literally the last spot on the 26-man roster — is hardly a top priority at the moment. #And if O’#Grady and #Ona flame out, finding a bench player on the in-season trade market is not the most difficult thing in the world. #Similar to the bullpen, the #Padres can be opportunistic and see whether they stumble into something that makes sense. #If not, that’s fine too.

3. #Lock up #Tatis

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#Now that the #Darvish and #Snell trades (and #Kim signing) are complete, signing #Tatis to a long-term extension is the #No. 1 item on #Preller’s agenda and will be for the foreseeable future. #Tatis can not become a free agent until the 2024-25 offseason, so this is not a super urgent matter, but the sooner the #Padres locked him, the greater the discount. #That’s how these deals work.

#Here’s what #Preller said about a potential #Tatis extension in #October:

“(2020) was just such a short season and such a sprint to the finish line that I don’t think there was a lot in the middle of all of that for trying to put a contract negotiation in there,” #Preller said. “#We’ll start to look more seriously at that here this offseason, and it sounds like there’s interest on both sides, so we’ll see where that goes.”

#February and #March is usually extension season. #Teams spend #November, #December, and #January addressing their roster through free agency and trades, then they work to sign their own players in #February and #March. #This offseason is moving incredibly slowly and maybe that will change the usual timeline, though we’re still a few weeks away from when extensions are typically handed out.

The #Braves gave #Ronald #Acuna #Jr. an eight-year extension worth $100 million in #April 2019. #That may seem like a natural reference point for a #Tatis extension, except #Acuna signed his deal when he was still six years away from free agency. #Tatis is only four years away from free agency because the #Padres did not manipulate his service time last year (unlike the #Braves, who kept #Acuna down just long enough in 2018 to push his free agency back one year).

The more appropriate comparison is #Alex #Bregman. #He signed a six-year deal worth $100.6 million in #March 2019, when he was four years away from free agency. #That contract valued his arbitration years at $13 million apiece and his free agent years at $30.5 million apiece. #Tatis is three years younger now than #Bregman was when he signed his extension, which gives him more leverage. #Tatis is currently scheduled to become a free agent at age 25. #Golly.

#Six years and $120 million or so may be the sweet spot for both sides. The #Padres would gain cost certainty over #Tatis’ arbitration years and buy out two free agent years. #Tatis would lock in an enormous guaranteed payday and still be able to hit free agency at age 27, which is far younger than most free agents. #He could take the $120-ish million now and still be looking at $300-plus million as a free agent in six years. #Maybe it’ll be $400-plus million by then.

#Clearly, the #Padres are prioritizing the short-term. They brought in #Darvish and #Snell to help them win right now, while #Machado and #Lamet are in their primes, and while #Tatis is on the upswing. #Preller still must be cognizant of the long-term, of course, and locking up #Tatis is imperative. #He is the franchise’s most important player since the late #Tony #Gwynn, and the #Padres want him to spend the rest of his career in #San #Diego. #Extension talks should begin in earnest soon, if they haven’t already.





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##Padres #blockbusters #moves ##Prellers #agenda

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