Finally, ST has arrived, and the first ST game is today against the ChiSox. The 7-man scheduled pitching rotation for Saturday’s game is Daniel Corcino, Jaime Schultz, Kevin Quackenbush, Josh Sborz, Stetson Allie, Josh Smoker and Joe Broussard.
Sunday’s game 7 man scheduled rotation will be Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brock Stewart, Dennis Santana, Adam McCreery, Tony Gonsolin, Mitchell White, and Dustin May.
I had already written a lengthy response to Mark’s question on Corey Kluber but decided that I should stay on a more realistic and current topic rather than wishful thinking about Corey Kluber. It has been no secret that I have advocated for Corey Kluber. Aces do not come around very often. But three became available the last two years and the Dodgers whiffed on all three…Sale, Verlander, and Cole. Coincidence that the last two WS champions were able to pull the trigger on those trades? Aces do matter. And now with Kershaw’s future more cloudy than before, wouldn’t it have been nice to have Corey Kluber in the rotation? Oh well it was not to be.
I was drafting some remarks and thoughts I had on the Pads signing of Machado, but wanted to expand on that. Now that ST is here, I wanted to look at all of the NL West competition (such as it is), and I am going to start with the team that made the most recent noise…The San Diego Padres.
I have gone back and forth on the Machado signing. First of all, any player is worth at least what they are being paid. Somebody offered and the other party agreed, and there is a deal. When we say, so and so is not worth it, that is our value judgement. In this case, the Pads believed that having Machado was worth $300MM over ten years. It is irrelevant as to what everybody else thought he was worth, because all it takes is for one team to believe that you are worth $300MM. The Padres had one of the lowest attendance figures in the NL at 2.1MM. With that Hispanic fan base down south, I am guessing that attendance will jump to see Machado, Luis Urias, Francisco Mejia, and budding star Franmil Reyes all presumed to break camp with the MLB team, and Fernando Tatis Jr., due to join them some time this season. They could approach 3MM in attendance, but not without Manny Machado to get the fan base riled up for a multiyear run beginning maybe in 2020. A 30% increase at the gate and increase in jersey sales will go a long way to deferring much of that early investment.
Now just like every investment, this one can go south. But the Pads could reap some benefits before that time. I do not believe that AJ Preller even thinks the Padres are legit NL West contenders this year, but signed Machado knowing they wanted a 3B when all of their other young talent fully blossoms. The Pads have the #1 farm system, with TEN top 100 prospects, and several more just behind.
Their infield will be more than respectable with Eric Hosmer at 1B, Ian Kinsler at 2B, Luis Urias at SS (temporarily), and Manny Machado at 3B. Once Tatis Jr. joins the group, Urias will move to 2B and Kinsler will become the infield sub. But that is it. There is no other help coming. Will Myers can play the corners, but who is going to play up the middle? While the Dodgers have a ton of depth, the Padres have zero depth in the infield. I do not consider Greg Garcia that much of infield depth.
Ian Kinsler is the old man but can also be that needed veteran influence who has played in three WS and has a WS ring. With the number of kids on the roster, both Kinsler and Hosmer will be very helpful in leading. Both are quality citizens and are very helpful in the clubhouse.
Hosmer (29) – 1B
Kinsler (36) – 2B
Urias (21) – 2B/SS – #27 MLB Prospect and #1 2B prospect
Machado (26) – 3B
Tatis Jr. (20) – SS – #2 MLB prospect and #1 SS prospect
At catcher, the Padres have Austin Hedges (26) and Francisco Mejia (23). Hedges is the defensive catcher while Mejia is the offensive catcher. Hedges last year batted .231/.282/.429/.711 and 14 HRs. He hit 18 HRs in 2017. Nothing great, but did you see Barnes’ and Martin’s numbers for 2018? I know, I know. Martin is going to be this year’s Matt Kemp, and Barnes is going to revert back to 2017, and only Dodgers are capable of getting better.
The OF for the Padres has some promise as well. If I were to project their starting OF, I would start with Wil Myers in LF, Manual Margot in CF, and Hunter Renfroe in RF. Franmil Reyes, Travis Jankowski, Frenchy Cordero, and Jose Pirela will battle for the last two spots. I think this is a potential gold mine for SD, but I will get back to that later.
Wil Myers (28) – 312 PA, .253/ .318/.445/.763 –11 HRs
Manual Margot (24) – 477 PA,.245/.292/.383/.675 – 8 HRs
Hunter Renfroe (27) – 403 PA,.248/.302/.503/.805 – 26 HRs.
Franmil Reyes (23) – 261 PA,.280/.340/.498/.838 – 16 HRs – Future AS
Frenchy Cordero (24) – 139 PA,.237/.307/.439/.746 – 7 HRs
Travis Jankowski (27) – 347 PA,.259/.332/.346/.678 – 4 HRs
Jose Pirela (29) – 438 PA, .249/.300/.345/.645– 5 HRs
Renfroe’s 26 HRs with Petco as his home field is extremely impressive, as is Reyes’ 16 in 261 PA. Margot is considered an outstanding defensive CF. He had 21 DRS and a 8.9 UZR for 2018.
The Padres have a very good bullpen, led by Kirby Yates (R), Matt Strahm (L), Robert Stock (R), and Craig Stamman (R). They just signed Aaron Loup as a lefty coming out of the pen, and I think if Robbie Erlin (L) stays in the pen, he will be magnificent. The problem is that Erlin will probably be needed to start. They also have Miguel Diaz, Jose Castillo, and Phil Maton who can battle for a roster spot. The Padres have a number of prospects who can come up and get experience at the ML level in the pen. Cal Quantrill is the first to come to mind as a good relief candidate.
Where the Padres are lacking is in starting pitching. I mean reeeeaaaallllly lacking. LH Eric Lauer and LH Joey Lucchesi are the only known starters. Robbie Erlin is probably going to get a third spot. Going into ST, I would hazard a guess that RH Bryan Mitchell, Jacob Nix, and Luis Perdomo would be the leading candidates for the other two spots. Certainly not a rotation that screams NL West champions. Maybe not right out the chute, but lefty Logan Allen seems just about ready to get a chance.
Where the Padres feel extremely comfortable is that within the next two years, there will be several well thought of prospects to potentially join the rotation or the bullpen. The Padres are absolutely loaded with pitching potential:
LHP – Mackenzie Gore (19) – #13 MLB Prospect, #2 LHP
RHP – Chris Paddack (23) – #35 MLB Prospect
LHP – Adrian Morejon (19) – #46 MLB Prospect, #6 LHP
RHP – Michael Baez (23) – #57 MLB Prospect
LHP – Logan Allen (21) – #76 MLB Prospect, #8LHP
RHP – Luis Patino (19) – #83 MLB Prospect
LHP – Ryan Weathers (19) – #92 MLB Prospect, #10LHP
But the jewel of their young guns is 20-year-old RHP Anderson Espinoza, who the Padres acquired in the Drew Pomerantz trade with the Red Sox. He had TJ surgery in July 2017 and sat out the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018.
Yes, the Padres may have the best farm system, but 7 of their 10 top 100 prospects are pitchers, and 9 out their top 12 prospects. After the graduation of Tatis Jr., the three non-pitching top prospects should all be in the Show, but nobody ready in the queue. The next two closest are Buddy Reed (23), but he is presently blocked by the current seven OF. The next would be Josh Naylor but he is also blocked by the high-priced Eric Hosmer at 1B and the same seven OF. Hosmer is not going anywhere with his HUUUGE unmovable salary.
What has been speculated is that San Diego will use one or two of those OF and one or two of their top pitchers not named Mackenzie Gore to get a top of the rotation pitcher. With Lucchesi, Lauer, Erlin, and Nix already in the Show, and 9 others knocking on the door, they all cannot be on the same roster, so there are multiple prospects who can be eligible for trade. It is just knowing which ones to keep for sure. I would start with Gore, Allen, Paddack, and Espinoza as my untouchables, but if Kluber became available, all except Gore could be included.
Machado has made the Padres relevant for 2020 and 2021 at the latest. But they are going to need help this year. If I were the Padres, I would consider Gio Gonzalez on a one-year contract. That would give the Pads another LHSP if for no other reason than to face LAD who still needs to prove they can hit LHP. And it would give one of the kids another year to percolate before he was forced to make the move to MLB before he was ready.
The second thing I would do would be to sign Jose Iglesias (before the Reds). They need a quality defensive SS just in case Urias is not ready for SS. Iglesias is considering a minor league contract with the Reds, and he would be a better fit for SD. The addition of Gonzalez and Iglesias, with what they currently have could make SD a third-place team in the NL West this year.
They are just random thoughts, but with Machado, Tatis Jr., Urias, Hedges, Mejia, Franmil, Margot, Renfroe, Hosmer and the vast pitching posse, the Padres could certainly be in a position to contend in the near future. If you consider the Dodgers prospects as top notch, then you cannot ignore how good the Padres prospects can be. Many are ready to sing the praises of Dustin May, but the Padres have 4 pitchers considered better than May at least by MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. To be fair, FanGraphs did rate May ahead of all SD pitcher prospects. Regardless the Pads have multiple pitching prospects that could be difference makers in a couple of years. Others could be used in trades for other player needs.