2017 MLB Preview: NL West- San Diego Padres
2016 Record: 68-94 (5th Place)
Manager: Andy Green
The Padres continued to recover from their disastrous 2015 offseason last season, finishing in last place in the NL West.
Wil Myers has become the face of the franchise, inking a six-year extension with the team this offseason. The 26-year-old topped his career high in home runs and RBI’s last season, finishing the year with a .259 average with 28 HR and 94 RBI’s. He was also their only position player to be selected to play in the 2016 All Star game.
2016 was a career year for Yangerivs Solarte, setting career highs in just about every offensive category. Solarte will begin the year as the team’s everyday third baseman, with his defensive versatility allowing the Padres to use him essentially anywhere they need him in the infield. Luis Sardinas was a pleasant surprise as a post-deadline acquisition, hitting .287 in 108 at bats after starting 32 at shortstop for the club. Although his performance will earn him the opening day start, Sardinas could find himself on waivers again if he does not maintain this production throughout the season.
Ryan Schimpf displayed a tremendous amount of power for a second baseman after a June call-up, hitting 20 HR in just 276 at bats last season. This power however came at the cost of his .217 batting average, however he did show a solid amount of patience at the plate with 42 walks. Alex Dickerson’s rookie season wasn’t anything special, but is still regarded as part of the Padres future plans. The 26-year-old is likely to the begin the season on the disabled list, which pretty much guarantees Travis Jankowski a spot on the roster. The team’s first round pick in 2012, Jankowski has been a disappointment in his first two seasons, hitting .238 with just 4 HR in 425 career at bats. Jankowski will have to show development if he wants to keep his roster spot, especially with the emergence of the 27-year-old Jabari Blash this spring.
Hunter Renfroe will be the everyday right fielder in their young outfield, who managed to post a .371 average with 4 HR 14 RBI’s in just 11 games last season. The 25-year-old could be a sleeper in the rookie of the year conversation, set to get a full season’s worth of at bats this season. Manny Margot completes their promising outfield at just 22-years-old, who was acquired from Boston back in 2015 as part of the Craig Kimbrel package. Ranked as the 26th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com, Margot’s ability to get on base paired along with his speed should have him hitting at the top of their lineup from the get-go.
Austin Hedges will get a shot at the starting catcher gig, who has been unable to transfer his success in Triple-A over to the majors thus far in his career. Still just 24-years-old, 2017 could be the year where he figures out major league pitching as the Padres still view him as a potential All Star catcher of their future.
The Padres starting rotation is in shambles, especially after their decision to non-tender their ace Tyson Ross this offseason, who is returning from major shoulder surgery. Clayton Richard returns to the staff on a one-year deal, who maintained an impressive 2.52 ERA in 9 starts with the Padres last season, after being released by the Cubs earlier in the year. Richard might be the only pitcher on this staff who is capable of reaching the 200-inning mark, as the 33-year-old will look to return to the formidable pitcher he once was in Chicago. The Padres also decided to add Jered Weaver to their staff later on in the offseason, coming off the worse season of his career where he allowed 37 home runs. Once the esteemed ace for the Angels, the 34-year-old will have to completely change his game after experiencing a significant decrease in velocity. Failure to make these adjustments will almost certainly have Weaver out of the rotation by the summer.
Trevor Cahill is likely to earn a rotation spot at this point in the spring, who has spent the majority of the past three seasons as a reliever after his career took a rapid downturn in 2014. Once a promising piece of Oakland’s pitching staff, the 29-year-old Cahill will look to take advantage of the pitcher-friendly Petco Park and solidify himself as a starting pitcher once again. Jhoulys Chacin will also get a shot in the rotation on a one-year-deal, who started more than 20 games last season for the first time since 2013. Chacin’s performance in these starts was underwhelming however, going 6-8 with a 4.81 ERA in 22 starts with the Braves and Angels. Like many of the starters in their rotation, Chacin’s career has come to a rapid decline over the past couple years, which will require him to show improvement to keep his rotation spot.
With Christian Friedrich struggling with arm soreness, Luis Perdomo and Jarred Cosart will battle for the final spot in the rotation. Acquired off waivers in the 2015 offseason, Perdomo struggled in 20 starts last season going 9-10 with a 5.71 ERA. Still just 23, the Padres do feel that Perdomo made progress last season, which makes him the slight-favorite in the competition. A change in uniform didn’t help Jarred Cosart last season, ending the 2016 season with a soaring 6.00 ERA over 13 starts. Cosart will need to show signs of the once-promising young pitcher he was in Miami, which at 26 years of age is not quite out of the question.
Young reliever Brandon Maurer should get the first crack at the closer role having saved 13 games for the team last season. He will have to perform significantly better than he has over his four-year career to keep the job, with their promising young reliever in Carter Capps making his return from Tommy John surgery this season.*
Bottom Line: While this team has young talent, particular in their outfield, their lineup will still fall behind in run production, not to mention their pitching staff is shaping up to be one of the worst in baseball. The Padres could find themselves with the worst record in baseball next season as they continue to rebuild.
*Stats and Info from Baseball Reference
-Featured Image from USA Today