According to a report by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Padres are shopping Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson. Hudson figures to be less of a probability based on his contract, but Bartlett may be an attractive middle-infielder for a team willing to take a chance on him after a career worst year. If the team does find a suitor for Bartlett, the hole on the left side of the infield creates an interesting situation for the Padres. How will they fill the void?
While the Padres have a highly-touted farm system, the options at shortstop are limited. Everth Cabrerra has been with the big league team off and on. He may be a viable short-term option for the Padres, but he’s proven so far not to be the long-term shortstop of the future. The team may have to turn to the open market or trades to find a decent replacement.
Until a couple days ago, I would have suggested Willie Bloomquist as a suitable replacement, but he agreed to a two year deal with the Diamondbacks. Obviously the most coveted shortstops of them all, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, are completely out of the Padres’ league, so the team is left with players willing to make about what Bartlett was scheduled to earn in 2012, $5.5 million or less.
So what’s left? Clint Barmes is available, but he would be almost a mirror image of Jason Bartlett. Bartlett hit .245/.308/.307 in 2011. Barmes hit .244/.312/.386. The Padres could probably save about $1-1.5 million a year on a contract with Barmes, but would not get much in return. There’s also Alex Gonzalez who hit .241/.270/.372. However, anyone with an OBP under .300 has to raise some serious red flags. On the other hand, he would be another player the Padres would be able to get a discount on compared to the Bartlett contract.
An interesting player on the non-free agent side of things is Ryan Theriot. He is in his 3rd year of arbitration eligibility. The Cardinals have yet to offer him arbitration and if they do not, he becomes an interesting option for a club like the Padres. He should be a relatively cheap option at shortstop with a little more offensive prowess than that of Bartlett. In 2011, Theriot hit .271/.321/.342.
Mike Fontenot is another non-tender possibility. However, he is not a shortstop. He’s a second baseman. His likely pay range of about $1-1.25 million is right in the Padres wheelhouse, but his numbers still don’t jump off the page. He hit .277/.304/.377 last season.
The Bartlett story is still developing. This entire piece could be a complete waste is the Padres keep Bartlett, but the teams seems intent on shopping him. For now, we must wait. As the Padres and their new management group start to create a niche for themselves, we’ll better understand the types of players and contracts we can expect to see the club pursue. For now, Josh Byrnes and A.J. Hinch are just playing catch-up.
If you’re interested, MLB Trade Rumors has a comprehensive list of available (or potentially soon-to-be-available) shortstops and second basemen. Check it out here.
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