It has become apparent the Padres do not have any hitters on their current roster (my apologies, Seth Smith). The Padres really haven’t had a steady offensive presence since the days of Adrian Gonzalez, whom I sorely miss. Watching him play for the Dodgers is like watching your ex-girlfriend go out with a guy you know. Something needs to change. Really, one good move can turn this team around offensively. I am not talking the organization as a whole, just strictly the offense. But if we can turn around this offense, this team will contend. I am speaking more into the 2015 season. Why? This winter there will be several free agents that, if the Padres’ front office can ease the clutch on their wallets, the Padres can afford and sign. Look at the Seattle Mariners who forked over $200+ million for Robinson Cano. That organization isn’t exactly rolling in the dough either.
One good signing can inject energy into a team. We need a veteran who has a history of consistency. I want to look at some free agents the Padres could sign this winter that would be that one signing to ignite the Padres’ offense for years to come. Here is my two cents on some prospective 2015 free agents the Padres could feasibly sign, if the front office really tried.
1. Colby Rasmus, OF Blue Jays
Rasmus is 27-years-old. He is still young. His average is mediocre (better than most of the Padres right now) but he can hit for power. In 2013 he hit 22 HRs while hitting .276. This year he has 9 HRs, which would lead the Padres. He has 3 career 20+ HR seasons. He would be relatively cheap, coming from the Toronto market and he isn’t putting up eye-popping numbers. But he is someone who would boost the Padres’ offense.
2. Norichika Aoki, OF Royals
In his first 2 seasons in the MLB he hit .288 and .286 respectively. He is a threat on the base paths and a good fielder. He has a career .349 on-base percentage. He rarely strikes out, in 2013 he led the NL in at-bats per strikeout. He would be relatively cheap as well. He is 32 years old, but the way he plays the game can translate to multiple years of consistent production.
3. J.J. Hardy, SS Orioles
Sometimes I love Everth Cabrera and sometimes he makes me pull my hair out. Hardy is a better, more consistent option. He will be 32 soon, and does have some miles on him, but sometimes those are the best cars. He would be a veteran in the clubhouse that would help the young Padre hitters. For starters, he has 158 career HRs. He is a 2-time All-Star and 2-time Gold Glove winner. He is a good fielder. You can usually count on him hitting better than .260 which, again would be high on the Padres stat sheet this year. He may be a more expensive option, depending on how he finishes this year with the Orioles. He hasn’t had a powerful start but he is hitting .287.
4. Nick Markakis, OF Orioles
Markakis has been a main-stay with Baltimore going on 9 seasons. He is a consistent hitter. He won’t blow anyone away with power, he does have two 20+ HR seasons and two 100+ RBI seasons. He has a lifetime .293 average and is hitting .307 this year. He would be a nice, consistent bat in the Padres lineup. Aside from Smith and Chris Denorfia, the Padres have gotten almost no production from their outfield. Markakis is probably the longest shot of the 4 players, but it would be a nice addition.
Now, this is not me giving up on the 2014 Padres. This is me making a point that the front office needs to roll the dice. Take a chance. Could it end up being a bust? Maybe. But it still might be better than what we have now. Any sort of offensive production is better than what we have now. All these players are very affordable. I am not asking us to draw Miguel Cabrera away from Detroit or Mike Trout from the Angels, I just want to see the front office of my team show that they are trying to put together a championship team. Until that happens, the Padres will continue to play…Quadruple-A baseball.