Why Clint Barmes?
Clint Barmes? Meh.
In an off-season where the Padres have been trying to establish themselves as legitimate players for the right “impact” free agents, A.J. Preller and company passed on the biggest name shortstops available in favor of a 35-year-old, .246 career hitter to a single-year contract.
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Asdrubal Cabrera is still out there. As is Jed Lowrie. Both are significantly younger and have better offensive resumes than Barmes. Granted, neither is a true middle-of-the-order hitter, but Barmes hasn’t hit over .245 since 2008. And while some fans may remember his 23 homers in 2009, a glance at his stat page reveals that that year was an outlier, and he has only 63 homers combined in the other 11 years of his career. In 2013, he had the third lowest OPS among shortstops with at least 300 plate appearances. And this year, he only appeared in 45 games and had 102 at-bats, collecting 25 hits with no homers.
To his credit, Barmes is a better defender than Cabrera or Lowrie. His range factor per 9 innings is above the league average for his career, meaning he gets to more balls than the average shortstop. Cabrera and Lowrie are both below average, and Lowrie actually had the worst range factor among qualified shortstops in 2013.
And, although at the time of this writing, the terms of Barmes’ contract haven’t been published, his salary is likely in the $2 million-or-less range. That’s a whole lot less than either Cabrera or Lowrie is likely to sign for.
We can only assume from this signing that Preller isn’t the least bit interested in Cabrera or Lowrie. And, truth be told, neither was going to make the Padres significantly better. Cabrera’s offense has been sliding the last two years, and Lowrie, although he has shown mid-teens home run power in the past, only went deep six times in over 500 AB last year. And neither is a good enough hitter to to make you forget about his defensive shortcomings.
While Padres fans have been waiting for a blockbuster signing or trade, this one-year Barmes signing appears to be just a stopgap measure that became necessary when the team decided to cut ties with Everth Cabrera.
So, our first new player of the offseason is an above-average defensive shortstop whose best offensive days are a half-decade behind him.
Doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of player who’s going to move the Padres closer to a World Series crown, does it? Let’s hope the trade market holds greater potential for a Padres upgrade than the free agent market does.