We all know at this point about the huge Matt Kemp trade the Padres pulled off early Thursday.
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Now they must turn their attention to the corner infield positions where teams go for power. They missed out on 1B Adam LaRoche, who signed with the revamped White Sox, as well as former Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval who signed with the Red Sox.
A couple immediate options that come to mind are taking a shot at Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks. He is now blocked by Pablo at 3rd and could come cheap after an injury-plagued 2014 and a rough 2013. He did however hit .288 and 15 HR in 70 games in 2012. Another one is Casey McGehee, who just won the 2014 NL Comeback Player of the Year after playing 2013 in Japan. Obviously Chase Headley is still a free agent, which this site has extensively gone into why that is a bad idea. Then you have smaller names like Andy Marte, Andy LaRoche, and even ole Kevin Kouzmanoff. The problem with most of these names is that the Padres currently have a player in Yongervis Solarte who fits the role of “Well, they might turn into something…”. In fact, I think Solarte has a higher upside than any of the other players I just mentioned. What will AJ Preller do?
I am still a fan of giving Tommy Medica more of a shot at the full time first base position after showing flashes of settling in at different times throughout last season. Jedd Gyorko is another big questions mark that is huge for the short-term and mid-term future of this franchise at 2B, especially after the extension he was given last year on his way to battling the Mendoza line. I think if the Padres can count on him to come back AND continue to pursue corner infield hitters with power, that is when they will really be in the golden zone.
The Padre Faithful are excited about what Matt Kemp brings to the table. More than that, it was a huge statement move by new GM AJ Preller in asserting his stake in the ground that the Padres are relevant again. They will come up when discussing free agents and even able to pull off trades where they aren’t just selling off their players. This next move though is where we might really see Preller shine. The great GMs of the game aren’t at their best when they make the moves you expect – but when they pull off the unexpected. Just how AJ fills out the rest of the Padres infield may show us where he stands in the current GM pantheon.