There are two things that you can conclude from the series of Padres moves. One, they aren’t done. Not by a long shot. They have as many outfielders as ladies that Leonardo DiCaprio is partying with. Secondly, the new Padres brass has a lot of faith in Austin Hedges developing in the next year or two.
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Why? Well, Yasmani Grandal, a young catcher was shown the door, whether he wasn’t liked as much as Rene Rivera in the clubhouse, or because he was suspended for PED usage, doesn’t matter. The point is he’s gone. Rivera is too. In comes Ryan Hanigan and Tim Federowicz (Matt Kemp trade pending).
Hanigan is 34 years old and in the past two seasons has a combined .186 average. He ain’t exactly Mike Piazza with the bat. In fact, his defense is declining. According to Statcorner’s catching reports, Grandal was the far superior defensive catcher, AND Hanigan is in a steep decline.
That means Austin Hedges better develop and develop quickly.
I wrote earlier in the off-season that Hedges should be the guy dealt and not Grandal. Hedges could be ready right now to catch in the majors defensively, but that bat is well behind the glove.
In his age 21 season, Hedges hit just .225 in 113 games at AA last season. Does he need another year down there and then a cup of coffee at AAA to get the bat ready? Or is he Chris Stewart?
The Padres deals for corner outfield bats changed their catching situation as well. They are banking on Hedges’ bat. Like with the acquistions of Wil Myers and Kemp, they better be right about Hedges bat too.