When the Padres acquired Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton the whole world knew at least some of the Padres regular outfielders would find a new home. The Padres had 15 different players patrol the outfield at different times in 2014 and 11 of them are still with the team. Add that to three newly acquired ones and you have over half a roster of outfielders.
Clearing the logjam isn’t nearly as daunting as it seems. Alexi Amarista, Cory Spangenberg and Yangervis Solarte are all more likely to figure into the infield mix rather than the outfield. Rymer Liriano and Jake Goebbert will most likely start the season in the minors. That leaves just nine guys, but that’s still way too many. If we take out the three recently acquired guys then we’re left with six outfield trade chips. The most intriguing of those six being Seth Smith.
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Right after the Padres acquired Kemp the Seth Smith rumors began swirling with the Mariners at the forefront. The deal makes perfect sense. The Padres have an abundance of outfielders and the Mariners outfield offensive production was terrible in 2014. They’ve begun to remedy that by adding Nelson Cruz and Justin Ruggiano, but Ruggiano struggles against righties and is best served in a platoon role. That’s where Smith fits in so well.
Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reported yesterday that the Mariners have made offers for Smith, but it appears nothing is close at this time. So why are the Padres reluctant to deal Smith right now? He’s coming off a career year, and is signed to an affordable two year deal. His value will never be higher and the Padres have a reason to move him.
What it comes down to is that he’s a lefty. The Padres projected lineup at this point of the offseason would include jut two lefties, Amarista and Yonder Alonso. There’s also just eight left handed hitters on the 40 man roster, most of whom won’t be on the Opening Day roster barring any major injuries between now and then.
Smith was also far and away the team’s most productive hitter in 2014. His wRC+ of 133 and wOBA of .357 were head and shoulders above the rest of the Padre hitters. He also led the team in batting average, on-base percentage,and slugging percentage. While he wasn’t up against tough competition, he was still impressive. While the Padres no longer have a dearth of quality hitters, keeping around another one isn’t going to hurt.
Lastly, loyalty could keep Smith in San Diego. Last season while in the midst of a career season and playing for a team without a GM, Smith signed a two year extension. Despite having a chance to cash in on the open market and the team having no clear direction at the moment, he committed himself to the Padres.
It may not have been A.J. Preller’s decision to keep Smith around for another two seasons it may be in his best interest to stay true to the contract. For one it’s a bad look for a new GM if he doesn’t reciprocate the loyalty shown by Smith showing that he may not care about the players, and also it’s the right thing to do. He sacrificed his first big chance at free agency to stick with the Padres, but sometimes the business baseball isn’t about the morally correct thing to do.
There are offers out there for Smith and it makes sense to deal him at his peak value, but we’ll have to wait and see what Preller does. Based on his willingness to get rid of just about everybody I’d expect him to be moved, but can we really predict anything Preller will do?