The Padres enter the 2015 off-season the same way they entered the 2014 off-season when it comes to the shortstop position. Last year they had decided to let go of Everth Cabrera, whose one year of all around success was overshadowed by his ensuing suspension for involvement in the BioGenesis scandal. That was followed up by sub-par performance before a DUI and resisting arrest episode. So the Padres instead went with veteran Clint Barmes and in-house option Alexi Amarista. Complete failure. So we know they need a shortstop. Could the trade that sent their best shortstop prospect Trea Turner lead to them being able to sign Ian Desmond?
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At 30 years old, Desmond is at a good age to still sign for a multi-year deal. While Desmond’s batting average dropped to a career low last season at .233, he still swatted 9 home runs and is a great bet to bounce back closer to his career norms of .264/.312/.736. He also committed more errors last season than he had since 2010 and which is trending in the wrong direction. Amarista and Barmes combined for 20 errors in 2015 and certainly the offense even a subpar Desmond brings outweighs any defensive misgivings.
The biggest hang-up of course with Desmond will be cost. With some long-term commitments already on the books for the Padres in Matt Kemp and James Shields to start – the Padres can’t afford to swing and miss on another key cog of their team. While ownership has indicated willing to spend more money this year than even last year – Desmond is likely to require a $100M multi-year deal expecting around $16M a year. Unless the Padres shed a few bigger contracts like Craig Kimbrel perhaps – it would be hard to see them pursuing Desmond aggressively.
The key to free agency is getting the players you need and not overpay or over-commit. Last year the Padres waited a little longer and ended up getting a better deal on James Shields than they would’ve early on in the winter. Whether or not they will be able to do the same this winter remains to be seen.