The San Diego Padres continued their quest to add pitching depth on Monday, inking Cuban right-hander Michel Baez, according to reports.
The San Diego Padres are still looking to bolster their pitching staff, and struggled to do so during the winter meetings. Now, fans should expect the moves to come rolling in, even if none break the bank.
Baez is a powerful pitcher with loads of potential who has yet to put it all together. Once he does, a quick rise through the minors isn’t out of the realm of possibility. This is what makes this signing much more significant than the average minor league addition.
The $3 million contract is very large for a pitcher poised to start in Single-A. But the Padres believe that Baez will serve as a valuable asset in the majors someday at best, or at least provide depth at worst. Considering his physical abilities, the best case scenario is one many feel can easily happen soon.
The Padres now have two extremely promising hurlers at the Single-A level. Both Baez and Anderson Espinoza will now be considered top prospects. Espinoza, an 18-year-old from Venezuela, currently occupies the top spot on the team’s list of top 30 prospects. As a left-hander, the youngster has even more value for the future of the organization.
Therefore, it wasn’t just raw ability that attracted general manager A.J. Preller and the front office to Baez. Timing was key in the decision as well, as their goal of contending in 2019 is much more reasonable if all of the pieces come together around the same time.
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This begins in the minor leagues, which is where Baez will start 2017. He is yet another international signing for San Diego, so there is no concrete proof that the 20-year-old will find the same success against big league hitters.
But what is known is that the young righty has tons of time to develop. The Padres will be in no hurry to get him up to the majors, ensuring that he is handled the right way to maximize his growth.
But with a contract so big, high expectations become a factor. Hopefully, Espinoza can assist in easing these expectations, and the coaches in the minors can treat the situation the right way. If this happens, the rewards of this slight risk will include a valuable pitcher who can perform in multiple roles.
With flexibility on the roster, there is no limit to what Baez can do. He can play in the role which suits him best, as the pitching staff does not have one distinct need. Though much is still unknown, the signing of this right-hander is one of the most encouraging moves the Padres could have made at this juncture of the offseason.