San Diego Padres: What Good is Erick Aybar Doing?

jgoehring
Apr 10, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Erick Aybar (8) turns a double play at second in the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Padres won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Erick Aybar (8) turns a double play at second in the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Padres won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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The San Diego Padres have a slew of prospects at the shortstop position for fans to get excited about. In the meantime, watching a veteran during a rebuilding year can become frustrating.

At this point, it is a reasonable assumption to make that the San Diego Padres are indeed going through a rebuilding season, as anticipated. Despite winning three straight, the club is still just 8-10, and already 3.5 games back of first place in the tough National League West division.

In the midst of a season which figures to be not a whole lot of fun to watch, there are some bright spots across the diamond, mostly in the form of promising rookies. Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Ryan Schimpf, and Austin Hedges have already revealed their potential. Others such as Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte have also given fans reason to believe in a better future.

But one position proves to be the exception, and that is the shortstop position. In one of the most critical spots on the field, San Diego has veteran Erick Aybar starting after bringing him in at the last minute before the beginning of spring training.

Aybar is not playing poorly enough to be replaced this soon in the season, but his role can still be seriously put into question.

Sure, San Diego wants to win, and they want to win now. It isn’t yet time to completely enter all out rebuild mode. However, starting a 33-year-old who is not under contract for the long term and is clearly on the back end of his career doesn’t seem productive. It would make sense for a club who expects to compete, but not so much the Padres.

So what good is Aybar doing the organization long term? Are there reasons to start him at a critical position such as shortstop? There are, actually.

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The most logical reasoning behind starting Aybar is to allow him to mentor the other two young shortstops on the roster who are not yet ready to start, Luis Sardinas and rule V pick Allen Cordoba. The veteran can fill the gap at the position that the Padres have this season, hopefully teaching Cordoba and Sardinas useful bits of information along the way.

The other possibility is that the Padres are waiting until the deadline, thinking that anything they can get for Aybar is a bonus. In a way it is, since the organization didn’t need to give anything up to acquire the native of the Dominican Republic. If Aybar can have a productive first half, San Diego can continue their rebuilding process by picking up a prospect or two from a contender who is in need of a shortstop.

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Either way, the reasoning isn’t clear at the moment. It can be puzzling and sometimes frustrating to see the veteran playing while young and exciting players with potential are sitting on the bench. In the long run though, Aybar could serve an important purpose even if he never plays for the Padres beyond 2017. Never underestimate the importance bridging a gap, and when it comes to San Diego’s situation at shortstop in 2017, this is exactly what they need to do.

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