San Diego Padres: Offseason infield decisions

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 15: Cory Spangenberg
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 15: Cory Spangenberg /

In the second installment of San Diego Padres offseason decisions we will discuss the infield decisions the club will have to make prior to 2018.

With the season winding down, the Friar front office will have some very interesting infield decisions to make between now and the beginning of spring training.

On the major league side of things, there are multiple choices just between second and third base alone. And for your die-hard Padre fans there is the ever searching black hole at shortstop.

The only positions considered locks are first base and catcher, although there could be a case made for first base not being as safe as it was when the season began.

As far as the second base/third base conundrum, at least there are plenty of options to choose from, with candidates such as Cory Spangenberg, Yangervis Solarte, and Carlos Asuaje. The abyss at shortstop however is an entirely different story. With no true options on the big league club, the front office will have to go one of two ways: Promote from within or sign another free agent.

If they decide on in-house options, the best option and closest to the big leagues would be triple-A El Paso shortstop Jose Rondon. He showed well defensively last year in a brief cup of coffee but the bat was lacking far behind.

If they go the free agent route, there would be better players to choose from than the past few seasons. No more players past their primes such as Alexei Ramirez and Erick Aybar to man the dysfunctional place.

Two names to keep up an eye in this winter. Zack Cozart of the Reds (who is having a career year), and Alcides Escobar of the Royals. Escobar coincidentally is on the opposite side of that equation. Having his worst year in the majors.

You could make a strong case for the team going in any direction with those three available options. Personally my instincts tell me their shortstop next year is currently residing on another franchisees roster.

With prospect Fernando Tats Jr. likely arriving in 2019 there isn’t a real need for a free agent signing, unless it is on a one-year deal. If that is the case, the best option among Cozart and Escobar would be Escobar.

Coming off a poor season he could be more willing to take a one year deal to try to build his value back up. This would be my choice of action. A one year deal for a former all-star caliber shortstop is never a bad idea.

Second base and third base will be fun to watch this winter. All three of the aforementioned choices are having good seasons, which should make for some great competition in the spring. That is, if they decide to keep all three.

Solarte is the wild card in all this. He could be traded, (not my hope or choice) or could be turned into a super infield utility man. Having played every infield spot except catcher, he would give manager Andy Green some much needed maneuverability.

When you add in the players down on the farm who will be arriving within the next two seasons, this really makes the infield decisions this offseason all the more important. Luis Urias, Tatis Jr., and Josh Naylor will all three be called up in the next year or two. The reality is, team will eventually have to make a choice between “The face of the franchise” Wil Myers and Naylor. Especially if Naylor keeps on his current path of development.

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The only place in the infield with foreseeable security is at catcher. Austin Hedges already is among the very best defensive catchers in the game, and has legit annual 20 homer potential.

All of the catching prospects are in the lower minors, save for high single A+ prospect Austin Allen. Who could move through the system quickly due to an advanced bat, but his defense is a work in progress.

What will make these infield decisions more difficult is that even the players that are on the current big league roster are young too. A.J. Preller and the rest of the front office will definitely earn their salaries this winter.

When the kids in the minors catch up to the current big league roster you start to get an idea of why this off-seasons infield decisions will have a profound impact on the future of the franchise.