San Diego Padres Have A Decision To Make On Josh Naylor
By Tim Ryder
Josh Naylor has quickly made a name for himself within the San Diego Padres’ organization. With the recent addition of Eric Hosmer and the presence of Wil Myers, the Friars will need to decide what to do with their young first baseman.
Josh Naylor is a fine young ballplayer. Unfortunately, the San Diego Padres may not have a place for him by the time he’s fully developed into a major league player. Over his first few years in professional baseball, Naylor has advanced at a decent pace and continues to impress with his approach and his potential.
A first-round draft pick (12th overall) of the Miami Marlins in 2015 MLB Amateur Draft, the young Canadian was coming along quite nicely in his development. He was selected to play in the 2016 MLB Futures Game held at Petco Park for his exploits in his first MiLB season.
In 98 at-bats with the Gulf Coast Marlins, Naylor slashed .327/.352/.418 and was proving his scouting reports to be right on point. The next season, split between Greensboro and Lake Elsinore (after being traded to the Padres in the Andrew Cashner deal mid-season), Naylor started to really blossom.
In a little over 500 at-bats in 2016 Naylor continued to improve (.264/.302/.407, 12 HR, 75 RBI) and in 2017 he was promoted to Double-A San Antonio as a reward. Over the course of the ’17 season, Naylor had his most impressive season as a professional.
So what should the San Diego Padres do with Josh Naylor?
His slash line of .280/.346/.415 signifies that he’s got the patience to go along with his power. In 488 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, Naylor hit 10 home runs with 64 RBI and 25 doubles.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that the Padres have yet another future major-leaguer making his way thru their minor league ranks.
Now that the San Diego Padres have secured a franchise-altering first-baseman in Eric Hosmer and moved their other star-player, Wil Myers, into right-field, Naylor will likely be blocked. Even in the case of an injury to Hosmer, Myers would still be next in line to assume the position.
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In an even darker scenario, if both of those guys got hurt the Padres would then likely turn to Chase Headey as the next man up. That’s if he’s still here, of course.
So over the next two seasons, while Josh Naylor gets MLB-ready, Friars manager Andy Green likely will not need him up at the major league level anyway.
What happens when Naylor is ready to join the Padres?
Now, once Josh Naylor is MLB-ready, what then? He’s projected as a plus-fielder and a plus-plus-hitter. The Padres’ outfield is already (and will continue to be) a very crowded and competitive group.
Plus, switching Naylor’s position could have negative effects on his psyche as a young player. The Friars definitely don’t want that.
Padres’ team brass is ultimately left with two real options. They can trade Josh Naylor while his stock is at it’s highest, possibly in a deal for a front-end starting pitcher, or they could continue to stash him away in their farm system until he forces his name in the conversation for a roster spot.
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In any case, whichever way things may play out, an over-abundance of talent at any position, especially first-base, is a very good problem for GM A.J. Preller, manager Andy Green, and the entire San Diego Padres franchise.