The problem with building one of the deepest farm systems in baseball is you eventually run out of room. The San Diego Padres are going to have to be very creative this offseason.
It is a topic that has already been discussed in great detail and is sure to continue to draw an extreme amount of attention this offseason, but the San Diego Padres have a Rule-5 draft problem. Having too many outstanding prospects is a great problem to have, one any franchise would welcome, however, it is now going to force AJ Preller and company to get creative.
Don’t expect the Padres to be lucky again and have teams pass over available players, such as Franmil Reyes last season (would love to know how many GMs are still kicking themselves over passing on Reyes).
Chris Paddack and Anderson Espinoza will surely find themselves on the 40-man roster. There are plenty of expendable players the Padres can let go of to make room. If San Diego decides to keep Austin Allen, finding room for him will be no problem, either. Seeing as the organization sent Allen to the Arizona Fall League, one can assume it is because they want Allen as close to major league ready as possible, quickly. Or is this a showcase for the rest of the league?
Either way, there are other names that are borderline. Should San Diego make room for Pedro Avila, who may be undersized but possesses a potential major league quality three-pitch mix? Edward Olivares continues to strikeout at a very high clip, but is the speed and power combination enough to warrant a 40-man spot? Both are very real, very tough questions the Padres now face.
Let’s talk about another borderline player on this list of Rule-5 eligible players, Ty France.
Will the San Diego Padres protect Ty France?
It feels like when you want to discuss any potential roster move for the San Diego Padres, the first response is always, “it depends on what the team does with Wil Myers.” What’s even more frustrating is the fact that a .250 hitter with no position on defense, zero leadership qualities, and a contract that may prevent any sort of valuable trade, is handcuffing this roster.
To address Ty France, let’s first address Wil Myers. AJ Cassavell wrote this piece about Myers a few days ago, discussing four different options the team can take with Myers. Let’s choose option C and say Myers rotates between third base and the outfield, depending on the matchup.
Who plays third base when Myers goes to the outfield in this scenario? Christian Villanueva can mash left-handed pitching but hit just .189 against RHP. His defense was also sketchy, although it did show signs of improvement before his season ended prematurely with an injury. Andy Green seemed determined to have Villanueva move around the infield as a super utility player and that could still be an option moving forward.
Carlos Asuaje shouldn’t be on the major league roster. Corey Spangenberg does a great job of getting on base, can play solid defense, and can even hold his own on the pitcher’s mound to save the bullpen in a blowout game, but has he done enough to keep a roster spot? Could Ty France match his offensive production? Probably.
The unknown prospect with pop.
A former 34th-round draft selection out of San Diego State University, France played well in his first three seasons in the organization but never put up any eye-opening statistics. That changed this season as France found himself playing for the AA San Antonio Missions and AAA El Paso Chihuahuas in 2018.
Between both levels, France hit .267 with a .355 OBP and .819 OPS. He collected 22 home runs, 30 doubles and a career-high .245 ISO. He played in just 25 games at El Paso so this was a lot more than just the El Paso air.
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France has never posted a wRC+ under 104 or a strikeout rate higher than 18.4% at any stop throughout the minors. His breakout season came this year in Double-A, arguably the level of minor league ball with the best competition.
Here’s what Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs said about France back in June.
"France has 55 raw power and has posted above-average strikeout rates throughout his pro and college careers. He’s a bit of a defensive tweener but has enough stick that he seems likely to play some kind of big-league role, be it as a platoon bat for corner bench option."
Sounds like the exact type of player the Padres are need of, in this situation. If France works out, outstanding. If he doesn’t, Hudson Potts is waiting in the wings.
If France is in another system, he is a Top 30 prospect, meaning if he is left unprotected, another franchise will be happy to take him. Hopefully, the San Diego Padres find a way to protect France and take a look at him. They may be surprised. We all might.