The San Diego Padres have interest in numerous different infielders.
As day three of the 2018 Winter Meetings slowly wrap up, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal injected more San Diego Padres rumors into the conversation, claiming that shortstops Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers, Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and former Diamondback Daniel Descalso are all potential targets to fill the current roster void at shortstop.
On Tuesday, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reported that the Padres have been in talks with Freddy Galvis about returning to the roster, with Galvis understanding that he would be the shortstop only until Fernando Tatis Jr is ready for full-time major league duties. Andy Green had nothing but high praise for Galvis throughout the season and continued to sing his praises during an interview at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday afternoon, noting his love of the defense that Galvis brought to the Padres infield.
Galvis became a fan favorite among many fans, myself included, however, his .248 average at the plate and .299 on-base percentage leave a lot to be desired. The list of names thrown out by Ken Rosenthal provides slightly more intrigue, beginning with Nick Ahmed.
Gold Glove Award Winner Nick Ahmed.
I already know what you are thinking, most of Ahmed’s numbers are worse than what Galvis put up in 2018, which is true. In his first healthy season in a long while, Ahmed hit .234 with a .290 OBP, but he also put up 16 home runs and 33 doubles, nearly doubling his career totals in both metrics (2018 was his fifth season in the bigs).
It was Ahmed who beat out Freddy Galvis for the National League Gold Glove Award, posting 21 Defensive Runs Saved, second only to Oakland’s Matt Chapman (29). His glove and cheap contract (estimated under $5 million in arbitration this season) are attractive, but that bat is highly questionable.
If there are positives to point to, Ahmed significantly dropped his groundball rate (from 48% to 41%) and hit the ball harder than ever before, registering a “hard-hit” ball in 39% of his at-bats, a career-high by 7%. Could those two numbers, along with his .265 BABIP suggest slightly bigger numbers at the plate in 2019? Possibly. Or he continues to be normal Nick Ahmed at the plate.
When it comes to the potential cost for Ahmed, who knows. Does anyone know exactly what the Diamondbacks are doing? After losing Patrick Corbin via free agency and Paul Goldschmidt via trade, the organization is shopping Zack Greinke but insists on keeping Robbie Ray and refuses to call this a rebuild. Ok.
Free Agent Daniel Descalso is alright.
Simply put, Descalso would be another replacement-level utility infielder and the only reason this move would be fine is the fact that San Diego would not have to trade away anyone and he can be signed for a very cheap price.
The nine-year MLB veteran slashed .238/.353/.436 last season with 13 home runs, 22 doubles, and three triples. He played first base, second, third, and left field in 2018 and has played 179 career games at shortstop, but has made only one appearance at the position over the past two seasons.
Signing Descalso could mean a platoon situation at shortstop, with Greg Garcia handling RHP better and Descalso suiting up against lefties, and then moving him across both the infield and outfield once Tatis Jr is ready. Despite a low payroll and the ability to spend on a player like Marwin Gonzalez for this role, the Padres have given no indication that they are prepared to spend big, meaning Descalso is likely right in their price range.
Jurickson Profar is the top option here.
Trips back and forth between the major leagues and minor leagues, with numerous injuries along the way, were finally put behind Profar in 2018 as the 25-year-old finally played a full season of major league baseball, hitting .254 with 20 home runs, 35 doubles, and a .335 OBP in 146 games. Posting a 2.9 fWAR season, Profar struck out in less than 15% of his at-bats and accumulated a near 10% walk rate, two fantastic numbers.
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He is the supposed heir to the recently retired Adrian Beltre at third base, however, Profar has been involved in numerous trade rumors since the start of the winter meetings and could be a solid piece for the Rangers to trade away for much-needed prospect depth, something the Padres have plenty of.
Like the other two names mentioned by Rosenthal and the previously mentioned Marwin Gonzalez (per Dennis Lin), Profar played multiple positions in 2018, appearing at every spot on the infield. Unfortunately, the defensive metrics didn’t like Profar on the left side of the infield, the two spots he would play, should San Diego trade for him.
At the end of the day, Profar is young, has two years of control left, and did exactly what you would hope an oft-injured, struggling, high-upside player would do in a rebuilding season…improve and show he is a major league quality player.
With just one day left at this year’s Winter Meetings, will the Padres make a move? I did a quick radio spot on Tuesday and said the Padres would have a very quiet trip to Las Vegas, thinking that would mean a flurry of moves to naturally occur. As the hours pass by, it appears it will indeed be a largely quiet Vegas experience.