Which third base option would be the best fit for the San Diego Padres as they head into the 2019 season?
The San Diego Padres need a third baseman. Christian Villanueva is now in Japan, Cory Spangenberg is gone, and the current options for starting in the hot corner consists of Greg Garcia, Ty France, and Jason Vosler (acquired from the Chicago Cubs). Wil Myers is the incumbent at the position, but the organization doesn’t appear sold at having him return to the position in 2019. It may also be safe to say that a majority of fans would rather not see Myers return to third base next season.
San Diego has been connected to numerous third basemen since this past season’s trade deadline. Discussions involving a deal for Philadelphia third baseman Maikel Franco seemed hot at the deadline, weren’t acted upon, and then resurfaced as soon as the offseason began. There haven’t been any discussions since, as the Phillies look to spend “stupid” money over the coming weeks. Maybe a big splash in free agency changes this and the Padres can pull in Franco for a respectable price, but the odds that Philly bring in their major targets seem low, having already lost out on Patrick Corbin.
Brief rumors circulated about the team having interest in Cincinnati Reds young All-Star Eugenio Suarez, however, the Reds quickly shut those rumors down. While many fans were vocal about going out to acquire Atlanta Braves utility man Johan Camargo (we also discussed this topic), after Atlanta signed Josh Donaldson earlier this offseason, no official discussions about this were made public and Atlanta doesn’t need to unload the 25-year-old.
So, if you were to pick who the Padres should place at the top of their target list, who do you put at the top?
Third base options for the San Diego Padres.
After news of the Ian Kinsler signing broke, Padres beat writers quickly commented that the acquisition does not mean Luis Urias is moving in a trade, instead, the current plan is to have Urias move to shortstop until Fernando Tatis Jr.is ready for full-time major league duties. Once Tatis is up, Urias will move back to second and Kinsler could move to third base. At a low price tag of $8 million, there won’t be an urge to ensure Kinsler gets his at-bats and keeping him in a utility role may be his best option after showing two-straight seasons of declining offensive production.
San Diego has a chance to bring stability to the third base position this offseason and if they want to start moving the needle towards playoff contention, adding stability here would be another step towards that.
Josh Harrison is 31, his batting average has taken significant dips in each of his last five seasons, and his on-base percentage was a very Padres-like .293. Mike Moustakas is 30 and the asking price is going to be steep. The odds of him signing the type of deal the Padres want to hand out are low. Marwin Gonzalez, another player the Padres have been connected to, is highly intriguing. However, the switch-hitting, super utility player is in high demand this offseason.
The name at the top of the list should be New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar. As Ken Rosenthal recently noted ($), many executives around the league believe New York is trying to move the 23-year-old who finished behind Shohei Ohtani in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
More from Friars on Base
- Jurickson Profar free agency update likely rules out Padres reunion
- Fernando Tatis Jr. may not take to outfield move after Xander Bogaerts addition
- Padres News: Fernando Tatis Jr. trade rumors, Seth Lugo chase, Manny Machado
- Padres barely missed out on high-end veteran starting pitcher
- This veteran DH target seems ideal for contending Padres roster
"One rival executive views the Padres as a possible destination for Andújar, considering their need for a third baseman and apparent willingness to settle for less defensive skill at the position. San Diego pursued Pablo Sandoval as a free agent in the 2014-15 offseason. They have engaged the Phillies in talks about Maikel Franco. They even tried Wil Myers at third last season."
Andujar finished his rookie season with 27 home runs, 47 doubles, a .297 average, and a .328 OBP. He may not walk very much (25 free passes in 606 plate appearances) but he doesn’t swing and miss (16% strikeout rate) and hits for enough average to compensate for the low walk rate.
There’s little questioning his future value at the plate, it’s his defense that causes raised eyebrows and disappointed head shaking. One of the worst defenders in the game, Andujar finished with -25 Defensive Runs Saved and an Ultimate Zone Rating of -16.0. Among the 29 third baseman who logged at least 500 innings at the position, Andujar ranked last in DRS (Rafael Devers was next on the list with -13 DRS) and UZR (Colin Moran finished next-to-last with a -6.6 UZR).
Andujar is working on fixing his defense this offseason, even receiving an invitation ($) from Adrian Beltre to work on his game. Of note, San Diego promoted 17-year MLB veteran Damion Easley to assistant hitting coach. He will also work with the San Diego infield unit. Could he also aide in developing Andujar’s defense?
Manny Machado is currently on his free agent tour and if the Yankees (who he has openly preferred since his days with Baltimore) are able to secure the superstar, perhaps they become even more eager to move Andujar. An infield of Eric Hosmer, Luis Urias, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Miguel Andujar could be quite the combination.