Padres: Three players who won’t be back in 2021

The Padres season ended on Thursday via a sweep in the NLDS. Turning our attention to next season, I don’t expect these three players to return.

While the Padres won’t have many players who will be unrestricted free agents when the World Series officially concludes, general manager AJ Preller will have to make a few difficult decisions on players who will return next year…and those who won’t.

Let’s look at three players who likely won’t be back in 2021.

1. Kirby Yates

Kirby Yates being claimed on waivers and rise to an elite closer is an amazing story. But the 33-year-old reliever missed the majority of the season and didn’t exactly look sharp when he was able to pitch. He made $7M last year, and while there’s the potential for him to sign a one-year, prove-it deal in San Diego, I’d be more inclined to retain Trevor Rosenthal as the team’s closer going forward.

Yates collected a league-leading 41 saves last year, but who knows how he’ll return from the injury that derailed his 2020 season. The Padres bullpen remains fairly stacked next year. Best of luck elsewhere, Kirby.

2. Jurickson Profar

Profar ended up playing a bigger role than I expected. Acquired from the Athletics in the offseason, the 27-year-old had a breakout year in 2018 with the Rangers. But he failed to build upon that in Oakland, and he got off to a terrible start with the Padres. Profar finished with a .278/.343/.428 line with 7 HR and 25 RBI.

He was a lifesaver for the Friars in left field when Tommy Pham went down with an injury, but with the emergence of Jake Cronenworth at second base and Pham back next year, I don’t see where Jurickson Profar gets regular time. If he’s willing to take a pay cut to stick around, I’m all for it.

3. Garrett Richards

Signing Richards as a reclamation project worked out better than expected. If anyone benefited from the season start being pushed back, it was Garrett Richards. He made three starts at the end of last year, albeit minimal innings, as the 32-year-old worked his way back from Tommy John surgery. He did what was asked of him, posting a 4.03 ERA in 14 appearances, including 10 starts.

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Richards limited opponents to a .244 average and struck out nearly a batter-per-inning. Similar to Profar, if he’s willing to take a pay cut, I’d consider bringing him back, but Richards is likely looking to get paid one last time. He’ll latch on with another club, and his contributions for the Padres this season were invaluable.