Padres could look to middle infield depth at the trade deadline

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

I’m sure a lot of you are going to be upset that I’m talking about possible trade deadline moves before pitchers and catchers even report to camp.

But that’s too bad. That’s what you do when you think, like I do with this Padres team, that a deadline move to add that one missing piece may very well prove to be the difference between whether or not we’re celebrating a World Series championship come the fall.

Earlier in the offseason, I opined the team should go for it right now and trade for Milwaukee left-hander Josh Hader. More than a few of you had some major concerns with that line of thinking, instead believing the Padres should take a wait-and-see approach as the season progresses.

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With that in mind, let’s assume the team has an area of need come the trade deadline in July. If you’re looking at the organization, as a whole, there’s one area that stands out as particularly strong and that’s the middle infield (you could also make a case for catcher given Luis Campusano is waiting in the wings).

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the shortstop now – and for years to come. It’s not worth even discussing that. He’s not just one of the best players on this San Diego roster, he’s one of the best players in all of baseball.

Padres have a ton of depth at second

At second base, though, the Padres are up to their eyes in options. You’d think winning the international free agent bidding for Ha-Seong Kim would solve the second base question, right? I mean, you don’t usually cough up $28 million for a guy unless you plan on him being a starter.

But San Diego also has last year’s NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Jake Cronenworth to consider. Cronenworth is definitely more of a utility-type player and will see time behind Tatis at short and Eric Hosmer at first. But at first, the team could also pivot to Victor Caratini, as well. 

Cronenworth enjoyed a tale of two seasons last year, dominating early on and flaring out down the stretch. It’s anybody’s guess which guy we’ll see in 2021.

Lastly, San Diego brought Jurickson Profar back in free agency. He’s reportedly open to doing whatever is asked of him and playing whatever role and position helps the team win. So you’ll definitely see him all over the diamond this season, depending on matchups and whatnot.

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All this to say, there’s a chance one of these players is dangled as trade bait if the Padres choose to go out and add a shutdown reliever or shore up another position ahead of the deadline. You deal from a position of depth and strength – and right now, second base certainly looks like that position for San Diego.