Over the next two weeks, 26-man rosters will take shape as teams close the book on spring training and turn their attention to the regular season. The San Diego Padres are among those clubs facing a handful of difficult decisions as Cactus League play starts to wind down.
We’ve talked all offseason about San Diego’s incredible depth. Well, with a 26-man roster, that depth is going to force AJ Preller to make some tough decisions. One of the likely guys on the outside looking in is right-hander Dan Altavilla.
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The Padres acquired the 28-year-old last summer in the same trade that netted Austin Nola. Following the trade, Altavilla pitched well for San Diego, making nine appearances and working to a 2.61 FIP out of the bullpen. That far excelled what he did up to that point in Seattle, where he got roughed up to the tune of a 5.93 ERA over 13 outings.
Under team control through the 2024 season, Altavilla could wind up being a valuable presence on the pitching staff. But given he’s out of options (along with fellow reliever Taylor Williams) his time with the Friars could be short-lived.
Padres: Depth could cost Dan Altavilla
Looking at the big picture, here’s how the bullpen currently stands.
The closer role could go to any one of a handful of candidates, including Emilio Pagán, Mark Melancon, Drew Pomeranz or Keone Kela. Obviously, whoever doesn’t close will form a formidable bridge to the ninth. Pierce Johnson, who’s currently sidelined with a minor injury, looks to have a spot locked down, as do Javy Guerra, Craig Stammen, Matt Strahm and Tim Hill.
That doesn’t even factor in the mix of young arms vying for a spot this spring. Thankfully for Altavilla, though, MacKenzie Gore looks like he could use some further seasoning in the minors – and the same goes for Ryan Weathers. Still, it’s hard to put together a situation (outside of an injury) where the right-hander gets the nod on the Opening Day roster – especially with an intense bench battle taking shape, as well.