Latest buzz indicates Padres could splurge on surprise position
Addressing the starting rotation and bullpen was always going to top the San Diego Padres’ priority list this offseason.
Fittingly, general manager AJ Preller got off to a roaring start in that regard by re-signing Robert Suarez, the club’s potential closer of the future, and versatile right-hander Nick Martinez, who exceeded expectations on a one-year contract worth $7 million in 2022.
The Padres likely aren’t done bolstering their pitching staff, but retaining Suarez and Martinez allows Preller and Co. to turn their attention elsewhere for the time being. Fans would love to see Juan Soto extended, but that’s likely to come at a later date, as the roster has more pressing needs that command attention.
Outfield is a potential area of need with Jurickson Profar testing the free agent waters, and Trent Grisham being a potential trade candidate before the non-tender deadline, but Preller might have a bigger splash in the works.
Per insider Jon Heyman of the New York Post, San Diego has emerged as a player in the robust shortstop market.
Could the Padres splurge on another shortstop this winter?
"“The top end of the shortstop market seems to be expanding now with the Yankees and Padres showing interest, bringing to 11 the number of teams possibly in the market for one of four marquee free-agent shortstops,” Heyman reported."
For what it’s worth, Heyman ranked the Padres No. 10 of the 11 teams expected to be involved in the shortstop market.
"“No one believed they’d sign Eric Hosmer, much less Manny Machado. But here we are. The Padres put winning first, and good for them. Fernando Tatis Jr. seems ticketed for the outfield. Ha-Seong Kim did a nice job filling in, but we’ve learned never to count out the Padres.”"
Fernando Tatis Jr. joining the outfield is the all-important factor here. If Profar leaves, Tatis could fill the opening in left field. Depending on whom the Padres sign — Trea Turner’s history playing center field would seemingly give them the most flexibility — Bob Melvin could shift Ha-Seong Kim to second base and Jake Cronenworth to first.
In theory, that would take the Padres out of the market for a first baseman, which is another need with Josh Bell and Wil Myers, who had his 2023 club option declined, hitting free agency. For what it’s worth, Cronenworth, who’s made two consecutive All-Star games, has logged 54 career games at first base, including 32 starts.
Fair to argue he’d make a seamless transition to a full-time role at first.
While we aren’t expecting one of Trea Turner, Dansby Swason, Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts to end up in San Diego, the Padres are seemingly always big-name hunting with Preller pulling the strings, so you can’t rule them out.
What do you think, Padres fans? Should Preller splash the cash one one of the four marquee shortstops this offseason? If so, which one should he pursue?
Whatever happens, this rumor has the potential to flip San Diego’s offseason upside down if it comes to fruition.