Padres reportedly targeting former AL MVP as first base solution
You just knew San Diego Padres general manager AJ Preller wouldn’t sit on his hands once the offseason started.
Between re-signing Robert Suarez and Nick Martinez, the Padres’ pitching staff has a lot more clarity heading into 2023, though fans should still expect the club to add more reinforcements in the weeks and months to come.
For now, though, Preller can shift his attention elsewhere. As of this writing, the outfield has burning question marks, particularly in left field with Jurickson Profar declining his player option to test the free agent market.
With Fernando Tatis Jr. a candidate to shift to the outfield after an error-plagued 2021 at shortstop, the Padres are rumored to be in mix for one of Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts, per the latest buzz.
Given that it could take a while for the shortstop market to unfold, Preller seems to have another trick up his sleeve.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, San Diego has been in contact with Jose Abreu’s representatives and consider the former AL MVP “a top priority” this offseason with a need at first base and designated hitter.
The Padres are reportedly pursuing White Sox slugger Jose Abreu.
With the futures of Wil Myers (team optioned declined), and Josh Bell and Brandon Drury (both free agents) all uncertain, Abreu is a logical target for the Padres, who are obviously in win-now mode after their historic trade deadline splurge and falling three wins short of a World Series appearance in 2022.
The Padres have exceeded the luxury tax threshold in each of the last two seasons, making Abreu, who’s entering his age-36 season in 2023, a cost-effective target. The former Rookie of the Year hasn’t made an All-Star team since 2019, but he’s still one of the game’s most feared sluggers. This past season, Abreu hit .304/.378/.446 with 15 home runs 75 RBI, 40 doubles and 85 runs scored over 157 games.
Another plus to pursuing Abreu? Having already been issued a qualifying offer from Chicago in 2019, he wasn’t eligible for a QO this offseason.
If the Padres sign a player who turned down a qualifying offer, they would forfeit their second- and fifth-highest picks in the 2023 draft and have their international signing bonus pool reduced by $1 million. Not exactly ideal with the club reportedly keen on coveted Japanese right-hander Kodai Senga.
At the end of the day, Abreu would be a great get for San Diego. His power was down relative to his career output, but he’s perennially hit for average, power and extra bases in his career, has never played fewer than 128 games in a 162-game regular season, and has had great success in October, albeit in a small sample size.
Abreu’s contract would put the Padres close to the tax threshold, but they have significant money coming off the books after 2023.
Not only would signing Abreu fill a major hole (Josh Bell didn’t live up to the billing post-trade deadline), but it would give Bob Melvin more flexibility as far as deploying Tatis, Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim in the infield.
Seriously, who would say no to this?