OF Jose Azocar
Yes, Jose Azocar is one of only two outfielders currently on the Padres 40-man roster. But Azocar's performance in 2023 just wasn't good enough to warrant a prolonged stay. The hope among Padres fans is that Preller does enough between now and Opening Day to bolster the roster and be sure that Azocar isn't on the field during the Seoul Series.
Preller has done a nice job of shoring up the bullpen after the departure of Josh Hader, but the Padres' top executive has done very little to replace the losses of Juan Soto and Trent Grisham. While no one player is going to be able to replicate the production of both Soto and Grisham, Preller needs more than just a warm body patrolling the outfield at Petco Park alongside Fernando Tatis Jr. in 2024.
Azocar is a good enough defender that the Padres could hide him on club's Triple-A roster as a depth piece, but there's no need for Azocar to maintain a 40-man roster spot. The 27-year-old doesn't hit for average, he doesn't hit for power, and even lacks the ability to simply get on base.
The days of carrying a glove-first centerfielder are all but over, and Azocar's defense isn't good enough to even warrant that. Azocar has spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues, and aside from a 23-game stretch at Triple-A in 2022, he's never posted a collective OPS above .800. The Friars still have some work to do, and it starts by moving on from Azocar and upgrading the outfield.