Padres 2024 Opening Day roster projection 1.0: Top prospect solves outfield shortage

Who will take the field for the Padres during the first game of the 2024 season?
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Diego Padres got their first taste of Cactus League play this week with a 14-1 thrashing at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Things couldn't have gone much worse for new manager Mike Shildt and the Juan Soto-less Friars, but these exhibition contests don't count toward the 162 games the Padres will play in 2024.

Shildt may have given Pads fans some idea of how the Friars' skipper is planning to fill out his lineup card on Opening Day, but spring training provides managers and front office executives plenty of opportunities to see what's working and what's not ahead of the upcoming season.

The Padres have more questions than answers with Soto and Trent Grisham off to the Bronx, half their rotation from 2023 pitching for other clubs, and only three outfielders on the 40-man roster. What might the Padres 2024 Opening Day roster look like when San Diego heads off to Korea next month for the Seoul Series?

Padres 2024 Opening Day roster projection 1.0: Top prospect solves outfield shortage

Padres Opening Day infield (9)

  • Ha-Seong Kim
  • Xander Bogaerts
  • Jake Cronenworth
  • Eguy Rosario
  • Kyle Higashioka
  • Manny Machado
  • Luis Campusano
  • Matthew Batten
  • Graham Pauley

The everyday spots in the Padres infield should not be up for debate. Kim and Bogaerts will be the Friars double-play combo in 2024. Bogaerts will find a new home at the keystone after Mike Shildt made the switch earlier this spring.

If Manny Machado is healthy following offseason surgery, he'll obviously take his rightful place at third base. If not, then the Padres will be shuffling players like Matthew Batten and Eguy Rosario at the hot corner. Even if Machado is healthy, both Batten and Rosario will probably leave Peoria with a ticket for San Diego.

Look for Luis Campusano to get the lion's share of starts behind home plate this season, but don't discount the presence of Kyle Higashioka on the Friars' roster either. The longtime New York Yankees backstop should bring a calming effect to a young Padres pitching staff.

Graham Pauley, after a stint in the Arizona Fall League, is one of the more interesting players present at Padres camp this spring. If given enough opportunities in Cactus League play, Pauley will have a legitimate chance to land on the Padres Opening Day roster. The question, however, is where he fits defensively. But if Pauley's bat plays, Shildt will find a place for his glove.