According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the Padres plan to non-tender catcher Josh Bard this winter. They'll use Nick Hundley as the starting catcher in '09, and may add a veteran backup like Brad Ausmus.
Bard is out for the year with a strained triceps. He hit .202/.279/.270 in 198 plate appearances, also dealing with an ankle injury. The Padres would've had to pay him at least $1.79MM in '09. It's not a bad situation for Bard, though - he'll reach free agency without putting in six years of service. He'll be 30 in March as will join a weak free agent market for catchers. Small sample size, but in his last healthy season (2007) Bard hit .330/.386/.456 away from PETCO.
With Bard out of the picture, the Padres have $42.4MM committed for '09 plus arbitration raises to Jody Gerut, Scott Hairston, Heath Bell, and Clay Hensley. It seems possible the Padres could exercise Brian Giles' option and re-sign Trevor Hoffman without going too far past a $50MM payroll. Giles is included in the $42.4MM figure.
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