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Padres Close To Deal With Brad Hawpe

4:48pm: The Padres are "close" to a deal with Hawpe, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

4:09pm: The Padres are considering Russell Branyan and Brad Hawpe as they look to acquire a first baseman. Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the club is talking to Hawpe, who has been a target since earlier in the month (Twitter link).

The Padres are open to making Branyan part of a platoon at first base, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney. Branyan excels against right-handed pitching (.241/.340/.501 career line), but struggles against lefties. If the Padres combined Branyan with a right-handed hitter like Kyle Blanks, they could get affordable production.

Blanks is recovering from Tommy John surgery and there's a good chance he won't be ready to start the season. Branyan hit 25 homers last year and 31 in 2009, but he has missed time with an assortment of back issues over the course of the past two seasons. Those injuries limited his value last offseason and he settled for a $2MM guarantee though he hoped for a multiyear deal.

Nick Johnson, another first baseman who bats from the left side and has dealt with back injuries, could fill a similar role for the Padres, in my opinion. Adam LaRoche is another possibility, but he has been discussing a three-year deal with the Orioles and the Padres rarely hand out multiyear free agent contracts (Orlando Hudson's deal is the exception, not the rule).

Another one of San Diego's free agent additions, Aaron Harang, is under the same agency (ACES) as Branyan, for what it's worth. About 9.6% of over 10,000 MLBTR readers expect Branyan to be the Padres' Opening Day first baseman.

Hawpe, 31, declined an offer of arbitration from the Rays, but he won't cost a draft pick. In 346 plate appearances for the Rockies and Rays last year, he posted a .245/.338/.419 line with 32 extra base hits. Like Branyan, he has better career numbers against right-handed pitching (.288/.386/.504 line).








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