Offseason Outlook: San Diego Padres

Injuries hurt the Padres in 2013, but that only tells part of the story.  The Padres have some work to do in order to keep up in the competitive NL West.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses)

Free Agents

There have been non-stop questions about Chase Headley's future in San Diego for the last year but it seems like the Padres will come up with an answer, one way or another, this offseason.  They could put the rumors to rest with a contract extension for their star or trade him at a time when the third base free agent market is thin.  The Yankees have long had a soft spot for the 29-year-old and even though a new deal for Headley would be tricky given their budget constraints, he'd be a very welcome addition in light of the Alex Rodriguez saga.  General Manager Josh Byrnes & Co. will surely be listening on offers for Headley, but both sides have stated their preference for a contract extension. 

So, done deal, right?  Not quite.  There appears to be a pretty serious schism in negotiations between San Diego and agent Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management.  Back in May, we heard that the Padres were looking to lock Headley up with something in the range of $75MM over five years.  Headley, meanwhile, likely sees Ryan Zimmerman's six-year, $100MM deal as a baseline for his own deal.  It's hard to say what kind of deal Headley could get out of the Padres.  On one hand, the Zimmerman deal raised the bar for what a top third baseman should command.  On the other hand, Headley is coming off of a down year and has really only had one season where he looked like an elite player.  Headley hit .243/.335/.389 with 10 homers and a 2.1 WAR, a far cry from his 2012 campaign where he slashed .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs and a 6.3 WAR on his way to capturing Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards.  Pads skipper Bud Black attributes much of Headley's struggles to the thumb injury he suffered in Spring Training, but the dip in hitting is still a concern.  Recently, Tim Dierkes opined that Headley will probably risk being traded elsewhere if he can't get something in the range of Andre Ethier's five-year, $85MM deal from San Diego. 

Looking out-of-house, the Padres' top priority will probably be to bolster their rotation.  Thanks to the progress of Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross and the July addition of Ian Kennedy, the top half of the starting five is taken care of.  After that, San Diego will be waiting on the returns of Joe Wieland and Cory Luebke after Tommy John surgery.  Eric Stults will probably stay in the starting five after posting a 3.93 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 33 starts last season.  The Padres are likely to non-tender Clayton Richard and they already purged Edinson Volquez from the roster, so there will be spots available.  There will be plenty of affordable veterans for the Padres to choose from as they look to improve the rotation while saving some coin for the rest of the roster.  Chris Capuano figures to be bought out of his $8MM mutual option with the Dodgers and will probably be willing to take a bit of a pay cut.  A modest offer could also net them someone of Roberto Hernandez or Jason Hammel's caliber.  

The bullpen also needs to be shored up as the Padres' middle relief was shaky for much of the year.  Anthony Bass, Brad Brach, Brad Boxberger, and Miles Mikolas all had varying degrees of success in 2013, but they'll have to take a step or two forward to show that they can be reliable.  Nick Vincent and Tim Stauffer were solid but San Diego will have to rebuild the bridge to Luke Gregerson and closer Huston Street.  Speaking of Gregerson, San Diego will have to address his future as he enters his final year of arbitration eligibility.  A club-friendly extension would be ideal, but the Padres will also find a lot of interested suitors if they shop him. 

Ronny Cedeno saw a ton of playing time in 2013 thanks to Everth Cabrera's PED suspension and gave the Padres decent defensive play.  He'll be a free agent, however, and they'll look for another shortstop/utility man if they don't retain him.  If the Padres can trade Headley, they can cover for him easily by moving Jedd Gyorko over to third, but that will create something of a void at second.  Logan Forsythe and Alexi Amarista can handle the position but they'd be better off with a full-timer who can replace some of Headley's offense.  

You can expect 90 percent of San Diego's trade buzz to center on Headley, but its possible that they work the phones to fill other holes in the lineup.  Recently, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggested that the Padres could move either Will Venable or Chris Denorfia and a pitching prospect for an upgrade at a corner outfield slot.  The Pads have gotten interest in both players in the past and with salaries of $4.25MM and $2.25MM, respectively, they could be attractive to other teams. 

Headley figures to get the most ink of anyone tied to the Padres this offseason, but they'll have other matters to tend to as well.  

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