Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune will continue his weekly reader chats and a few other ongoing projects for the paper, but otherwise, Center is retiring after a 47-year career. All the best wishes to a veteran baseball scribe whose name has regularly appeared on MLB Trade Rumors over the years. Here are a few Padres-related hot stove notes and more from Center's latest online chat with fans…
- Andrew Cashner and the Padres are just $125K apart on the price of Cashner's 2014 contract (the righty asked for $2.4MM, the team offered $2.275MM) and as of today, the two sides are set to go to an arbitration hearing. Center figurs the reason Cashner and the team couldn't come to an agreement over such a relatively small gap is because the two sides are working on a long-term contract. Cashner, 27, has two more years of arbitration eligibility left after this offseason and is scheduled for free agency following the 2016 season. Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told MLBTR's Steve Adams during the GM Meetings last November that a Cashner extension was "certainly a possibility" for the team this offseason.
- The Padres are set for starting pitching and aren't likely to make a play for Bronson Arroyo, even though Center "imagine[s] his price is dropping rapidly."
- The Padres signed Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $15.5MM deal this offseason, the type of large expenditure on a reliever who isn't expected to close (if Huston Street remains healthy) that you wouldn't expect from a smaller-market team like San Diego. Center likes the move, however, feeling it was the type of move a contender makes. Center feels the bullpen "could push the Padres over the top" in 2014.
- The crowded Padres bullpen, however, will make it harder for left-hander Patrick Schuster to make the team. Schuster was the first pick of this year's Rule 5 draft, selected by the Astros off the Diamondbacks' roster, and Houston then dealt Schuster to the Padres to complete the Anthony Bass trade. As per the Rule 5 regulations, Schuster must remain on the Padres' Major League roster all season, or else San Diego must offer him back to Arizona for $25K (or work out a trade with the D'Backs).