The Padres have optioned third baseman Will Middlebrooks to Triple-A, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports on Twitter. Outfielder Abraham Almonte has been brought up to take his spot on the roster.
It’s a disappointing, if unsurprising, move for the 26-year-old Middlebrooks. The former top prospect was acquired over the offseason from the Red Sox as something of a turnaround candidate, but has put together a sub-par .212/.241/.361 batting line in 270 plate appearances on the year. Though a .237 BABIP explains some of that, particularly given that Middlebrooks is making as much hard contact as he always has, he’s always carried a low average on balls in play in the majors (.276 career).
Throw in below-average defensive ratings, and Middlebrooks has once again sported a WAR mark well into the negative figures. While San Diego surely held out at least some hope that Middlebrooks would provide a long-term option at the hot corner, he’ll need to do some work in the upper minors to earn another shot at big league playing time. With his first crack at arbitration on the horizon, he could be a non-tender candidate at this point (though he is rather unlikely to command a huge salary).