The Padres announced this evening that they have designated infielder Carlos Asuaje for assignment. His roster spot will go to righty Garrett Richards, whose previously reported two-year deal is now official.
Asuaje, 27, originally came to the organization as part of the multi-player package received in exchange for closer Craig Kimbrel. The left-handed hitter has appeared in each of the past three seasons with the Padres but will now make way for a more-hyped crop of middle-infield talent.
Though he showed promise at the plate in 2017, Asuaje struggled quite a bit last year. He finished with a .196/.286/.280 slash through 218 plate appearances, though he did have a much better showing during his time at Triple-A (.314/.386/.463).
Teams considering Asuaje may find some comfort in the underlying numbers. Asuaje boosted his walk rate to 11.0%, which could bode well for the future. And he carried only a .243 batting average on balls in play in the bigs. That was an unlucky figure, Statcast suggests, crediting him with a .288 xwOBA that dwarfs his .255 wOBA.
Of course, even Asuaje’s hypothetically deserved offensive output wasn’t all that exciting. If he’s to carve out a role, it’ll likely be as a utility player. Asuaje has hit much better against right-handed pitching, which limits him but also suggests he could be useful in a platoon role. Defensive metrics have not loved him in a limited sample, though he’s generally considered a solid defender.
There’s some value in the fact that Asuaje is still optionable for another season. On the other hand, it doesn’t help his cause that he has never been considered capable of playing shortstop, though he does have plenty of lower-level experience at third base and has also spent some time in left field. All told, it’s possible he’ll be claimed, but by no means a given.
As for Richards, he’s still a long ways away from contributing on the field in San Diego, as his first priority will be to rehabilitate from Tommy John surgery. He’ll reportedly receive a hefty $15.5MM guarantee in hopes that he’ll be able to get back to full strength and provide the Friars with a high-quality rotation piece in 2020.