The Padres have agreed to a deal with outfielder Juan Lagares, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). It’s a minor-league pact that’ll pay out at $1.4MM if Lagares can crack the big league roster. There are also $1.1MM in available incentives and a March 19th opt-out date, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.
At his best, Lagares gave the Mets high-end defensive work and approximately league-average hitting — quite a nice combination for an up-the-middle performer. But that was way back in 2014, when Lagares logged a Gold Glove and set the table for a spring 2015 extension.
Things just haven’t gone as well since. Lagares has dealt with some health problems and back-slid at the plate. UZR and DRS both soured on his glovework in 2019, though Statcast provided plenty of evidence that Lagares still has plenty of skill with the glove on his hand.
It seems the Friars will have a rather wide-open camp battle. Lagares and Wil Myers are each right-handed-hitting candidates to see time in center. Word is that lefty swinging Franchy Cordero could shift to the prime defensive spot; the recently acquired Trent Grisham is also an option there. Tommy Pham is sure to see a lot of action in the corner, with all of the above-listed players and a few others (in particular, Josh Naylor and Abraham Almonte) also potentially competing.