Mixing and matching in the designated hitter spot is a fairly common approach for American League clubs. That may be all the more common if, as expected, National League teams are suddenly given a DH slot to work with for 2020. The Padres have some clear candidates for steady work but could certainly end up operating with a rotation as the team’s needs evolve.
There are two fairly obvious options for regular hitter-only usage in San Diego. First and foremost is Wil Myers, who has moved all over the diamond in recent years but never really found a home. He’s got to fit somewhere, as he’s earning a $20MM annual salary from 2020 through 2022. Myers has already produced thirty dingers in a big-league season, though he slumped last year.
The other possibility is the younger and less-established Josh Naylor, a converted first baseman who’s still learning the outfield. He has options aplenty, so it’s easy enough to keep him off of the active roster, but the Friars are surely interested to see if he’s a keeper. Naylor held his own but didn’t excel in his first attempt at the majors in 2019. But the 22-year-old has shown all he really needs to against upper-minors pitching, including exceptional plate discipline. The question remains whether he can deliver steady pop in the bigs.
So, how about some kind of platoon? Well, Naylor really hasn’t been vulnerable to lefties in the minors. And Myers hasn’t shown significant splits historically. But that did change last year, when he marauded lefties (130 wRC+) while failing to show up against same-handed hurlers (87 wRC+).
Odds are, the Pads will want both of these guys to cycle through spots on the field as well, both to keep everyone fresh and to enhance the organization’s long-term flexibility with those players. Plus, there’s an opportunity here to expand the team’s options behind the dish — Francisco Mejia could get some plate appearances as the DH — and elsewhere. It’d be nice to find added rest for the high-priced Manny Machado, for instance, and keeping Franchy Cordero healthy is a priority after several injury-plagued campaigns. It would be easy enough to slot Tommy Pham, Eric Hosmer, and even Brian Dozier into the DH spot from time to time.