The Padres announced a broad-reaching slate of roster moves Tuesday, most notably designating infielder/outfielder Rougned Odor for assignment and optioning catcher Austin Nola to Triple-A El Paso. San Diego also optioned utilityman Brandon Dixon to El Paso.
That trio of moves creates space for the team to reinstate catcher Luis Campusano from the 60-day injured list, select the contract of outfielder Taylor Kohlwey and recall infielder Alfonso Rivas from Triple-A. The Padres also announced that righty Reiss Knehr has been transferred from the 15-day IL to the 60-day IL. He’s been on the shelf with elbow discomfort since late June and will now be sidelined until at least late August.
It’s a notable shakeup for a struggling Padres club that has gotten negligible production from the bench and from its catching position this season. Odor, who’ll be traded or released within a week’s time (he can reject an outright assignment), has batted just .210/.306/.370 in 157 trips to the plate this season. Nola (.146/.260/.192 in 154 plate appearances) and Dixon (.204/.244/.329 in 86 plate appearances) have been even less productive. They’ll both remain in the organization in Triple-A, at least for the time being.
The Padres were Odor’s fourth team in as many years. He hasn’t had an above-average season at the plate since 2016 but has continually gotten looks around the league thanks to his glove and considerable left-handed pop. He’s been with the Rangers, Yankees and Orioles in the past three seasons, respectively, and cracked the Padres’ Opening Day roster in 2023 despite a combined .199/.269/.374 showing from 2020-22. In doing so, he continued the long line of former Rangers who’ve made cameos with the Padres under president of baseball operations AJ Preller — a longtime assistant GM in Texas (e.g. Ian Kinsler, Keone Kela, Mitch Moreland, Nelson Cruz, Nomar Mazara, Jurickson Profar, Yu Darvish, Nick Martinez, Carl Edwards Jr.).
Nola, 33, has been San Diego’s primary catcher in recent seasons after coming over from the Mariners in what’s become a lopsided deal for Seattle. San Diego acquired Nola, Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla in exchange for infielder Ty France, reliever Andres Munoz, outfielder Taylor Trammell and catcher Luis Torrens. France has since settled in as the Mariners’ primary first baseman and made the All-Star team in 2022. Munoz has stepped up as Seattle’s closer.
While Nola had been enjoying a breakout with the Mariners in 2019-20 and was solid in his first season-plus with San Diego, his bat has since cratered. Dating back to Opening Day 2022, he’s a .222/.304/.291 hitter (75 wRC+) in exactly 162 games and 551 plate appearances. His once-strong framing ratings have also deteriorated, and Nola has thwarted just 16.8% of stolen base attempts over the past two seasons.
With Nola now in El Paso, the Padres will rely on Campusano and Gary Sanchez behind the plate. Sanchez started hot after signing in San Diego, clubbing five dingers in his first 50 plate appearances. However, he’s since gone ice cold at the dish, batting just .150/.253/.250 in his past 91 turns at the plate.
That could open the door for Campusano to at last get a legitimate look behind the plate. The longtime top prospect has appeared in each MLB season since 2020 but has only 114 career plate appearances to his name. He’s mustered only a .198/.237/.302 output in that time, but Campusano is a career .297/.366/.513 hitter in 702 Triple-A plate appearances and has outstanding batted-ball metrics in his limited MLB work. Despite the pedestrian bottom-line results, Campusano has an average exit velocity of 90.6 mph and a massive 48.7% hard-hit rate, per Statcast. Opponents have gone 16-for-16 against him in stolen bases at the MLB level, but Campusano has a 25% caught-stealing rate in the minors.
Also joining the Padres’ roster will be Kohlwey, who’ll be in line for his MLB debut just two days prior to his 29th birthday. A 21st-round pick out of the University of Wisconsin La Crosse back in 2016, Kohlwey has experience at all three outfield spots and is batting .261/.377/.437 with nine homers, 16 doubles, a pair of triples, 10 steals and nearly as many walks (50) as strikeouts (51) in 328 trips to the batter’s box.
Rivas, 26, signed with the Padres over the winter after spending the past two seasons with the Cubs. He’s gone 2-for-7 with a double in his limited sample with the Friars so far this year and is a career .248/.332/.325 hitter in 344 MLB plate appearances. Rivas boasts a colossal .332/.462/.582 slash in Triple-A this season and carries a lifetime .313/.424/.492 line in 150 games at that level.