As the Padres begin to make some of their final roster cuts ahead of Opening Day, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reports that San Diego has returned Rule 5 draft pick Jose Lopez to the Rays, optioned utilityman Brandon Dixon, and reassigned right-hander Julio Teheran and utilityman Tim Lopes to minor league camp.
Lopez became the 12th player picked in this year’s Rule 5 draft when the Padres selected him with the 21st pick. A left-handed pitcher Lopez was dominant at Double-A with the Rays last year, striking out a whopping 38.7% of batters faced at the level en route to a 2.60 ERA in 55 1/3 innings. That dominance was enough for the Padres to take a chance on the 24 year-old Lopez, but after a difficult spring where he walked five batters in six innings of work, Lopez is being returned to the Rays, who will pay San Diego back half of the $100k fee the Padres paid to select Lopez in order to reclaim him.
Teheran, meanwhile, was a potential option to act as the sixth starter in San Diego while Joe Musgrove is on the shelf with a fractured toe. An 11-year MLB veteran, the 32 year old Teheran has a career 3.80 ERA in 1396 1/3 innings of work that came primarily as a member of the Braves rotation from 2013 to 2019. Over that period of time, Teheran showed himself to be a reliable, innings-eating back-end starter with an ERA+ of 111. Teheran struggled mightily in the shortened 2020 season with the Angels, however, and has only pitched five big league innings since then. Cassavell notes that due to the assignment clause in Teheran’s contract, he can depart the Padres organization if he receives a big league offer elsewhere. For now, though, Teheran seems poised to remain with San Diego, serving as depth in Triple-A.
Both Dixon and Lopes were in the mix to be part of the Padres bench. Dixon, 31, has a career 74 wRC+ in 201 games at the big league level but provides versatility, with experience at first, second, and third base and all three outfield spots during his major league career. However, with versatile players such as Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim already on the roster, the Padres will instead opt to send Dixon to Triple-A as depth. Lopes, meanwhile, has primarily been a corner outfielder in the big leagues but also has experience in center field, at second base, third base, and shortstop. The 29 year-old Lopes has just 94 games of big league experience to this point in his career, and hit well this spring with an .890 OPS in 55 plate appearances. Despite that solid showing, Lopes will join Dixon as depth in Triple-A.
After this round of cuts, it would appear that outfielder David Dahl and infielder Rougned Odor are in line to make the Opening Day roster in San Diego, while the sixth starter spot could go to left-hander Jay Groome or right-hander Brent Honeywell Jr. Dahl had some early success with the Rockies in his career, but has battled injuries throughout his career and has struggled to just a .538 OPS in 87 games since the start of the 2021 season. Odor, meanwhile, spent seven seasons as the regular second baseman for the Rangers, posting an 86 wRC+ during that time, before spending 2021 with the Yankees and 2022 with the Royals. Despite the meager offense numbers for both players in recent years, each can provide the Padres with a left-handed swing off the bench while providing depth in the outfield and infield, respectively.
As for the sixth starter battle, Groome, whom the Padres acquired in the Eric Hosmer deal with the Red Sox last summer, has dazzled in 14 innings of work this spring with a 1.29 ERA, though he has struggled with his control, walking 10 batters while striking out 13. Honeywell, meanwhile, signed a major league deal with the Padres this offseason after the former top prospect was non-tendered by the Rays after years of injury woes. Honeywell got hit hard this spring, posting a 6.88 ERA in 17 innings, but with 22 strikeouts and just six walks in those innings, there’s reason to believe the quality arm he seemed destined to become as a prospect could still surface.