- Yankees righty Chad Green is moving his business to Frontline, per the report, joining a pitching-heavy client list led by Dallas Keuchel and Andrew Miller. Though he showed promise with intriguing strikeout and walk numbers in 2016, Green’s 2017 campaign came as an eye opener. In 69 frames over 40 appearances, he punched out 13.4 batters per nine while walking just 2.2 and carrying a sterling 1.83 ERA. Green sat at about 96 mph with his average heater and racked up a strong 15.0% swinging-strike rate.
- Meanwhile, intriguing young Padres righty Dinelson Lamet has hired Magnus Sports, an agency known for its long list of clients from Latin America. Among the outfit’s most recognizable players is a trio of notable Yankees (Aroldis Chapman, Gary Sanchez, and Starlin Castro). Lamet exhibited some walk and home run difficulties in his debut season, but also racked up 10.9 K/9 and produced a 4.57 ERA in 114 1/3 innings. If he can build upon that opening work, Lamet could become a key part of a hopeful new rotation core in San Diego.
- Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis is drawing interest, as has previously been suggested. He is among several names in contention for the same gig with the Padres, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, San Diego will also need to find a new infield coach after deciding to part ways with Ramon Vazquez. Davis is also sitting down with the Giants, Andrew Baggarly of the Bay Area News Group reports. Thus far, San Francisco hasn’t made clear its plans for the coaching staff for the coming season, but Baggarly discusses some of the considerations at play.
- Following up on Evan Drellich’s recent report that Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis will interview for the same position with the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune adds that the Padres have also interviewed four other candidates for the currently vacant post. Lin also notes that the Friars won’t bring infield coach Ramon Vazquez back to the coaching staff next year, though rather than making a new hire, his duties could potentially be absorbed by third base coach Glenn Hoffman. “We decided to go in a different direction to work with and lead our infielders,” manager Andy Green tells Lin.
- As the Red Sox continue looking into candidates for the team’s open managerial position, the team is allowing its coaches to look into their own alternatives. Well-regarded hitting coach Chili Davis is set to visit with the Padres, per Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter links). San Diego parted ways with hitting coach Alan Zinter, leaving the club looking at alternatives. Of course, it’s still also possible that a new Boston manager would prefer to keep Davis or certain other members of the staff, but the staff is now free to make its own decisions at this stage.
Dodgers phenom Corey Seager feels “normal-ish”, according to manager Dave Roberts (via an article by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com). Seager was injured while sliding into second base during the game in which the Dodgers clinched the NLDS series victory, and hasn’t done any baseball activity since then. Roberts adds that Seager won’t be traveling with the team to Chicago, though that could change under certain circumstances. Regardless, Seager can’t be added to the NLCS roster at this point unless someone on the current roster gets injured. In that case, the player Seager replaces would be ineligible for the Dodgers’ World Series roster, should the team advance that far. The 23-year old Seager batted .295/.375/.479 with 22 home runs during the regular season, and ranked first among all NL shortstops in fWAR. His situation will certainly be worth monitoring closely.
More from baseball’s NL West division…
- In a mailbag article for MLB.com, Rockies beat writer Thomas Harding points out that Colorado used only eight total starting pitchers this past season, which was incredibly lucky considering they averaged 12 starters per season from 2011-2016. Seven of those eight starters are set to return in 2018, and while they have youth on their side, Harding wonders how the organization will adapt if their luck with pitcher injuries regresses to the mean. The Rockies playoff hopes for the next few years will rest largely on the health and development of their young starters, including Jon Gray, Jeff Hoffman, Antonio Senzatela, German Marquez and Kyle Freeland.
- Speaking of mailbag articles for MLB.com, Padres beat writer AJ Cassavell suggests that San Diego’s bullpen-related offseason plans will largely hinge on whether any teams will meet GM A.J. Preller’s asking price on lefty Brad Hand. If Hand is traded, the Padres’ bullpen will likely need a significant overhaul, including some spending on established major leaguers. However, if he isn’t moved and the club is able to retain Craig Stammen, their relief corps may only need a few tweaks for 2018. To say that Hand essentially was the Padres’ bullpen in 2017 isn’t an exaggeration; his 3.89 Win Probability Added (WPA) ranked fourth-best among all relievers in baseball. All other Padres relievers combined for -1.76 WPA, and Stammen was the only other arm in their ’pen to exceed 0.20.
- Padres general manager A.J. Preller told Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other reporters on Monday that upgrading at shortstop and in the rotation will be offseason priorities. The Padres will also “look to tinker with the bullpen,” Preller said. Trading left-handed closer Brad Hand would qualify as much more than tinkering, but Preller didn’t rule out dealing him. “He was similar to a few years ago when we had (Craig) Kimbrel,” Preller said. “We talked to teams about Kimbrel at the trade deadline in ‘15. There were teams that reached out early in that offseason and said, ‘OK, we’re still interested.’ I would expect that to probably be the case, but we’ll see how that plays out.” Despite vast interest, the Padres decided against trading Hand at the deadline in July. The 27-year-old obviously comes with less team control now than he did over the summer, when an acquiring club could have viewed him as an integral piece for a playoff run, but he’s still signed through 2019. Hand made a relative pittance – $1.38MM – in his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2017.
Padres right-hander Jhoulys Chacin threw 180 1/3 innings of 3.89 ERA ball and contributed upward of two wins above replacement this season, making him one of the top bargain signings of 2017. Chacin inked a $1.75MM deal with the Padres last winter and should fare much better on his next contract, one that might come from another organization. But Chacin told AJ Cassavell of MLB.com and other reporters Saturday that he’d be willing to continue his career in San Diego (Twitter link). “It’s hard to tell,” Chacin said of his future. “But I would be really happy to come back here.” Re-signing the capable innings eater would make a lot of sense for the rebuilding, starter-needy Padres, as MLBTR’s Jason Martinez wrote Friday.
- Padres owner Ron Fowler informed Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that there are “a couple people we’re fairly close to getting deals done with,” which could mean Chacin or any of their other impending free agents. Regardless, both Fowler and managing partner Ron Seidler suggested to Lin that they’re happy with how this year has gone for the club. Seidler has seen enough progress to believe the Padres could soon be a factor in the NL West, a division the big-spending Dodgers have ruled over the past half-decade. Looking ahead two years, Seidler said: “At minimum, if we’re not in the chase for (the playoffs), I’d be disappointed. (If not), it wouldn’t mean I’d be angry or upset or anything. I think, given where we are right now, in 2019 we should have every chance not to just be a playoff team but to win the division.” Check out Lin’s full piece for more quotes from Seidler and Fowler on the direction of the franchise.
- Infielder Yangervis Solarte acknowledges that the Padres could trade him, but says he wants to stay in San Diego, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “If they want to trade me, what am I going to do? If I’m playing all these positions, I know there’s going to be teams that have interest in that versatility,” he says. “I want to stay here, I want to be here, but if they decide to trade me, I would just be thankful for the opportunity they’ve given me.” The 30-year-old Solarte has batted .255/.315/.419 while playing all four infield positions this season. He’s under contract for $4MM for 2018, and he has $750K buyouts on relatively cheap team options for both 2019 and 2020. His versatility, and the flexibility his team will have with his contract, could make him an attractive trade target this winter.
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Despite another losing season, the rebuilding Padres have been better than most would’ve expected in 2017. At worst, they’ll lose 92 games — they sit at 70-89 heading into a weekend series against the last-place Giants — and they’re only four games under .500 since May 20th. The tone was set last offseason when the team signed four veteran pitchers — Trevor Cahill, Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard and Craig Stammen — who went on to produce well beyond the $6.15MM it cost the team to sign each to a one-year contract.
Chacin and Richard have been positive clubhouse influences on a young team and combined for 63 starts. (Chacin is scheduled to make his 32nd start of the season on Saturday and will likely push the duo over 375 innings on the season) Cahill was on the disabled list twice, but he was very effective in his 11 starts as a Padre and ended up being part of a six-player pre-deadline trade with the Royals that netted San Diego a high-upside pitching prospect and one of the best hitters in the Arizona Rookie League. Stammen, who missed most of 2015 and all of 2016 due to injuries, came back strong with a 3.06 ERA in 59 appearances.
This offseason, expect the Padres to try this same strategy of adding inexpensive pitchers who can eat innings and possibly be flipped prior to the trade deadline. The club could have some money to spend after clearing most of their payroll during the rebuild and they also have plenty of trade chips, both in the farm system and with an abundance of second/third base and outfield candidates.
Richard has already been re-signed to an extension that runs through the 2019 season. Dinelson Lamet and Luis Perdomo will come to camp with an edge over a long list of rotation candidates that will include Travis Wood, Matt Strahm, and several others who missed the 2017 season due to injury, including Robbie Erlin, Christian Friedrich and Colin Rea. Adding a few veterans to the mix should be a priority, with at least one that can be penciled into the front of the rotation.
Re-signing Chacin (pictured) would make a lot of sense, considering that he has been one of the better pitchers at home in 2017 (9-3, 1.79 ERA, 5.4 H/9). The 29-year-old might have priced himself out of San Diego, however, and could command a deal that is well above what the Padres are willing to offer at this point. Cahill, considering how well he pitched with the Padres when healthy, would presumably welcome a return to his hometown Padres.
While Petco Park is no longer considered an extreme pitcher-friendly ballpark, pitchers who are looking for an opportunity to rebuild their value are still likely to place San Diego high on their list of potential destinations. Several hurlers have “figured things out” under Darren Balsley’s tutelage, which is why he’s been the team’s pitching coach for 15 seasons and counting. Clay Buchholz, Derek Holland, Ubaldo Jimenez and former Padres ace Tyson Ross could all be on the team’s radar as inexpensive bounce-back candidates.
Filling the shortstop void has been a recurring offseason priority for this team since they traded away Khalil Greene following the 2008 season. Everth Cabrera was an NL All-Star in 2013, but he was never able to lock down the job because of inconsistency, injuries and off-the-field troubles. Thus, the team has continued to kick the can down the road in hopes that someone would eventually come along and solidify the position, which simply hasn’t happened. Short-term answers like Aybar, Ramirez and Barmes have not produced, and no prospects have emerged as the clear shortstop of the future…until now, which makes this offseason slightly different.
Whoever is written into the lineup card as the starting shortstop on Opening Day 2018 will be keeping the spot warm for highly-regarded 18-year-old prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., who some evaluators believe could reach the big leagues by 2019. Alcides Escobar, Danny Espinosa and J.J. Hardy, all coming off of bad offensive seasons, will likely be in the mix for one-year deals. The trade market for shortstops doesn’t appear to offer many options, but the Rays’ Adeiny Hechavarria, under contract through 2018, would be a possibility while the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar would fill the team’s need for at least the next two seasons—he does not appear to have accrued enough MLB service time in 2017 to reach four years—while Tatis continues to develop in the upper minors. (Though Profar, himself not far removed from being the game’s top prospect, could be seen as a long-term asset at another position.)
Corrections: Hechavarria is under contract through 2018. The article had initially stated that was under contract through 2019. Profar appears to have fallen short of 4.000 years of MLB service time, which keeps him under club control through 2020 instead of 2019.
3. Acquire a late-inning reliever who can step in as the closer if Brad Hand is traded.
With Stammen headed for free agency and Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter dealt to Kansas City at midseason, the Padres will likely be shopping around for late-inning bullpen help. They also have to plan around a potential trade of Hand, who received a lot of interest at the deadline.
General manager A.J. Preller held on to Hand since, presumably, teams were unwilling to meet his high asking price, and Preller isn’t likely to lower that price this offseason. If anything, Hand’s value increased after he posted a 2.22 ERA with 18 saves, six walks and 38 strikeouts in 28.1 IP after taking over as the closer in late July. With only two years of club control remaining, the 27-year-old lefty has more value with a playoff contender in 2018. In other words, there is still a high probability that Hand is traded this winter and the Padres will have a new closer heading into the season.
Kirby Yates and Phil Maton would be the top internal candidates to close if Hand is dealt. If San Diego was to add a third option with closing experience from the free agent market, Matt Belisle, Tyler Clippard, Bud Norris and Huston Street would fit the bill. Brandon Morrow, who pitched for the Padres in 2015 and 2016, would be an intriguing option to return. An impressive, injury-free season with the Dodgers, however, means that he’ll likely have plenty of interest around the league.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
- Third baseman Christian Villanueva has hit four homers in 10 games since the Padres selected his contract Sept. 18, putting him in position to compete for a 25-man spot next spring, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com writes. The offseason minor league signing and former top 100 prospect with the Cubs will have an opportunity to win a starting job at second or third base in the spring, relays Cassavell, who notes that he could at least be a useful right-handed hitter off the bench. While Villaneuva, who was once part of trade involving Kyle Hendricks and Ryan Dempster, has slashed .333/.333/.778, his success has come over a minuscule amount of PAs (27). Manager Andy Green needs to see more, saying that “I don’t think you prove anything in September in such a short sample.”