- “The rumors of [Hunter Greene] and his family attempting to maneuver his way to the No. 3 pick with the Padres are a poorly kept secret,” Baseball America’s John Manuel writes as part of a mock draft. Greene, a high school pitcher/shortstop, reportedly wants to be a Padre for geographical (Greene is from Los Angeles) and baseball-related reasons, as the Padres’ throwing program more closely matches Greene’s own throwing program. Interestingly, Greene is believed to be shutting down as a pitcher, perhaps in part to lower his draft stock so that Minnesota and Cincinnati pass on him with the first two picks and Greene winds up in San Diego. Then again, the Reds “aren’t afraid to call Greene’s bluff,” Manuel writes.
- The White Sox, Padres, Cardinals, Reds and Astros are among the favorites to sign Robert, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes, echoing previous reports. Sanchez also lists the Athletics as a possibility, noting that the A’s have spent heavily on international talent (including Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros) since July and have “strong interest” in Robert. Sanchez further notes that the A’s took the rest of MLB by surprise by signing another Cuban outfield phenom, Yoenis Cespedes, in 2012. Sanchez also tweets that A’s GM David Forst and other team officials are in the Dominican to scout Robert.
- The Padres have also confirmed their interest, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We have seen him multiple times and will continue to scout him aggressively until he signs,” says Padres international scouting director Chris Kemp. Including penalties, the Padres since July 2 have already spent an amazing total of nearly $80MM on a large collection of international amateur talent headlined by Cuban lefty Adrian Morejon. Lin notes that sources tell him the Padres might not have much more to spend on amateur talent after such an incredible expenditure (although it should also be noted that the team’s international spending has been balanced by a remarkably cheap big-league payroll). The Padres might see Robert as a special opportunity to add top talent, however, particularly given that their ability to spend will be restricted once the current spending period ends.
- The Padres are looking for more production at shortstop but are hoping for one of Erick Aybar, Allen Cordoba or Luis Sardinas to step up for the time being, writes AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. There’s some optimism in the organization that prospect Luis Urias could emerge as a viable option, though he could be a ways off from the Majors. Urias opened the year at Double-A but is just 19 years of age. He did post a very strong .333/.404/.446 batting line as one of the youngest players in the Class-A Advanced California League last season, though, and even got a brief cup of coffee in Triple-A in 2016 (three games). In the meantime, manager Andy Green praised Aybar’s eye at the plate (he’s walked six times) and voiced confidence that hits will begin to fall in for the veteran. Aybar is hitting just .147/.293/.206, while Sardinas comes with less of a big league track record and Cordoba is swimming with sharks after jumping directly from Rookie Ball to the Majors as a Rule 5 pick.
- The Padres have also done some roster tweaking, activating catcher Hector Sanchez from the 7-day concussion DL and also calling back righty Kevin Quackenbush. The club also announced that Jabari Blash and Jake Esch were optioned to make way on the active roster. While Blash has been outrighted off the 40-man in the past, and was only recently re-added when he was recalled, he’ll hold onto his spot for the time being while reporting to Triple-A.
- The Padres have placed right-hander Trevor Cahill on the disabled list, retroactive to April 6, with a lower back strain and recalled Zach Lee from Triple-A El Paso. Either Lee or Jarred Cosart could start in place of Cahill against the Rockies on Monday, as Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource points out (Twitter link). In his first start of the year, a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday, Cahill allowed two earned runs on five hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, also notching seven strikeouts.
This year’s Padres are turning “tanking” into an art form, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The Padres feature three players selected in the Rule 5 Draft, plus an incredibly inexperienced outfield and three starting pitchers who have recently been released. GM A.J. Preller’s strategy this season, Sherman writes, amounts to a “more extreme version of, say, what the Astros and Cubs did” — essentially, being indifferent to winning in the short term in order to get choice draft picks. Notably, Sherman detects a personal tone to criticism of the Padres’ strategy from employees of other organizations, in part because of Preller’s failure to disclose some relevant medical information in past trades, including the deal last season that sent Drew Pomeranz to Boston.
- The White Sox, Astros, Padres, Reds and Cardinals are the teams with the most interest in highly touted outfield prospect Luis Robert, reports Rosenthal. If he’s cleared to sign by June 15, the 19-year-old will go down as the last Cuban amateur to sign for big money – should the new collective bargaining agreement rules remain in place for a while, that is. Ben Badler of Baseball America has reported on multiple occasions that the White Sox are the favorites to land Robert. Unlike the ChiSox, all of the Astros, Padres, Cardinals and Reds have already exceeded their 2016-17 international bonus pools.
Here are the latest minor moves of note from around the game:
- The Padres announced that lefty Keith Hessler and righty Cesar Vargas have both been outrighted after clearing waivers. Both were designated for assignment recently; the former will head to the highest level of the minors, while the latter will go to Double-A. Hessler, 28, pitched to a 3.38 ERA last year but managed just nine strikeouts against 11 walks over his 18 2/3 frames. As for the 25-year-old Vargas, he’ll need to climb back to the bigs before he’ll get a shot to pick up where he left off last year, when he carried a 3.34 ERA over his first six starts — only to suffer a season-ending injury during his seventh.
- Righty Kirby Yates has been outrighted by the Angels, per a team announcement. The 30-year-old hasn’t managed to hold down big league job in his prior opportunities, and will need to wait for another shot at Triple-A. He threw 41 1/3 frames last year, posting a 5.23 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9. Yates has typically performed well in the upper minors, though, and ought to provide the Halos with some depth.
- About half the Padres’ Opening Day payroll of around $67MM will be owed to players who aren’t with the team anymore, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Current members of the Padres’ active roster and DL make about $33MM, with 21 players making less than $1M. That’s partially a function of the youth of the roster, which we chronicled here earlier this weekend — the Padres are having three Rule 5 picks start the season with them, along with a host of other inexperienced players. Their highest-paid players are Wil Myers and Jered Weaver, both of whom are making just $3MM. The Padres are also paying a total of $34MM to James Shields, Melvin Upton Jr. and Hector Olivera. Shields is currently with the White Sox, while both Upton and Olivera are free agents. Lin notes, though, that the Padres have invested a remarkable total of about $80MM (plus taxes for exceeding their bonus pool) on international prospects since July.
That showing continued a run of poor recent hitting from last season, when he batted just .189/.309/.318 in 256 big-league plate appearances. The Padres outrighted Wallace last November, then re-signed him to a minor-league deal a month later.
Wallace, now 30, was once a first-round draft pick of the Cardinals, as well as one of the keys to the 2009 trade that brought Matt Holliday to St. Louis. Since then, though, Wallace has struggled to get established in the big leagues as he hasn’t balanced his below-average defensive performances at the corner infield spots with the level of offensive production once expected from him. In parts of five career seasons spent with Houston and San Diego, he’s batted a modest .238/.316/.389 with 40 home runs and a cumulative fWAR of -1.4.