The Padres reached the NLCS for the first time since 1998, but their season ended yesterday when they were eliminated by the Phillies in five games. San Diego is now turning its attention to the offseason, where they will face a decent amount of possible roster rotation around a star-studded core.
San Diego will see Mike Clevinger, Sean Maneemid-season commercial pickups Josh Bell and Brandon Dry and relievers Pierre Johnson and Craig Stammen all hit free agency. A handful of other players have contract options that could bring them to the open market. Each of the Nick Martinez, Robert Suarez and Jurickson Profar has the option of opting out of his contracts this winter. Wil Myersmeanwhile, has a $20 million team option that will almost certainly be redeemed for $1 million.
Martinez and Suarez were two of San Diego’s most leveraged relievers on the stretch, raising the possibility that a good chunk of the Padres’ bullpen will hit the open market. As part of a broader review of the issues facing the roster (an article worth reading in its entirety), Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests that Martinez is likely to test the free market. The right-hander signed a four-year, $25.5 million bond last winter after a three-season run in Japan, with the contract offering him a chance to opt out after each season. He owes $19.5 million over the next three years, but would be entitled to a $1.5 million buyout if he steps down, meaning he has to decide whether he can exceed a $18 million three-year open market warranty.
MLBTR’s Steve Adams reviewed the situation in detail last month, noting that Martinez’s strong performance out of the bullpen made him an interesting call. Acee says Martinez may prioritize finding a rotation opportunity after working in a swing role this year. The 32-year-old started 10 of his first 12 outings, but moved to the bullpen full-time in mid-June. At the time of his transfer to the bullpen, he had an ERA of 4.05 with an average strikeout rate of 21.9% and a slightly high walk percentage of 10.4%. After the switch to relief, Martinez worked 46 ball frames 2.74 ERA. He reduced his walk rate to 7.4%, but his strikeout rate dropped by a full percentage point. Despite lacking power, swinging and misfiring stuff, Martinez picked up eight saves and served as a generally versatile bullpen piece for manager Bob Melvin.
Martinez’s apparent desire for a rotation spot shouldn’t inherently rule him out in San Diego. While he was ousted from the mix mid-season, the Brothers continued to deal mackenzie gore in the John Soto Trade. Coupled with the aforementioned free agencies from Clevinger and Manaea, there should be quite a few opportunities behind Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. Acee says Padres don’t want to give up ability to use Adrian Morejon as a starter, however. The southpaw, once one of the game’s top pitching prospects, has worked out of the bullpen 26 times this year after missing most of last season due to Tommy John surgery. Morejón is not guaranteed a rotational spot for next year’s season opener, but it looks like the Brothers are ready to extend it after a healthy offseason.
Suarez was a simpler power-lifter arm. Also an NPB sign last offseason, he played 45 regular season games despite missing two months with an inflamed right knee. He posted a 2.27 ERA in 47 2/3 innings, knocking out 31.9% of opponents. Suarez’s control was erratic, but he wielded a superior 90s fastball and was Melvin’s most reliable bullpen arm late in the season. It ended on a sour note, with Suarez giving up the green light to Bryce Harper this ended San Diego’s year, but he gave up a number of jams earlier in the playoffs. With that kind of speed and swing-and-miss, he’s a lock to get around the final $5 million of his deal in favor of a $1 million buyout and test free agency.
Things are a little more settled on the positional player side, but President of Baseball Operations AJ Preller and his team will have to make some key decisions there as well. The first is whether to keep any of the impending free agents. Acee writes that the team is ready to bring back Drury, who hit eight home runs in 46 games as Padre. He had just .290 on-base percentage during that span, but he had posted a .274/.335/.520 performance with 20 homers for the Reds in the opening months of the season. Drury can cover any non-shortstop position on the infield and could serve as a corner outfield option, with the team potentially losing Profar and Myers.
For his part, Myers has indicated that he is open to a return to San Diego (link via MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell). It certainly won’t be on the $20 million option, but Myers will find a big contract with a lower base salary this offseason. He has generally provided the Brothers with slightly above average offense, and that was the case again in 2022. Myers hit .261/.315/.398 in 286 plate appearances. He didn’t offer much against the right-handed pitcher, but he did hit six homers in 90 plate appearances against left-handers and carries a career line of .255/.351/.453 while maintaining the home advantage. peloton.
With Bell’s possible departure, the Brothers don’t have an obvious first base option internally, perhaps opening the door for Myers to return at a lower rate. They could definitely tap into the class of free agents there, although Acee notes there is some support in the organization to play Jake Cronenworth more frequently at first. Cronenworth is an above-average defensive second baseman, which makes him an odd fit, but San Diego has one of the most talented infielders in the sport. Ha Seong Kim has proven to be an everyday substitute player Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, while Manny Machado is a hot corner MVP contender.
Tatis hasn’t played in 2022 due to injuries and a performance-enhancing drug suspension, but will be back with the club at the end of April next year. Tatis still has 20 games left on his 80-game suspension — he’s missed 48 regular-season games and 12 playoff games this year — but will be back in the everyday roster in a few weeks next year. Penciling him back to shortstop might require kicking Kim to the other side of the second base bag. This would form one of the best defensive fields in the sport, of particular value with the coming limitations on shifting. San Diego also explored the possibility of playing Tatis in center field while reducing At Trent Grisham’s playing time on the heels of a .184/.284/.341 line. It could be considered again, but Tatis has already expressed his preference to stay at shortstop.
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