Padres add depth with RHP Honeywell, OF Engel

January 7th, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- Pitching and outfield depth were the Padres' top two priorities at this juncture of the offseason, and they took a step toward bolstering both areas on Friday, signing right-hander and outfielder to contracts for the 2023 season.

Honeywell's contract is a Major League deal, but he retains Minor League options. The split deal will pay the 27-year-old Honeywell $725,000 in the Majors and $200,000 if he were in the Minors. Engel, meanwhile, is on a big league contract and with five years of accrued service time, he can decline any options.

Both Honeywell and Engel are expected to compete for roster spots, with Engel likely slotted for a backup outfield role and Honeywell vying for a place at the back of the rotation or as a swing-man type in the bullpen.

The 31-year-old Engel spent the first six seasons of his MLB career with the White Sox, who picked him in the 19th round of the 2013 Draft. A speedster who has proven to be a strong defensive center fielder, Engel has been somewhat inconsistent at the plate. But he has also shown glimpses of production, particularly from 2020-21, when he slashed .270/.335/.488 with an .823 OPS; however, he only played in 75 games over that span due to injury.

Engel is the favorite to be the club's fourth outfielder, and as a right-handed hitter, he could potentially platoon with incumbent center fielder Trent Grisham, a left-handed hitter who himself has been strong defensively but inconsistent offensively. José Azocar could work his way into that mix as well.

In 119 games for the White Sox last season, Engel slashed .224/.269/.310, while splitting time between center and right field. If Fernando Tatis Jr. is indeed destined for a corner outfield spot, Engel could temporarily fill his lineup spot while the Padres await Tatis' return from suspension in late April.

Honeywell, meanwhile, was selected by Tampa Bay in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft, then spent his first eight years as a pro in the Rays' organization before joining Oakland in 2022. He owns a career 3.21 ERA across parts of six seasons in the Minors and made three big league appearances with the Rays in ‘21.

Once ranked among the sport's top pitching prospects, Honeywell endured several years’ worth of injury setbacks in the Rays' organization. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017, then had three further surgeries on his throwing arm before he returned to the mound and ultimately made his big league debut in '21.

Honeywell was dealt to Oakland after the 2021 season but didn't pitch in the big leagues in '22. He slumped to a 7.08 ERA in 13 appearances in the A's system last year. Still, the Padres see upside in Honeywell and the mid-90s fastball that he pairs with a swing-and-miss changeup.

San Diego's rotation was already strong at the top entering the offseason, with Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell. Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo are expected to help fill out that group of starters. But the Padres’ depth beyond those five had been lacking. Add Honeywell to the group of arms looking to help fill that void.