Can all three Rule 5 Draft guys stay with the Major League team for the entire season?
-- Brian M., San Diego
The Padres wouldn't have kept Luis Torrens, Miguel Diaz and Allen Cordoba around this long if they didn't think they could last through September. It's unprecedented for a team to hang onto three Rule 5 Draft selections through an entire season. But San Diego is on the verge of doing so.
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In December, Cordoba was expected to be the riskiest of the three selections. But he's thrived since being handed a Major League starting role (just one year removed from playing Rookie ball). Cordoba is not merely having a good season "for a Rule 5 player." He's having a good season. Period.
Diaz, meanwhile, has carved himself a niche in the bullpen as a reliever capable of eating multiple innings if necessary. The 20-year-old Torrens, batting just .132, is progressing the slowest of the three. But the Padres haven't considered designating him. They feel Torrens' future is simply too bright. Plus, despite the offensive struggles, they're impressed with his development behind the plate.
How does Franchy Cordero factor into the Padres' long-term plans?
-- Arvind, San Diego
Cordero certainly doesn't factor into the Padres' plans as a long-term center fielder. That's Manuel Margot's job for the better part of the next decade. But Cordero has experience at all three outfield spots. With his excellent range and above-average arm, he has the makings of a very good corner outfielder.
In the immediate future, it's probably likeliest that Cordero will get sent down when Margot returns. He's still only 22 and strikes out a bit too much for San Diego's liking. Still, Cordero's performance from Spring Training onward has the Padres bullish on his future.
Who is safe on this team from being traded?
-- Scott F., San Diego
A year ago, the Padres were one of the Majors' most active teams at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. They don't have as many chips to play with ahead of this year's edition. But they certainly have a few.
Who's safe? Really anyone who could have a sizeable impact in 2019 and beyond. That list includes William Myers, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe, Margot, Cordoba and any of the other top prospects on the roster. Most notably, Yangervis Solarte and a handful of bullpen arms are excluded.
Will the Padres trade arguably their biggest asset -- left-handed bullpen arms Brad Hand and Ryan Buchter -- at the Deadline, or do you see them hanging onto these guys, given that they are inexpensive arms?
-- Bryan A., San Diego
A year ago, both Hand and Buchter drew interest at the Deadline. But the Padres valued the duo a bit more than the rest of the league, and no deal materialized.
Fast forward a season, and that seems like a prudent decision. Hand has evloved into one of the game's elite left-handed relievers. Buchter, meanwhile, has quietly has erased any questions of whether his breakout 2016 campaign was a fluke. Both are available, if San Diego's price is met this time. The fact that they're inexpensive arms with multiple years of team control only makes them more appealing trade chips.
It feels like Erick Aybar is the 2017 version of Alexei Ramirez. Chase d'Arnaud has been good. Where is the shortstop battle headed?
-- Bryan A., San Diego
The two situations certainly feel similar, don't they? When the Padres added Luis Sardinas last season, Ramirez's days were numbered, and he was released less than a month later. This season, d'Arnaud has taken the reins at short after he was claimed off waivers only two weeks ago.
There's one key difference, however. San Diego released Ramirez in September, with very little season left. Right now, it's early June, and Aybar is the only player who has proven himself capable of handling the rigors of a full season at short. d'Arnaud's success has come in an extremely small sample.
That said, if d'Arnaud continues to prove himself and Aybar continues to struggle, shortstop will quickly become d'Arnaud's position -- for good.