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Padres ponder infield options for 2019

Club eyes upgrades with top prospect Tatis waiting in wings
December 18, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- The Ian Kinsler signing certainly threw a bit of a wrinkle into the Padres' 2019 infield plans.No, nothing's settled just yet -- aside from Eric Hosmer at first base. And, no, the move doesn't affect the long-term plans for top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias.But

SAN DIEGO -- The Ian Kinsler signing certainly threw a bit of a wrinkle into the Padres' 2019 infield plans.
No, nothing's settled just yet -- aside from Eric Hosmer at first base. And, no, the move doesn't affect the long-term plans for top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias.
But it leaves general manager A.J. Preller with some interesting decisions over the next two months. The Padres are actively searching for at least one more infielder, and they've essentially left themselves with these four options as to how they proceed:
Sign or trade for a third baseman
This is probably the likeliest option, and it's the Padres' preference, too. But the best fits at third base would come via trade, and it's worth wondering how much Preller would be willing to give up for, say, Jurickson Profar.
As free agents go, Mike Moustakas is already 30, and Manny Machado is probably going to ask for more than what the Padres are willing to pay. That doesn't leave much else.
If the Padres acquire a fringe starter, he'd serve as the everyday guy until Tatis arrives (possibly in late April or May). With Tatis at short, Urias would shift to second, and Kinsler would fight for playing with the newly acquired third baseman.
Sign or trade for a shortstop
The Kinsler signing changes the way the organization views a potential reunion with Freddy Galvis. The Padres wanted a stopgap at short, and Kinsler essentially provides that (by way of Urias being able to move there).
It's still possible, though unlikely, that Galvis returns. When Tatis arrives, Galvis could form something of a platoon with Kinsler. (Galvis could either shift to third base full-time, or Tatis could move to third when Galvis is at short.) But that option might cost too much, in terms of years and dollars, when someone like Adeiny Hechavarria could come much cheaper.
Meanwhile, Marwin Gonzalez sounds like a seemingly perfect fit. Of course, given Gonzalez's versatility, he's a nice fit on 29 other clubs, too. But Gonzalez could easily fill the void at short for a month or two before transitioning to a more permanent role at third base. His presence would also make things easier on both Tatis and Urias, as he could spell both throughout the season.
The Padres have reportedly checked with Gonzalez's camp. He won't come cheap, but it's a scenario worth keeping an eye on.

Use William Myers primarily at third
This possibility is mostly dependent on how Myers performs during Spring Training at third base. He struggled there over the season's final month and a half, but perhaps with an offseason's worth of work, Myers could turn things around. If he shows progress during camp, Myers clearly has a bat worth sticking in the lineup.
Then again, Myers is probably only going to get significant reps at third if the Padres don't trade any corner outfielders. That seems unlikely at this point. Myers, himself, is a trade candidate -- as are Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes.
It's still possible the Padres look to use Myers in a hybrid role where he shifts between left field and third base, allowing the club to get the best possible matchups elsewhere. But because Myers is such a question mark at third, it's hard to envision Preller not adding a backup plan behind him. That would bring us to...
Stand pat, and wait for Tatis
This scenario presumes that Myers is either an outfielder or traded by Opening Day. It leaves the Padres' infield extremely thin -- and basically wide open at third base. It's not an ideal situation, but Urias' versatility helps.
Against lefties, the righty-hitting Ty France could see most of the playing time, with Urias at short and Kinsler at second. Meanwhile, Greg Garcia has decent career splits against right-handed pitching and could play short, with Urias moving to second and Kinsler (or another lefty-hitting platoon option like Jason Vosler or Jesus Quiroz) at third.
When Tatis arrives, it'd become an all-out competition for playing time at third base, with the two prospects anchoring the middle of the diamond. All the while, the club would keep a sharp eye on another prospect -- 20-year-old third baseman Hudson Potts. His Minor League development in 2019 could impact San Diego's decision to add a long-term solution at third next offseason.
Ultimately, however, the Padres will be disappointed if they don't at least add something in their infield over the next couple months.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.