SAN DIEGO -- An eventful 2018-19 offseason awaits the Padres and general manager A.J. Preller.
Here's a rundown of the most frequently asked questions, which addresses some key dates, deadlines and decisions that loom over the next five months.
Which players from the 2018 roster will become free agents this offseason?
The Padres only have two pending free agents: shortstop Freddy Galvis and catcher A.J. Ellis. Both are candidates to return, though a reunion with Ellis seems unlikely given the two impressive young catchers -- Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia -- already on the roster.
At which positions will the Padres be looking to add, via free agency or trades?
The Padres' biggest needs are in the starting rotation and, to a lesser degree, at shortstop. They could also look to add a big bat, particularly one that can play third base.
• Questions Padres face this offseason
At shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr. is waiting in the wings, but he is unlikely to crack the Opening Day roster. If the Padres were to reunite with Galvis, it's possible Tatis could shift to third base. That position presents a muddled situation, with William Myers having struggled there defensively and with Christian Villanueva coming off an up-and-down rookie season.
Will the Padres be active in the trade market?
Yes. They're in dire need of quality starters, and it's unlikely they pursue (and overpay for) any big names in a mediocre class of starting pitchers. There's a greater chance they look to deal from their loaded, top-ranked farm system. At the non-waiver Trade Deadline this summer, the Padres were linked with Chris Archer and Noah Syndergaard, among others. Don't be surprised if they're again connected to All-Star caliber arms.
• Padres need OBP overhaul as well
At the Major League level, San Diego can deal from its corner outfield depth, with Myers, Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe all candidates to be traded. And while the Padres are content to move forward with a Hedges/Mejia timeshare behind the plate, it's conceivable one of them could be moved if the offer is right.
Which players are eligible for arbitration this offseason?
The Padres have seven players eligible for arbitration, none of whom is in the final year of eligibility. Here's a look at those seven players. (Players returning to the arbitration process have their salaries listed.)
Second year: Cory Spangenberg ($1.7 million), Kirby Yates ($1.06 million), Robbie Erlin ($650,000)
First year: Bryan Mitchell, Travis Jankowski, Alex Dickerson, Hedges (Super Two)
What does that mean for those players?
If the Padres tender contracts to those seven players, the two sides must either come to an agreement on a 2019 salary, or they'll enter the arbitration process. Both sides would then submit suggested salary figures, and an independent arbiter would pick one of the two.
Most players are pre-arbitration for their first three years of service time, then arbitration-eligible for the last three. Hedges, however, qualifies for arbitration as a "Super Two," meaning he's one of the top 22 percent of two-year players. As things stand, that means he's slated for four years of arbitration.
When is the deadline to tender a contract to players?
The non-tender deadline is November 30 at 5 p.m. PT. Any players who are not tendered a contract will become free agents.
Will the Padres non-tender any players?
It certainly seems likely. The Padres have a full 40-man roster, plus four players who must come off the 60-day disabled list and five top-30 prospects who need to be added. They're only losing two free agents, so that leaves 47 players for 40 spots this winter -- and that's before any further roster additions.
Of course, after a 66-96 season, there are more than a few non-tender candidates.
When is the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft?
Certain Minor Leaguers who haven't been added to a 40-man roster are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft during the Winter Meetings. (If those players are selected by another team, they must remain in the Major Leagues for an entire season or be offered back to their original club.)
The deadline for prospects to be added to the 40-man roster -- thereby becoming protected from the Rule 5 Draft -- is November 20 at 5 p.m. PT.
Which prospects need to be added to the roster to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft?
Any players who were 18 years old or younger when they signed and have played at least five seasons of pro ball. Or any players who were 19 years old or older when they signed and have played at least four seasons of pro ball.
Among their top 30 prospects, the Padres have five players who would be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft unless they're added to the 40-man roster: Right-hander Chris Paddack (ranked No. 5 in the organization by MLB Pipeline), Anderson Espinoza (No. 12), Austin Allen (No. 25), Edward Olivares (No. 28) and Pedro Avila (No. 29).
Unranked prospects who would need to be protected include: Michael Gettys, Hansel Rodriguez and Ty France.
When are the Winter Meetings this year?
The Winter Meetings will take place December 9-13 in Las Vegas. The Rule 5 Draft, as always, is scheduled for the morning of the final day of those Meetings.
When is baseball back?
Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 13 with the first full-squad arriving five days later. The Padres open their Cactus League slate on February 23 against the Mariners. Then, they'll open the 2019 regular season on March 28 against the Giants at Petco Park.