Predicting the Padres' Opening Day roster
San Diego enters Spring Training with six big league-caliber outfielders
SAN DIEGO -- It's a fool's errand to project an Opening Day roster before Spring Training begins. Future transactions, injuries and performance will make a major impact on the Padres' decision-making over the next few weeks.
Lucky for you, I am that fool. Here's an early guess at what the Padres' 25-man squad might look like when they break camp ahead of their March 28 opener against San Francisco:
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Catcher (2):Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejía
Hedges has a secure place on the Opening Day roster. The only question: How often will he play? Is he the regular starter, or would he split time with Mejia, MLB Pipeline's No. 2 catching prospect? Perhaps Austin Allen could work his way onto the roster with his bat, or maybe veteran Chris Stewart finds his way into the mix.
First base (1): Eric Hosmer
Hosmer needs a bounce-back season after struggling in his Padres debut last year. The good news? He's done it before. In fact, he's got a tendency to rotate between solid seasons and poor ones. In his four odd-numbered years in the big leagues, Hosmer owns a .303/.360/.467 slash line and 12.7 WAR.
Second base (1): Ian Kinsler
Kinsler's the projected Opening Day starter in San Diego, but only until top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. arrives to play shortstop. That's when Luis Urías will slide from short to second base, leaving Kinsler in something of a utility role. The 36-year-old veteran free-agent signing will also get plenty of reps at third base during camp.
• Padres' Top 30 prospects
Third base (1): Ty France (or free-agent signing)
The Padres are still pursuing a handful of third-base options -- including the biggest prize at the position, Manny Machado. If they come away empty-handed, France is the likeliest starter, perhaps sharing time with utility men Esteban Quiroz, Greg Garcia and eventually Kinsler, too. France, 24, batted .267/.355/.464 with 22 dingers between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
Shortstop (1): Urias
Urias is the club's presumed second baseman of the future. He's also the shortstop of the present. In the Minors, Urias split time between the two spots, and he's more than capable at short, though he'd likely slide to second when the lefty-hitting Garcia starts.
Utility (2): Garcia, Quiroz
With the current roster construction, Garcia and Quiroz -- lefty hitters in a righty-heavy infield -- should get plenty of platoon starts. Their versatility makes them roster favorites, though Jose Pirela, Jason Vosler and Seth Mejias-Brean will get looks, as well.
Outfield (5): Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, Manuel Margot, Travis Jankowski
It's still possible San Diego deals from its glut of outfielders, though it's looking less likely by the day. The Padres wanted spring competition, and they're going to get it. A big league-caliber outfielder could be left off the Opening Day squad. In this scenario, it's Franchy Cordero.
Starting pitcher (5): Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Robbie Erlin, Matt Strahm, Bryan Mitchell (or free-agent signing)
Lucchesi and Lauer are in. Erlin and Strahm, meanwhile, have secured their roster places, but don't know yet whether they'll be pitching in the rotation or the 'pen. Mitchell, Luis Perdomo, Jacob Nix, Brett Kennedy, Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill will also be competing for spots, but don't be surprised if the Padres add another arm to that mix by the start of camp.
Relief pitcher (7): Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen, José Castillo, Robert Stock, Phil Maton, Trey Wingenter, Miguel Diaz
It's still possible that Strahm or Erlin (or both) moves to the 'pen, presumably taking Diaz's job as long man. Keep an eye on Brad Wieck as well, given that the Padres might have Castillo as the only other left-hander in their relief corps.
Here's the roster projection in full, including two players expected to be placed on the 60-day injured list when the season begins:
Ty France (or free-agent signing)
Bryan Mitchell (or free-agent signing)
RHP Garrett Richards (Tommy John surgery)
RHP Dinelson Lamet (Tommy John surgery)