These 5 players are on Padres' roster bubble

July 17th, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- In the next few days, Padres decision-makers will sit down and outline the details of an Opening Day roster. They won't finalize 30 spots -- those calls will be made next week. But they will address some important questions.

What’s the right number of pitchers for an expanded Opening Day squad? What are the benefits of carrying a third catcher rather than a fifth outfielder or a two-way player? How does the presence of a designated hitter factor into these roster cuts?

As the Padres attempt to answer those questions, it leaves a handful of prominent position players squarely on the roster bubble. Here's a rundown of five, with a projection on where they currently stand.

Luis Torrens, C
Status: Toss-up

Torrens' presence on the Opening Day roster should go a long way toward telling us how the Padres plan to use primary catchers Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejía. If they'd like to sneak both into the lineup using the DH, maybe that boosts Torrens' chances as a third catcher. If they'd like to free up room to use Mejía as a pinch-hitter, that might also give Torrens a boost.

The 24-year-old has been mostly a forgotten commodity in the Padres' system. He's not a top prospect, because he's not technically a prospect, having played a season in the big leagues as a Rule 5 selection. But Torrens has turned heads lately, and even if he doesn't make the roster, he would serve as the primary catcher on the team’s taxi squad.

Jake Cronenworth, IF/RHP
Status: Likely out

Six spots in the Padres' infield seem fairly secure: the starting group of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Jurickson Profar and Eric Hosmer, plus Ty France and Greg Garcia as options off the bench. If Jorge Mateo is back in the mix by Opening Day, it's hard to envision room for Cronenworth as an eighth infielder. (Yes, he's eligible to be used in a two-way capacity this season, but the Padres are already loaded with bullpen options.)

Mateo remains sidelined after a positive COVID-19 test, and it'd be unfair to speculate on his potential return date. Thus, Cronenworth still has a shot to work his way into the mix, particularly considering his strong glove as a backup shortstop.

Josh Naylor, OF/DH
Status: Toss-up

If Naylor makes the roster, he's expected to serve mostly as a DH/pinch-hit option. The Padres have several solid defenders in their outfield mix, and it's hard to envision the bat-first Naylor getting regular reps in the field.

That makes Naylor's presence on the roster something of a philosophical question: Do the Padres think Naylor can hit enough to justify leaving one of their depth pitching options off the 30-man roster? Considering that they aren't yet certain how many pitchers they’ll carry, that's an impossible question to answer right now.

Edward Olivares, OF
Status: Likely in

Olivares was a long shot for a spot on the Opening Day roster before Spring Training. Then, he dazzled in the Cactus League and has "made an even better impression," in Summer Camp, in the words of manager Jayce Tingler.

With a week of intrasquad games and exhibitions remaining, Olivares has not yet locked up his place on the roster. But the Padres see plenty of value in his speed, defense and dynamic right-handed bat. He’s a strong favorite for a bench spot and might even swing his way into a starting role.

Taylor Trammell, OF
Status: Likely out

Trammell's case for a roster spot could take a hit with the emergence of Olivares. He's also only 22 and still the team's top outfield prospect (and the club's No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline). He has looked sharp against big league competition, both in Spring Training and in intrasquad games this month.

"Just hoping he continues his career path and growth, because he's got a lot of things he can offer," Tingler said.