Inbox: Who takes over as closer for Padres?
Beat reporter Corey Brock answers offseason questions from fans
Now that you've had your fill of turkey and all the trimmings of Thanksgiving, let's dive back into the Padres' offseason with a list of your questions.
What do the Padres feel as far as viable closer options within the system? I don't see anyone on the 40-man roster I would want closing games for me.
-- Harrison Montague, Provo, Utah
I agree that there's no one at the upper levels of the Padres' system who rates as Major League-ready in terms of closing games or even pitching in the back end of games. That said, there's some options on the 40-man roster. Cesar Vargas, whom the Padres just signed to a big league deal, could pitch important innings if he's indeed a fit. Kevin Quackenbush has closed games before and Brandon Maurer, who had a big season as the team's seventh-inning guy, could slide into a more important role in the bullpen. But will either of them close? I'm not sure. I know the team has shown interest in free agent Joakim Soria. That said, I don't think this is where the Padres allocate a lot of money moving forward.
Would a trade with the Angels seem possible? Their need of a good catcher and second baseman or third baseman would match up well with us. The team could then take a contract off their hands like C.J. Wilson and maybe a younger pitcher like Andrew Heaney?
-- Chas Parada, San Diego
The Angels just signed Geovany Soto and he might well end up in a job share with Carlos Perez behind the plate, so I'm not sure the Angels would still be looking to add a catcher -- though someone like Derek Norris would offer an upgrade there. The Padres would like to add a left-handed pitcher, but Wilson is set to make $20 million this season in the final year of his deal. Unless the Angels are willing to take on some of that, I don't think the Padres would be interested. Heaney would certainly be a nice fit, but I imagine they see him as a very nice cost-controlled piece of their rotation moving forward.
Any chance the Padres trade away Andrew Cashner to another team? I know that Tyson Ross is wanted, so maybe a package deal?
-- Jason Freund, Santee, Calif.
I wonder about this myself, Jason. I don't think the market for Cashner would be nearly as strong as it was a year ago at this time. He threw a career-high 184 2/3 innings, but his walk rate jumped (from 2.12 per nine innings in 2014 to 3.22) and he averaged fewer than six innings a start. Still, it stands to reason that he was a bit unlucky (.330 BABIP, batting average on balls in play) and the defense let him down (22 unearned runs). A team (and maybe the Padres are that team) could bet on or hope for improved returns in 2016. There's value there in the market for sure -- I'm just not sure how other teams view him.
Do you think Matt Kemp will be shopped before Spring Training? If so, what prospects would the Padres get in return for him?
-- Michelle Redondo, San Diego
This is weird strange one, Michelle. I don't know how much stock to put into the rumors that the Padres are looking to move Kemp. Certainly, he's owed a lot of money on his current deal, but the team knew that when it acquired him last year. I think moving him in a deal wouldn't net you anything other than salary relief from the team that would take him on. General manager A.J. Preller will listen to offers on all of his players. I just don't know if there's a deal out there where the Padres can move Kemp and his salary.
Hi, Corey, I'm a big Padres fan and I'm curious to see how things unfold this offseason. Do you believe that the Pads will land a top free agent?
-- Robbie Charles, San Diego
Hey, Robbie, good question. We know this much: The Padres trimmed about $19 million of payroll for 2016 by trading relievers Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel. Preller even went as far to say the team has greater financial flexibility now to potentially pursue players in free agency. But will they? I can't see the Padres getting too deep in conversations with some of the big-ticket players out there -- Chris Davis, etc. But there could be some smarter and less expensive fits. Could the Padres find a shortstop on a smaller deal, like Alexei Ramirez, while waiting for newly acquired Javier Guerra to reach the big leagues, for example?