Padres ready to start shoring up roster

December 1st, 2016

SAN DIEGO -- In advance of next week's Winter Meetings, the Padres have been oddly quiet so far this offseason. They won't remain inactive much longer.

The Friars have a number of holes to plug on one of the youngest rosters in baseball -- primarily on the mound and at shortstop. When general manager A.J. Preller and Co. descend upon the nation's capital, expect the groundwork to be laid for a few moves. and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 6 a.m. PT.

One of San Diego's top veteran targets, outfielder , inked a one-year deal with the Cubs on Tuesday. The Padres don't necessarily need an outfielder, but they'd certainly like to bring some veteran help on board to a 40-man roster that is currently comprised exclusively of players in their 20s.

Club needs

Starting pitching: remains questionable for Opening Day after undergoing thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, and the Padres are already without , and , who underwent Tommy John surgery. Whether through trade or free agency, the Friars will pursue at least two big league-caliber starting pitchers. On top of that, they'd like to add some depth, should injuries crop up as they did in 2016. and -- who joined the Padres midseason this year -- are options to return.

Shortstop: has a great chance to win the starting shortstop job in 2017. But entering camp, the club would like to find some competition for him. The Padres' system is deep at short, but Sardinas is the only big league-ready player -- and he's never received more than 180 at-bats in a season.

Bullpen: The Friars like the back end of their 'pen but are severely lacking in depth. You can bet the front office will be scouring the market for an arm like -- someone who can be signed for cheap and potentially flipped for a prospect or two. As it stands, only three Padres bullpen spots appear to be locked up for 2017 -- four if is healthy.

Whom they can trade if necessary

: Solarte has proven himself to be a valuable offensive contributor after hitting .286/.341/.467 in 109 games last season. Plus, he's under team control for three more years. The Padres are averse to trading , whom they see as a building block of their franchise. That means Solarte would likely fetch the most of any available player. Still, he's controllable enough where the Padres can be picky with their offers.

: After he was claimed off waivers in April, Hand made a name for himself in 2016 with an immensely productive season. The 26-year-old southpaw led the Majors with 82 appearances, and only had more strikeouts among lefty relievers. Given the significance placed on high-workload, high-strikeout relief pitchers this past postseason, Hand will be a hot commodity.

: Strangely enough, Buchter -- who just completed his rookie season -- is the oldest player on the Padres' 40-man roster. He's coming off a remarkable campaign in which he posted a 2.86 ERA, despite the second-lowest ground-ball rate ever recorded. Buchter seemed to tire toward the end of the season, and he undoubtedly has work to do to build strength. But like Hand, he'll be highly valued in a reliever's market.

: Jankowski won't come cheap. But the Padres are fielding calls on the 25-year-old center fielder, and if No. 2 prospect is ready to take the next step, Jankowski could be expendable. With wheels and a penchant for reaching base, Jankowski could fetch a nice return as a potential leadoff threat -- not to mention his otherworldly outfield range.

: The Padres have four young outfielders whom they view as pieces for their future. Top hitting prospects Margot and aren't available, which leaves Dickerson and Jankowski. Ideally, they'd like to hang on to both. But if a rival GM comes calling offering a young starter, Preller might be willing to part with a fourth outfielder.

Rule 5 Draft

No team was more active in last year's Rule 5 Draft than San Diego. The Padres scooped four players, two of whom -- and -- were still with the club at season's end. The Friars currently have a full 40-man roster. But they have a week to clear space and could do so by outrighting players to Triple-A or by choosing not to tender them a contract.

Big contracts they might unload

There are none. The Padres unloaded the burdensome contracts of , Melvin Upton Jr. and a year ago. As a result, they won't be making any payroll-based trades at the Winter Meetings. The largest contract they could theoretically deal is that of Ross, who is entering his final year of arbitration. But if Ross can prove he's healthy, his value would be significantly higher at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Payroll summary

Counting the money owed to Upton and Shields, the Padres' current payroll forecast -- including projected arbitration raises -- sits around $70 million. That figure will likely hit $80 million with a few free-agent signings. But Preller has said he doesn't think it's worth splurging right now, given the current market and the Padres' commitment to developing their young players.