SAN DIEGO -- The Padres filled their seemingly annual shortstop vacancy on Friday morning, swinging a deal to land Freddy Galvis from Philadelphia for Minor League right-hander Enyel De Los Santos.
The 28-year-old Galvis will be a free agent after the season, but for now, he fills one of the Padres' biggest needs. In all likelihood, he'll be their Opening Day shortstop, and he's a huge defensive upgrade over the past three seasons. That's especially important for the Majors' most ground-ball happy rotation.
"Getting some stability in that spot is going to be a very good thing for our ballclub, our pitching staff," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "He's a winning baseball player."
Galvis, who batted .255/.309/.382 with 12 homers in 2017, also figures to serve as a veteran clubhouse presence on an extremely young offense. All along, Galvis was the club's top target at short, according to people in the organization, though free agents Zack Cozart and Alcides Escobar were also considered.
It's likely Galvis spends only 2018 in San Diego, with No. 4 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. on the horizon. In that regard, he's the Padres fourth consecutive one-year stopgap at short, after Clint Barmes, Alexei Ramirez and Erick Aybar in the last three years.
But unlike that trio, Galvis arrived via trade and he's still in his prime. Plus, Tatis' emergence this year made a one-year option very likely. The Padres feel as though they have their shortstop of the future. And now they have their bridge to him, too.
"I don't think it necessarily has to be only a one-year fit," Preller said. "But when other guys push to make the big league club, you're not locked into a four-year commitment. Ultimately, we looked at that as a positive. We'll see how it plays out. We'll still have flexibility here down the road."
At the Winter Meetings this week, San Diego narrowed its list of shortstops, weighing the cost of free agents vs. the acquisition cost of trade candidates. For Galvis, the price was De Los Santos, a 21-year-old hard-throwing right-hander. The Padres also designated right-hander Jose Ruiz for assignment, creating room for Galvis on the 40-man roster.
It's unclear whether De Los Santos projects as a starter in the long term. But he's been a very effective starting pitcher in the Padres' system. In 26 appearances for Double-A San Antonio last season, De Los Santos posted a 3.78 ERA with 138 strikeouts in 150 innings.
"Enyel's going to be a very good pitcher," Preller said. "They hit on a good one. I think you've got to give up something to get something."
For the Padres, who are admittedly looking to the future as much as the present, there are questions about dealing Minor League talent for a one-year option at shortstop. But their pitching depth made De Los Santos expendable. He was the club's No. 13 prospect, but the No. 8 starting pitcher.
In Preller's eyes, that was a fair price for Galvis, who has a number of ties to the organization. He was signed by VP of scouting Don Welke out of Venezuela, and he worked with new hitting coach Matt Stairs in Philadelphia.
"He's a guy that we view as a very good defensive player, a leader on the field, which is what you want from the shortstop position," said Preller. "He's got tremendous hands, a great release. From an offensive standpoint … there's tremendous growth in there."
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Set to hold a full-time role with the Padres, Galvis could help those in 15-team leagues if he receives a chance to fill a premium lineup spot. After all, the shortstop exhibited improved plate discipline last season (career-best 0.41 BB/K ratio) and has produced 32 homers, 128 RBIs, 132 runs scored and 31 steals across the past two campaigns. Meanwhile, Galvis' departure opens up the starting shortstop position for prospect J.P. Crawford in Philadelphia. Although he is likely not ready to contribute in shallow formats, Crawford should be a viable option in NL-only leagues and may earn a spot in 15-team mixed settings next season.