SAN DIEGO -- Sixty-six players will enter Padres Spring Training camp next week hoping to earn an Opening Day roster spot.In reality, however, only about two-thirds of those players have a serious chance of making the club. And less than half will be in San Diego on March 29 for
SAN DIEGO -- Sixty-six players will enter Padres Spring Training camp next week hoping to earn an Opening Day roster spot.
In reality, however, only about two-thirds of those players have a serious chance of making the club. And less than half will be in San Diego on March 29 for Opening Day against Milwaukee.
There's plenty of time for a shakeup or two before the Padres break camp in late March. But with pitchers and catchers set to report to Peoria, Ariz., on Wednesday, here's an early look at how the team's roster battles might play out.
Catcher (2):Austin Hedges, Raffy Lopez
A year ago, the Padres entered the season with four catchers on their Opening Day roster. (They had good reason for it: Rule 5 pick Luis Torrens had never played a game above Class A and Christian Bethancourt was being transitioned to a bullpen role.) This year, things look more conventional. Hedges has the starting job locked up. Meanwhile, Torrens is due for some seasoning in the Minors. That leaves Raffy Lopez and Rocky Gale fighting for the backup job, though there's still a possibility for a late addition.
• Around the Horn: Catcher
First base (1):William Myers
There was plenty of talk this offseason about a move to the outfield for Myers. That's still possible, should the club make a late splash by signing free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer. But as the roster currently stands, Myers is unquestionably the Padres' first baseman. And he's probably going to be their first baseman for the next five or six years. Myers has some obvious improvements to make at first base, after he took a step back defensively in 2017. Meanwhile, Allen Craig, who signed a Minor League deal last month, will compete for a job on the bench.
• Around the Horn: First base
Second base (2):Carlos Asuaje, Cory Spangenberg
The first real roster crunch comes at second base -- or, more specifically, between second and third. Spangenberg, Asuaje, Chase Headley and Christian Villanueva would all be roster favorites, except that none can play shortstop. The Padres need a backup at short, and it's unlikely they carry seven infielders. That leaves three roster spots open. Asuaje's strong rookie campaign makes him a favorite. And the Padres could use Spangenberg's versatility, as he figures to see time at second, third and left.
• Around the Horn: Second base
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Third base (1): Headley
There's a possibility the Padres move Headley before Opening Day. But otherwise, he has the starting job at third base locked up. (He could also serve as Myers' backup at first.) That probably leaves Villanueva on the outside looking in. Spangenberg and Dusty Coleman (should he win the backup shortstop job) are options to serve behind Headley at third. Villanueva must set himself apart with his bat this spring if he wants to win a roster spot.
• Around the Horn: Third base
Shortstop (2):Freddy Galvis, Coleman
The Padres solved their shortstop conundrum with a December trade for Galvis from Philadelphia. The 28-year-old standout defender has one year remaining on his contract, meaning he could be the club's fourth stopgap shortstop in four years. (This time, however, top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. is waiting in the wings.) The question marks arise behind Galvis. Allen Cordoba, a Rule 5 pick last year, could use more time in the Minors, as could Javier Guerra. And Jose Rondon was recently dealt to the White Sox. That leaves Coleman as the likeliest option behind Galvis at short.
• Around the Horn: Shortstop
Outfield (4):Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Jose Pirela, Matthew Szczur
Barring injuries, Margot, Renfroe and Pirela will comprise the starting outfield. The club is cautiously optimistic that Alex Dickerson has fully recovered from back surgery. But the prudent decision might be to take things slowly. There's probably one more outfield spot available for a backup center fielder, and three players -- Szczur, Travis Jankowski and Franchy Cordero -- will compete for it. Szczur, the most experienced of the bunch, is out of options and probably the early favorite.
• Around the Horn: LF | Around the Horn: CF | Around the Horn: RF
Rotation (5):Clayton Richard, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Perdomo, Dinelson Lamet, Robbie Erlin
The Padres enter camp with 10 arms set to compete for five rotation spots. Richard and Mitchell are prohibitive favorites. After that, young right-handers Perdomo and Lamet should be given a chance to build on their early successes. That would leave six arms for one spot (with one or two probably better suited for the bullpen). Tyson Ross, Christopher Young and Jordan Lyles will need to make a serious impression this spring to earn a rotation spot. Meanwhile, Colin Rea, Matt Strahm and Erlin are poised to return from injury. We'll give Erlin, the most experienced of the three, a very slight edge.
• Around the Horn: Starting rotation
Bullpen (8):Brad Hand, Kirby Yates, Phil Maton, Craig Stammen, Kazuhisa Makita, Buddy Baumann, Strahm, Lyles
Hand, Yates, Stammen and Makita are all destined for high-leverage innings this season. Maton, a candidate to be a future closer, is probably in, too. Lyles could theoretically factor into the mix as a long man who can also serve as a spot starter in a pinch. That leaves Baumann, Strahm, Carter Capps, Jose Torres, Colten Brewer and Kyle McGrath fighting for two spots. Strahm's upside might be too great to pass up, and Baumann's late-season success last year probably gives him the early advantage.
• Around the Horn: Bullpen
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.