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4 things we learned about the Padres in Vegas

December 13, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- A.J. Preller and the Padres were surprisingly quiet in Las Vegas at this week's Winter Meetings.The club signed Alex Dickerson to a Minors deal and made a selection in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. But four days passed without a single big league transaction.• Why

LAS VEGAS -- A.J. Preller and the Padres were surprisingly quiet in Las Vegas at this week's Winter Meetings.
The club signed Alex Dickerson to a Minors deal and made a selection in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. But four days passed without a single big league transaction.
• Why Padres were quiet at Winter Meetings
That's not to say the Meetings were entirely unproductive for outside observers. Here's a look at four things we learned from the Padres' time in Las Vegas.
1. Third base is the Padres' top priority
Not starting pitching. Not trading an outfielder. Preller doesn't feel those are absolute necessities.
"I definitely wouldn't be surprised if we go into the year with the group as it stands in the outfield," Preller said.
As for the pitching: "We feel like we have components for a starting rotation in the organization right now. The need to have to go out and leave these Meetings or this offseason with a true established veteran guy -- it would be nice, but honestly it's more realistic to continue the path."
It still seems unlikely that the Padres stand pat with their rotation and outfield. But the point is: It's possible. At third base, on the other hand, they are absolutely going to add. How they do that, exactly, is another question.
2. The Padres seem committed to William Myers
The foremost trade candidate in a crowded San Diego outfield, Myers has grabbed plenty of headlines this offseason. There are a handful of reasons the Padres might be looking to deal him. And there are a handful of reasons why they'd like to hold onto him. (Here are three of each.)
But they're certainly not going to trade Myers for peanuts. If the right offer isn't on the table, the club seems committed to Myers -- whether as a left fielder, a third baseman or a versatile hybrid of the two.
"He's a guy that's got power, he can steal bases, he's an athlete," Preller said. "It's just hard to find position players that can beat you in multiple ways, and he can do that. He's a definite part of things."

If Myers stays, one of the other corner outfielders -- either Hunter Renfroe or Franmil Reyes -- could be on the trading block. But it's also possible the Padres go into camp with six big league-caliber outfielders.
"You're creating competition, which is something we've pushed here in general the last few years," Preller said. "In that scenario, most likely, a really good Major League-caliber player is not going to break with our club. Hopefully that brings out the best in all of those guys."
3. Everyone wants the Padres' prospects
There's a reason the Padres were reportedly one of the most active teams at the Winter Meetings, even though they accomplished nothing in terms of transactions. They're in on seemingly every major trade target, because no team in baseball has better trade chips.
It seems very unlikely the Padres deal from those top-tier trade chips. Fernando Tatis Jr. isn't going anywhere, and it's going to take an awful lot for pitching prospects MacKenzie Gore, Chris Paddack and Luis Patino to be pried away.

The Padres are looking for long-term answers. (That's why Noah Syndergaard is so appealing; he's got three years of team control remaining.) But they've also been active in discussions for some more minor pieces like Jurickson Profar and Sonny Gray. In those cases, Preller could deal from his prospect depth, without giving up any of the biggest names.
Padres' Top 30 prospects
4. Franchy Cordero could get a shot in center field
It's a really crowded outfield. As things stand, Manuel Margot is the Padres' center fielder, and Preller backed him on Tuesday when he said, "It would take a pretty good effort from one of the other outfielders to supplant Manny as the main guy in center field."
But the Padres also believe Cordero is capable of "a really good effort." He's the only Padres outfielder who hasn't been rumored as a trade candidate, and he's fully recovered from elbow surgery that sidelined him in May. He's also a perfect complement as a lefty hitter to righties Reyes, Renfroe, Myers and Margot.
"He's going to have the opportunity to compete," said Padres skipper Andy Green. "We go back to his last year and we think about what he was doing before he started having elbow issues, his numbers were outstanding offensively."

The Padres are in dire need of an offensive boost. Cordero's defense isn't on Margot's level, but the club might ultimately be willing to sacrifice that. A few of the organization's decision-makers want to see Cordero get regular playing time. If the Padres hold onto their full contingent of corner outfielders, Cordero's best shot at playing time might actually be in center field.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.