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Inbox: Who is Padres' 3B on Opening Day?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell fields offseason questions from fans
January 25, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- In less than a month, the Padres will be playing real baseball games.Their Cactus League slate begins Feb. 23 against the Mariners, 10 days after pitchers and catchers report to Peoria, Ariz. It can't come soon enough.Until then, here's another edition of the Padres Inbox to tide

SAN DIEGO -- In less than a month, the Padres will be playing real baseball games.
Their Cactus League slate begins Feb. 23 against the Mariners, 10 days after pitchers and catchers report to Peoria, Ariz. It can't come soon enough.
Until then, here's another edition of the Padres Inbox to tide you over.
Who is the most likely Opening Day third baseman -- Ty France, Jesus Quiroz or Nick Senzel?
-- Sean T.

You take those three, I'll take the field.
I don't think anyone from that trio is particularly likely. But among that group, it's France at No. 1, with Quiroz close behind. Then there's a huge gap before the Reds' Senzel, who's ranked as the sport's No. 2 third-base prospect by MLB Pipeline.
General manager A.J. Preller is clearly looking for a long-term third baseman, but Cincinnati probably isn't giving up Senzel. Yes, the Padres have interest (because of course they do). But their best chance of matching up might be by involving Cleveland. Three-team trades are notoriously difficult to pull off, and there's no indication this rumor has any legs.
In any case, it's far likelier that the Padres use free agency to add a third baseman. Marwin Gonzalez and Mike Moustakas remain available (as does Manny Machado, of course). Utility options like Yangervis Solarte and Adeiny Hechavarria would come cheap. I'd say there's a 50 percent chance that the Opening Day starter isn't on the roster yet. (And it isn't going to be Senzel either.)
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What is the most likely scenario if all six outfielders are on the roster on Opening Day?
-- Ryan W.

That's a sizable "if." Yes, the Padres have six players who have spent time as starting outfielders over the past two seasons. But there's still a decent chance for a trade before Opening Day. If not a trade, it'd also take some luck for all six to remain healthy. Franmil Reyes (knee) and Franchy Cordero (elbow) are coming off surgeries, and William Myers missed half of last season with various ailments.
But let's work with the assumption that those three, plus Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski are all available. Someone's getting left off the Opening Day roster.
Myers has a spot no matter what, and Margot and Renfroe would really have to struggle to miss out. I'll give Jankowski a place, too, mainly because he's an elite speed-and-defense threat, making him the perfect bench piece.
That leaves Reyes and Cordero -- both of whom the Padres want getting regular at-bats. It's easier to get Cordero those at-bats. He's a lefty hitter who could platoon with the righty starters at all three positions. Reyes would theoretically be stuck behind Renfroe in right. In this scenario, I'd guess Reyes opens the year in Triple-A. But I'd also guess he wouldn't be there for long.

Who has the best "stuff" of the starting pitchers on the roster right now?
-- Eduardo

Is Matt Strahm a starting pitcher? If so, it's him. He gets swings and misses at an elite clip with three pitches, and he finished in the top 15 percent in opponents' batting average with all of those pitches.
Of course, Strahm has a long way to go before he's truly a "starting pitcher." First, he needs to prove that he can handle the workload. Last season, the Padres used him almost exclusively out of the bullpen, and they rarely used him on consecutive days. It was their way of easing his burden in his first year back from knee surgery.
This year, Strahm will report to camp as a starter. He's bulked up during the offseason, and he'll join a competition that should feature close to 10 candidates. Rest assured, if Strahm isn't in the Opening Day rotation, it won't be because of his "stuff." And if he's not in the Opening Day rotation, I'd pass the "best stuff" award to Joey Lucchesi.
(For the purposes of this exercise, we're ruling out Garrett Richards and Dinelson Lamet. Both are recovering from Tommy John surgery and are expected to open the season on the 60-day disabled list. If we counted them, Richards would be first, and Lamet would have a strong case for second.)

Which non-roster invite is most likely to make the Padres' Opening Day roster?
-- Tim T.

Funny, I had just finished answering this question when the Padres dropped their full list of 21 non-roster invites Thursday morning. Not that their list changes my answer:
The safest bet here is usually a relief pitcher. In the last two seasons, Adam Cimber and Craig Stammen worked their way on to the Opening Day squad without a 40-man roster spot. Kyle McGrath, T.J. Weir and Carlos Torres are early candidates to do the same.
But the hole is so glaring at third base that it's probably worth looking there first. Both Quiroz and Jason Vosler are not on the roster. Quiroz, 26, routinely reached base at a .400-plus clip during his seven seasons in the Mexican League, and he did so again in the Boston organization last year. Vosler, meanwhile, slugged 23 homers for Cubs affiliates in 2018.
If France and Greg Garcia both make the Opening Day squad, there's still room for one more infielder. I'd lean toward Quiroz, who played second, third and short in the Mexican League. His versatility and OBP skills are precisely what the Padres need.

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