Inbox: How will Padres’ outfield look in '20?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from fans

February 21st, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres’ Cactus League slate begins on Saturday with their annual charity game against the Mariners at Peoria Stadium. First pitch is slated for 12:10 p.m. PT (weather permitting).

What better way to celebrate than with a Padres Inbox that’s packed with questions about this spring’s roster battles? Let's get right to it:

Among Franchy Cordero, Wil Myers, Josh Naylor and Taylor Trammell, who sticks in right field?
-- Will H., San Diego

Based on those four options, I see you're assuming that grabs hold of the everyday center field job. That's a reasonable guess. Among the Padres' four options (which I outlined here), Grisham in center seems to be the likeliest scenario.

If that's the case, and one of those three lefty hitters are going to share time in right. That's not likely to be Taylor Trammell, the team's top outfield prospect, who could probably use a bit more seasoning in the Minors (and some further work in center field, too).

That leaves us with a / showdown for the bulk of the playing time -- and perhaps for only one roster spot. (If only one of them is playing, why not let the other develop in the Minor Leagues?)

Once that battle is decided, the playing-time split will be based on performance. Myers will face most lefties, but if he's swinging a hot bat, he might get starts over Cordero and Naylor against righties, too.

Is there any chance the Padres platoon Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers at first base this season?
-- Brendan, San Diego

That isn't the Padres' preferred option. When they spent $144 million to sign two years ago, they didn't envision him as a platoon piece. Then again, they also didn't envision Hosmer posting a .557 OPS over two seasons against left-handed pitching.

Perhaps it's telling that the Padres will give Myers work at first base this spring. When pressed on whether Myers might see time there against lefties, general manager A.J. Preller didn't dismiss the possibility:

"We're looking at him as an outfield possibility," Preller said. "First base versus left-handers? That's been a question some people have asked in terms of Eric Hosmer last year against left-handed pitching. Eric's worked really hard. We'll get into Spring Training, see where he's at versus all pitching. That's plan A, and we'll adjust off that."

A platoon is possible, but the roster, as currently structured, doesn't make it easy. If Myers were to slide to first base against lefties, that leaves the Padres with two left-handed-hitting outfielders. Grisham, Naylor and Cordero don’t have the numbers to justify that.

As such, it remains very likely that Hosmer starts against left-handers. If and when the Padres spell him, Ty France and Jurickson Profar are better options.

What is Josh Naylor's role this year if the Padres are unable to move Wil Myers?
-- Rich R.

Naylor's role really isn't contingent on Myers' status. In fact, he probably has a better chance at playing time if the Padres keep Myers. It seems unlikely they would deal one of their two righty-hitting outfielders without getting a replacement for Myers in return.

As things stand, Myers' inconsistency leaves the door open for Naylor to play. And right now, Naylor's role could be anything -- from Triple-A depth piece to everyday right fielder. That's entirely based on his performance.

If Naylor loses his spring battle with Cordero, it's easy to envision him being sent to Triple-A for regular at-bats. If he wins that battle? Naylor would probably split time with Myers in right field. But Naylor could still become an everyday player if he reaches his huge offensive ceiling. In that case, the Padres would push Myers to center to share time with Grisham.

What's the plan at second base? Are they still shopping or are the Padres comfortable letting the position play out over the spring?
-- Sammy M.

A.J. Preller is the Padres general manager. So, yes, they are still shopping.

But I get the sense that the Padres are content with their in-house options. They won't force the issue on the trade market.

Right now, Profar projects as the team's regular second baseman, with Greg Garcia as a lefty-hitting utility option behind him. France and Jake Cronenworth are intriguing pieces as well. There's a reasonable scenario in which all four make the roster, and the Padres seem confident they can get production by mixing and matching from that group.

Of course, Profar is in the final year of his contract, and the Padres don't have a long-term answer at second base right now. If Preller finds one in the next month, he won't hesitate to shake things up.