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Inbox: Will Margot break camp with Padres?

March 28, 2017

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With less than a week remaining until the Padres open their 2017 campaign at Dodger Stadium, a handful of roster questions remain unanswered.Where do Manuel Margot and Luis Perdomo start the year? How many catchers are feasible for the Opening Day roster? How many Rule 5ers?MLB.com answered

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With less than a week remaining until the Padres open their 2017 campaign at Dodger Stadium, a handful of roster questions remain unanswered.
Where do Manuel Margot and Luis Perdomo start the year? How many catchers are feasible for the Opening Day roster? How many Rule 5ers?
MLB.com answered those questions and more from readers in advance of Monday's season opener.
:: Submit a question to the Padres Inbox ::
Do you think Margot is on the Opening Day roster?
-- Sean

It didn't look good earlier this month when Margot was battling knee soreness and Alex Dickerson was slated to return from his back injury. But things have changed drastically since early March. Dickerson's back flared up on him again, and he has been ruled out until mid-April with a bulging disk. Meanwhile, veteran outfielder Collin Cowgill missed three weeks of Cactus League play because of a rib cage injury.
Should Margot spend 24 days in the Minors this season, the Padres would gain another year of team control. (Meaning he'd remain a Padre for his age-28 season.) Initially, it appeared Margot would simply start the year by spending about a month at Triple-A. Now, it's looking more likely that he starts the year with the Major League club, before heading to the Minors when Dickerson returns.

Realistically, how many Rule 5 guys are going to make the Opening Day roster?
-- Tommy N., San Diego

Realistically, all three -- Miguel Diaz, Luis Torrens and Allen Cordoba -- could be Padres on Opening Day. In fact, all three are probably roster favorites. The Padres have come away impressed with what they've seen out of the trio this spring. And they have enough roster flexibility to find room for them.
A more pressing question is how many can stick for the entire season. (Per Rule 5 stipulations, they'd be offered back to their original club if they don't remain on the Padres' 25-man roster.) There's space for Diaz at the back of the bullpen, in the same way there was for Perdomo last year. Diaz is also the most advanced of the three, and it shouldn't be an issue to keep him on board.
Things get trickier with Torrens and Cordoba, who are hitting .152 and .155, respectively. If they continue to struggle, it will severely handicap the Padres' roster flexibility. The likeliest scenario may be that two of the three Rule 5ers make it through the year.

Of Perdomo, Jarred Cosart and Trevor Cahill, who will be the odd-man out in the starting rotation?
-- Tyler C., Temecula, Calif.

Other than service time, is there any reason to send Perdomo to Triple-A?
-- Josh B., San Diego

These two questions are inextricably linked, because Perdomo has been arguably the Padres' best starter this spring. The 23-year-old sophomore was also their best starter during the second half of last season, and -- based solely on merit -- it's hard to envision the Padres excluding Perdomo from their rotation.
Perdomo, of course, is an important part of the Padres' future, and if he spends 12 days in the Minors, he would be under contract for an extra year. Thing is, those 12 days could come at any point during the season.
I'd say it's likeliest that Perdomo opens the year in the rotation. He's never thrown more than 146 2/3 innings in a year, and the Padres could option him for a couple weeks in the middle of the season to ease the burden on his arm (much like they did with Colin Rea last year). After Perdomo, it comes down to Cahill and Cosart -- with the loser going to the bullpen. Cahill has been much more impressive this spring.

Will the Padres really have four catchers on the Opening Day roster?
-- Andrew S., San Diego

It seems like mostly speculation at this point. Sure, there are reasons for doing it, given the current construction of the roster. But it would put a burden on the rest of the team if Austin Hedges, Torrens, Christian Bethancourt and Hector Sanchez were all taking up roster spots.
In that sense, Sanchez would appear to be the odd-man out. He's hit well this spring. But Bethancourt is out of options, and Torrens, as a Rule 5 pick, can't be sent to the Minors. Expect Sanchez to start the year with Triple-A El Paso, where he can serve as a contingency plan in the case of an injury -- or if Torrens doesn't catch on with the big league club.
What are the odds we see Phil Maton in a Padre uniform this year?
-- Ryan D., Vista, Calif.

Maton, the Padres No. 18 prospect, has had arguably the most impressive spring of any relief pitcher. He's allowed one run on four hits over nine innings, while striking out 11. And he's proven his high-spin fastball works against big league hitters.
With only six innings of experience above Class A Advanced, Maton is probably destined to open the year at Triple-A El Paso. But if he keeps blowing away hitters the way he has this spring, it won't be long before he's on the mound at Petco Park.

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