Inbox: Could Myers be used as third baseman?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell fields offseason questions from fans

February 8th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Padres pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Wednesday. That leaves us with time for one more offseason Inbox.
Let's get straight to your questions.
I know is moving back to the outfield, but if we don't sign a third baseman, is there any chance he plays third anyway?
-- Josh K., Los Angeles

I keep posing this same question to Padres decision-makers. They keep giving me the same answer: No. Wil Myers is going to be a full-time outfielder in 2019.
I'll expand that to another player, too: won't be playing third base, either.
Let's start with Myers. He was pretty poor at third last season, and he's been solid in left field. The Padres may have an outfield logjam, particularly in the corners. But they think the best path to get Myers back to his All-Star-caliber form is to play him where he's comfortable and let him flourish. I've been told that the only way he plays third base would be as an emergency substitution.
As for Mejia, the premise is similar. The Padres have as their starting catcher. So why not work Mejia at third, where he played 10 games in the Indians organization in 2017? Well, Mejia is a pretty elite catching prospect, but his defense is raw. He needs to hone his pitch-framing, and he needs extensive work with this young pitching staff. In that sense, the Padres see the most value in giving Mejia reps exclusively behind the plate.
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If a universal designated hitter were to be implemented, how would it affect the Padres? Would it change their plan to trade an outfielder?
-- Tom S., San Diego

It's hard to envision a National League team being aided more by a universal DH than the Padres. They've got three young hitters -- all with immense upside -- who would benefit greatly from a DH spot in the lineup.
To be clear, this is still only hypothetical, based on reports. There is no indication that expansion of the DH is imminent, or even certain.
was the team's best hitter last season, but he's a defensive liability currently fighting for playing time with two other righty-hitting corner outfielders. , who was recently ranked as the Padres' best prospect (No. 15) outside MLB Pipeline's Top 100, is a skilled hitter without an obvious position. And catching prospect Mejia is stuck behind Hedges on the depth chart, but he might force his way into the lineup with his bat.
Now, you might be saying, "Only one of those guys can be the DH, AJ."
And that's the point! In that group, there's a lefty, a righty and a switch-hitter. Imagine an offense with an extra lineup spot available for those three hitters to mix and match as necessary. It's suddenly pretty deep.
So would a DH change the organization's plans? I think the mere possibility that it might happen already has. Reyes and Naylor -- long rumored as trade candidates -- are still Padres, after all.
With all the free-agent and trade speculation, predict for me: How many players will be on the Padres' Opening Day 25-man roster that are not under contract with them right now?
-- Jesse C., San Diego

Crazy to think pitchers and catchers report in less than a week, and the Padres might still be pulling pieces from outside the organization for their Opening Day roster.
I'd guess that there are still two Opening Day-roster pieces that will be added over the next month and a half.
The Friars are probably going to sign a third baseman, and they've got quite the range of options -- from to to . But it's hard envision San Diego simply standing pat, even if the only addition is a utility/platoon player.
I'm less certain that the Padres land a starting pitcher. They seem somewhat content to enter the season with the current group. But I still think there's a move to be made there. The current rotation is extremely inexperienced, and if general manager A.J. Preller wants legitimate spring competition for places, he'd be best served to add someone.
Why don't we go after Moustakas instead of the big contracts? We can get Moustakas plus a good pitcher for the price of either or Machado.
-- Dan T., Imperial Beach

The Padres are, in fact, going after Moustakas. And there's plenty of sense in that move. He'd presumably sign an affordable two-year contract, and he could serve as their third baseman while the club assesses Minor League options, like Hudson Potts and Gabriel Arias. In a couple of years, the Friars could re-evaluate their need at third and act accordingly.
But, Machado answers that need both short- and long-term. He's one of the 10 best position players in baseball. Sure, the Padres could use an ace, but there's not a single pitcher on the market who comes close to providing that type of value.
If you can get Machado, you get Machado. If you can't, you get someone like Moustakas.