3 after-effects of Kinsler's move to San Diego

December 15th, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- The Winter Meetings bore fruit for the Padres after all.
A day after general manager A.J. Preller left Las Vegas without a Major League transaction, the Padres came to a two-year agreement with second baseman , and on Thursday finalized the $8 million pact, which includes a club option for a third season.
It's the first transaction this offseason that will definitively impact the 2019 club. (The signing and a few minor moves don't qualify.)
Kinsler's coming off a Gold Glove Award-winning season at second base, but he struggled offensively with a .681 OPS -- down more than 100 points from his career average. He's going to play a key role in the 2019 infield, and that's going to impact the rest of Preller's roster plans.

With that in mind, here's a look at three ways the Kinsler signing affects the rest of the club:
1. isn't just a second baseman
Team sources made it abundantly clear that the addition of Kinsler doesn't mean anything for the long-term trajectory of Urias, the presumed second baseman of the future. Still, Kinsler's presence could certainly impact San Diego's short-term plans for the 21-year-old middle-infielder, the Padres' No. 4 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
In the Minors, Urias split time relatively evenly between second and short. When top prospect arrives, Urias is destined for second base. But for now, he's the clear favorite to open the season at shortstop with Kinsler at second, while the team looks to add another third-base candidate to the mix.

That plan isn't set in stone. Kinsler is going to get reps at third in Spring Training, and Urias will obviously continue to work at second. Still, scouts view Urias as a capable defender at short, and as things stand he's clearly the top option there -- until Tatis arrives, at least.
2. probably isn't coming back
The Padres loved the consistency they got from Galvis in 2018, and they were very interested in a potential reunion at the start of the offseason. But it might be time to write Galvis off as an option for the future.
According to team sources, the Kinsler signing makes Galvis' return far less likely -- though not impossible. San Diego feels as though it has found an answer to its shortstop questions, with Urias serving as the bridge to Tatis.
Galvis' return is still a possibility. When Tatis arrives, Galvis and Kinsler could form something of a platoon, with Tatis and Urias playing nearly every day. (Tatis is more than capable of playing third base on the days Galvis is at short.) But Galvis' asking price might be too high, especially with shortstop no longer a necessity. It seems much likelier that San Diego tries to add a third baseman or a shortstop/third-base hybrid.

3. 's days are numbered
As things stand, the second baseman Pirela is probably the odd man out on the 40-man roster. After a solid 2017 campaign, Pirela thoroughly struggled in 2018. The Padres stuck with him for nearly 500 plate appearances at the expense of playing time for some younger hitters. Pirela never rewarded them for their faith, finishing with a negative WAR and a .645 OPS.
When the Kinsler deal is finalized (presumably early this week), Pirela will likely be designated for assignment. If San Diego changes course and opts to keep Pirela, he's probably not long for the roster anyway.

The Padres will go into camp with an infield mix of , Urias, Kinsler, and presumably another addition at third base. Non-roster guys like Tatis, Esteban Quiroz and Jason Vosler will also get a chance, and it's still possible slots in at third base. Where does that leave Pirela? Likely off the 40-man roster and possibly on another club altogether.