Friars turn page after Turner picks Philly

December 6th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres already have a roster full of shortstops. Evidently, they were very open to adding another one.

Ultimately, however, star shortstop Trea Turner opted for a reported deal with Philadelphia on Monday, part of a wild start to the Winter Meetings this week in downtown San Diego.

The Padres had conversations with Turner about the possibility of returning to the team that drafted him. Instead, Turner reportedly agreed to an 11-year, $300 million contract with the Phillies.

Speaking during his Winter Meetings media availability on Monday, Padres general manager A.J. Preller acknowledged his team's interest. Turner is one of the game's premier players, Preller noted. Why wouldn't the Padres have interest?

"We did have conversations with him," Preller said. "He's a unique player. I think from that standpoint, we at least want to entertain that -- somebody that unique on the free agent market. That doesn't happen that often. Ultimately, with him signing up with another club, we hoped maybe that was in the [American] League, honestly."

The fit for Turner in San Diego was always a curious one. The Padres, of course, have and as options at shortstop. (Second baseman is capable of sliding to short, as well.)

But San Diego is still mulling the best positional fit for Tatis, who will return from suspension after missing the first 20 games of the season. Tatis is capable of playing the outfield, even if his stated preference is short. His 2023 position seems largely contingent on where the Padres add this winter. 

If they were to add a shortstop, they could slide Kim to second and Cronenworth to first. It wouldn't be the first time Preller has gotten creative, positionally, to make an offseason acquisition. Plus, this roster -- with a host of versatile defensive weapons -- might be uniquely capable.

“It leads to some creative conversations in the room about where guys are going to play,” Preller said. “… When you have athletes that can play different positions, it at least opens you up to different conversations.”

Preller refused to divulge the nature of his conversations with Turner regarding his potential fit. He also said he hadn't spoken with Kim or Cronenworth about the possibility they might be asked to switch positions.

"When you get to a spot where, ‘Hey, this is going to happen,’ -- or this is something that we feel really strongly could happen -- that's when we look at it and say, 'Hey, we're going to have that conversation,'” Preller said. “We never got to that point in the last few days."

There are, of course, several other high-end shortstop options on the free agent market. To that end, Preller acknowledged that shortstop is not a need. The Padres have more pressing holes at first base, designated hitter and left field. But, this being A.J. Preller, he’s bound to kick the tires on all possibilities.

“We try to look at each situation, each player and see what that fit is,” Preller said. “We've talked about adding another position player. The natural fit is another corner bat. I don't think anything's changed there, really.

“Our roster gives us some different flexibility and some different possibilities, because we have athletic players that can play multiple spots. But I think most of the focus for has been on a corner bat.”

The Padres engaged in talks with first baseman José Abreu before he signed with the Astros last month. Positionally, that’s a more obvious fit. But the first-base and outfield markets aren’t exactly overflowing with sluggers.

In fact, a handful of the top available corner bats were Padres in 2022. , Josh Bell, and all became free agents after the season, leaving San Diego in search of help at first base and left field. Preller noted that the team is still in active conversations with most, if not all, of those players.

“We've had conversation on all our guys here in the last few days,” Preller said. “Getting to the Winter Meetings, some guys get going, start signing, and that leads to everybody getting more realistic and understanding what's out there and what's available. We’ve reached out on everybody, trying to get a sense.

“We have interest in bringing back a large portion of the group that was with us last year.”