SAN DIEGO -- There are a number of items on general manager A.J. Preller's agenda with the Winter Meetings set to begin Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and after a quiet couple months, the moves could come quickly over the next couple weeks.
"Everybody has kind of had their time to review trade possibilities and free-agent possibilities," Preller said. "I get the sense that things are going to start to open up, and you'll start to see some activity."
Who they can trade, if necessary
LHP Brad Hand: For more than a year, Hand has been the focal point of trade chatter surrounding the Padres. It speaks volumes that the left-hander -- arguably the best reliever available via trade -- is still in San Diego. Time and again, Preller has proven himself willing to keep Hand if he doesn't feel he has received an adequate offer. That said, Hand, who is under contract through 2019, will surely draw interest at the Winter Meetings.
IF Yangervis Solarte: Realistically, the Padres could deal any of their 2B/3B options, meaning Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje won't be immune to trade chatter either. In fact, in the early stages of the offseason, the Padres fielded calls on all three. On the surface, Solarte is likeliest to be moved. He has three years of control remaining on an extremely team-friendly deal. Plus, he's the most proven hitter and the most versatile of the bunch.
Starting pitching: Preller, speaking early this week on a conference call after his three-year extension was announced, said he'd like to enter camp with 10 pitchers competing for rotation spots. The Padres currently have seven, including three coming off major surgeries. Expect Preller to add 2-3 more starters before the offseason ends, and a reunion with Jhoulys Chacin remains possible. That said, the club would like to avoid multiyear contracts for those starters with their talented Double-A rotation approaching big league readiness.
Shortstop: The Padres have inked a one-year shortstop solution in each of the past three offseasons, underwhelming all three times. This year, however, signing a stopgap appears to be the prudent move with No. 4 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. waiting in the wings. Tatis could make an impact as early as 2019, and the Padres would prefer not to block his path. Among notable free agents, Zack Cozart and Alcides Escobar could each provide the defensive upgrade the Padres are looking for.
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Bullpen:Craig Stammen has expressed his desire to return to San Diego, and the feeling is mutual. But it's unclear whether the two sides are on the same page financially. Stammen, who went through a resurgence in 2017 after two injury-riddled seasons, could ask for a two-year deal. The Padres might be willing to meet that price if the second year is discounted. In any case, Preller will be busy scouring the relief market for high-upside arms -- an area in which his staff has had plenty of success recently.
Rule 5 Draft
The holiday season is Rule 5 Draft season in San Diego. Preller has made it one of his calling cards over the past two years. In total, the Padres have made seven Rule 5 selections since 2015, easily the most in the Majors. Last year, the Padres became the first team since at least 2000 to keep three Rule 5 players on their big league roster through an entire season. As a result, youngsters Luis Torrens, Allen Cordoba and Miguel Diaz are now part of the organization for the long haul. Expect Preller to be busy again on Dec. 14.
Big contracts they might unload
The only big contract on the books is that of first baseman William Myers, who signed a six-year, $83 million deal last offseason. Myers struggled a bit in 2017, but it's still highly unlikely the Padres look to deal the 26-year-old slugger. He's an integral part of their vision for the future.
There's plenty of payroll flexibility for the Padres, though it's doubtful they take advantage of it this offseason. Including arbitration projections, the Padres appear to have around $40 million committed to 2018. It's more likely that money is spent in the coming offseasons, as the Padres hope to vault themselves into contention in 2019 and beyond.