Inbox: Is Urías a lock at 2B in 2020 for Padres?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from fans

October 22nd, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- A.J. Preller’s important offseason decisions will not end when he picks his new manager. The Padres' GM must still address a roster filled with question marks on both sides of the ball.

With that in mind, this week's Padres Inbox touches on the manager search. But it also tackles a few of the other prominent questions awaiting Preller this offseason.

Are the Padres married to the idea of Luis Urías as their second baseman of the present and future? Or can a veteran acquisition or a prospect -- like Xavier Edwards or Gabriel Arias -- take that spot?
-- Sergio Q., Tijuana, Mexico

No, the Padres aren't married to Urías at second base. Maybe a year from now they will be. But in the present, there's no sense tying yourself to a player who has hit .221 with a .649 OPS through 83 career games -- no matter what the upside once was.

That isn't to say the Padres no longer believe in the 22-year-old Urías. There's a good chance they give him the inside track at the starting job entering next season. But it won't be handed to Urías; he'll have to win it.

There's also a good chance the Padres will shop Urías this offseason. It's good business sense to learn what your assets are worth, after all. And if another team is willing to pony up for him, maybe the Padres will entertain a trade. They have plenty of needs elsewhere. (But if he's moved, yes, the Padres will have a vacancy to address at second base.)

Will the next manager's priority be to get the young players playing Major League-caliber baseball or to get Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer back to themselves?
-- David, San Diego

Definitely not an either/or proposition. The Padres entered their search for a new manager with two key goals:

  1. Get more out of their underperforming stars
  1. Develop their young talent into successful big leaguers

Neither factor plays more heavily in the decision. Simply put, the new manager needs to do both if the Padres are going to push for contention in 2020.

Given the wealth of young talent in the system and the upside of players like Machado and Hosmer, if the next skipper can accomplish those two things, it's fair to expect a sizable jump in the wins column.

What is the likelihood that the pitchers in the starting rotation and catcher Austin Hedges are trade candidates?
-- Dave

Trade candidates? One hundred percent. Aside from Chris Paddack and presumably Garrett Richards, the Padres are open to trading any of their rotation options. That includes Joey Lucchesi, Dinelson Lamet, Eric Lauer and Cal Quantrill. It also includes prospects Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez, who earned late-season callups.

There's a lot of upside in that group -- and a lot of team control remaining on all six. But the Padres have needs to address at the front of the rotation and in the outfield. Those pitchers are all enticing trade pieces, to different extents.

As for Hedges, he's been a potential trade piece for a while now. Make no mistake, Hedges' defense is elite, giving him some value. But coming off a season in which he batted .176/.252/.311, it's hard to envision Hedges as anything other than Francisco Mejía’s backup next spring. Sure, Hedges would be a useful backup. But if the Padres can get value in return for him, they have the organizational depth to make up for his departure.

[Executive chairman] Ron Fowler mentioned needing a left-handed-hitting outfielder. Is it safe to assume Franchy Cordero fits that category if he's given a clean bill of health?
-- John M., Vista

Yes, Cordero is a left-handed-hitting outfielder. But when Fowler made those comments, he was doing so with an eye on adding another one -- or maybe two. Cordero's a high-upside piece. But injuries have limited him to 49 games in the past two seasons.

The Padres' splits are too pronounced for them to stand pat. San Diego outfielders batted .254/.343/.460 against lefties, compared to .230/.297/.427 against right-handers. A healthy Cordero could make an impact. But he wouldn't close that big a gap.

That said, multiple people in the organization have reiterated that the Padres aren't tying their fate to a lefty-hitting outfielder this winter. The Padres just want good hitters. If that's a righty who hits against pitchers from both sides, that works, too.