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Key decisions, dates: Padres offseason FAQ

@AJCassavell
October 15, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- Coming off their first postseason appearance in 14 years and their first playoff series victory in 22, a busy winter awaits the Padres. "That's in all of our minds when we get to the offseason -- our work here is not done," said general manager A.J. Preller.

SAN DIEGO -- Coming off their first postseason appearance in 14 years and their first playoff series victory in 22, a busy winter awaits the Padres.

"That's in all of our minds when we get to the offseason -- our work here is not done," said general manager A.J. Preller. "That feeling from winning a playoff series, everybody enjoyed that. But that made everybody hungry."

Preller: Lamet, Clevinger won't need surgery

Preller has some important decisions to make this offseason. Here's a quick rundown of this winter's key dates and looming roster decisions:

Which players are free agents?
The Padres built their roster to contend for several seasons, and as such, they're expecting minimal free-agent turnover.

In the bullpen, closers Kirby Yates and Trevor Rosenthal are ticketed for free agency. Garrett Richards, a career starter who transitioned to the bullpen in September, will hit the open market, too. Offensively, catcher Jason Castro and utility man Jurickson Profar are free agents as well.

Which players have options?
First baseman Mitch Moreland has a team option for one year and $3 million. Even if Moreland serves exclusively as a bench bat, that seems like a fair price. It's worth wondering whether the presence of a designated hitter in the National League for 2021 would impact the team's thinking. The Padres need to make a decision within five days of the final game of the World Series.

When are players removed from the injured list?
Five days after the conclusion of the World Series, the 2020 IL goes by the wayside. That means José Castillo, Anderson Espinoza and Trey Wingenter will return to the 40-man roster. But with more than three players slated for free agency, the Padres won’t need to reshuffle their roster to make room.

Which players are eligible for salary arbitration?
The Padres have nine players eligible for salary arbitration this winter. They will negotiate a 2021 salary with those players. But if the two sides can’t come to an agreement, both the club and the player would submit a salary figure to an independent arbiter, who would choose between the two numbers.

Here's the full list, broken down by the number of arbitration years remaining for each player before they hit free agency:

Final year of arbitration: RHP Zach Davies, IF Greg Garcia, OF Tommy Pham
Two more years of arbitration: RHP Mike Clevinger, LHP Matt Strahm, RHP Luis Perdomo
Three more years of arbitration: RHP Dinelson Lamet, RHP Emilio Pagán, RHP Dan Altavilla

When do prospects need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft, and which need to be?
The Padres must reset their 40-man roster to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft by Nov. 20. The Rule 5 Draft itself will take place in December. The Padres took care of some of this business by dealing eligible prospects Jeisson Rosario, Hudson Potts and Gabriel Arias at the Trade Deadline.

They'll still be very busy come mid-November. Among the Padres' Top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, these players must be protected: IF Tucupita Marcano (No. 8 prospect), RHP Reggie Lawson (No. 10), OF Tirso Ornelas (No. 17), IF Esteury Ruiz (No. 19), RHP Lake Bachar (No. 23), IF Eguy Rosario (No. 28), IF Jordy Barley (No. 29).

Any prospects left unprotected will be eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. If they're selected, they must remain on the Major League roster for the entire 2021 season or be offered back to the Padres.

When is the tender deadline, and who is a non-tender candidate?
The deadline to give players a contract for next season, often referred to as the “non-tender deadline,” is scheduled for Dec. 2.

The Padres don't have many non-tender candidates. But Garcia ($1.5 million in 2020) and Perdomo ($950,000) would be due raises. San Diego will consider their status. Javy Guerra's case is also interesting, because he's out of options and he struggled in his first full big league season, posting a 10.13 ERA in 14 appearances.

That said, the Padres almost certainly won't wait for the non-tender deadline to make those decisions. If they cut any players, they'd presumably do so by Nov. 20 in order to add Rule 5-eligible prospects to their 40-man roster.

Are the Padres interested in contract extensions for any players?
Yes, a potentially big one: Fernando Tatis Jr. Preller noted that there's "interest on both sides." But considering Tatis' standing as one of the sport's most exciting young players, he won't come cheap. Tatis is under team control through the 2024 season.

'Interest on both sides' for Tatis extension

What are they looking for in trades and free agency?
"We feel like we have a pretty complete, competitive club," Preller said. "Every year you're going to look to improve and going to look to try to continue to add. We understand the ultimate goal is to win the World Series. I don't think there's a glaring area that we go into this thing [looking for]. It's still adding the right kind of people to the group and the team."

Last winter, the Padres' needs were massive. But they found long-term answers at second base and center field in Jake Cronenworth and Trent Grisham, respectively. Then, at the Trade Deadline, they added a frontline ace and a starting catcher -- Clevinger and Austin Nola, respectively.

This year the most obvious needs are seemingly on the pitching side of things. They'll look to bring in bullpen arms and possibly some rotation depth.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.