Padres set Opening Day roster

April 7th, 2022

PHOENIX -- The Padres finalized their Opening Day roster on Thursday, with top prospect C.J. Abrams included -- and potentially set to play a pivotal role as the team looks to withstand the absence of Fernando Tatis Jr.

Abrams, MLB Pipeline's No. 9 overall prospect, put forth an outstanding spring, in which he batted .324 across 17 games, while showcasing a solid glove and elite wheels. He figures to fall into a timeshare at shortstop with Ha-Seong Kim.

"Playing every day, wherever, playing every other day, it doesn't matter to me," Abrams said last week. "As long as I can help the team win, I'm ready to do it."

Among the other notable inclusions on the Padres' roster are center fielder José Azocar and right-hander Steven Wilson, both of whom will also be making their Major League debuts.

Here's a full breakdown of the Padres' roster, position by position:

Catcher (2): Austin Nola, Jorge Alfaro
With Victor Caratini dealt to Milwaukee on Wednesday, Alfaro's spot on the Opening Day roster became something of a lock. There were questions over whether No. 3 prospect Luis Campusano might crack the roster as a third catcher. But he was optioned to Triple-A El Paso, where he'll see regular playing time.

Nola is slated to handle the bulk of the workload behind the plate. After an injury-riddled 2021 campaign, Nola is fully healthy again. He's the rare combination of a potent bat and a solid defender behind the plate.

Alfaro, meanwhile, skews much heavier toward the bat. He put forth the best spring of any Padre in camp, slashing .417/.462/.1.000 with a team-leading four home runs.

Infield (6): Eric Hosmer, Luke Voit, Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim, Manny Machado, C.J. Abrams
No surprises here. Abrams practically made the Padres' decision for them with his outstanding spring.

In Tatis' absence, the lefty-hitting Abrams and the righty-hitting Kim are expected to platoon at shortstop. It remains unclear what the Padres' long-term plan is for Abrams, who has spent almost all of his time in the middle infield. Cronenworth and Tatis are one of the sport's top double-play duos. But for now, at least, Abrams’ fit as the team’s primary shortstop in a platoon feels like the perfect one, where he can be eased into action in favorable matchups.

A similar timeshare might emerge at first base. Voit is expected to play every day, but he'll serve as designated hitter against righties and slide to first in Hosmer's place against left-handed pitching.

Outfield (5): Wil Myers, Trent Grisham, Jurickson Profar, , 
Azocar's inclusion qualifies as the biggest surprise on the team's 28-man roster. But it's a sensible inclusion. The Padres needed a backup center fielder, and Azocar's wheels could prove extremely useful in a bench role.

Meanwhile, Myers is slated to start in right field, with Grisham in center. That leaves Profar and Beaty vying for time in left -- with the possibility that both could slide to first base or fit into the designated-hitter spot as well.

Starters (5): Yu Darvish, , Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, Nick Martinez
In a rare Opening Day deal, the Padres traded right-hander Chris Paddack to Minnesota on Thursday morning. The rotation had seemingly been set before the move, but that solidified it. Darvish will start the opener, with Manaea, Musgrove, Snell and Martinez expected to follow, in that order.

Mike Clevinger opens the season on the injured list, as he builds back slowly from 2020 Tommy John surgery. After his lone spring start, Clevinger experienced right knee soreness, and the Padres decided to pump the brakes on his progression.

As for top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore, he certainly gave the Padres something to think about. Had they not swung a deal for Manaea in the weekend before the season, it's entirely possible Gore fills that final spot in the rotation. As it stands, he'll open the year at Triple-A.

Relievers (10): Robert Suarez, , Pierce Johnson, Craig Stammen, Tim Hill, Steven Wilson, Austin Adams, Dinelson Lamet, , 
The Padres landed the back-end lefty they were looking for in the Paddack trade on Thursday morning. Rogers posted a 3.15 ERA across parts of six seasons with Minnesota and has recorded a sub-3 FIP in each of the past four seasons. He's immediately in the closer conversation, along with Suarez, whom the Padres signed from Japan during the offseason.

The final three places in the bullpen went to a trio of right-handers in Wilson, Guerra and Crismatt. With Snell built up to four innings in his final spring start, the Padres no longer needed a swing-man/piggyback type arm. Crismatt should be able to provide enough length, if needed.

Guerra was out of options, and the Padres wanted to keep him on board after a strong finish to spring. And with Luis García on the IL while he battles an oblique strain, the Padres promoted Wilson, who was arguably their most dominant reliever in camp, where he posted six scoreless, two-hit innings.