SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' youth movement, which recently turned a depleted farm system into the best in baseball, made a dent into the big league roster on Tuesday afternoon.
General manager A.J. Preller needed to clear space for seven prospects to be added to the 40-man roster, lest they be exposed to next month's Rule 5 Draft. He got creative in doing so, parting with a handful of veterans.
The Padres traded a trio of right-handers on Tuesday and designated four players for assignment, including Christian Villanueva and Cory Spangenberg.
• Villanueva DFA'd, could move to Japan
They did so in order for the following seven prospects to be added to the 40-man roster:
• RHP Chris Paddack (Padres' No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline)
• RHP Anderson Espinoza (No. 12)
• C Austin Allen (No. 25)
• OF Edward Olivares (No. 28)
• RHP Pedro Avila (No. 29)
• 3B Ty France (unranked)
• RHP Gerardo Reyes (unranked)
None of those players were particularly surprising additions. Their status on the 40-man means they won't be eligible to be picked in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 13 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, where longtime Minor Leaguers can be selected by other clubs but must remain on the big league roster all season or be offered back to their original team.
The five top-30 prospects listed above were always likely to be added to the roster. All five would've been projected as early Rule 5 selections if they were left exposed.
France and Reyes, too, would've been candidates to be taken. France hit 22 homers last season between Double-A and Triple-A, and he could compete for the job at third base after Villanueva's departure. Reyes, meanwhile, posted a 2.77 ERA and a 29-percent strikeout rate last year and could've easily been stashed in a rival's bullpen if left unprotected.
"There was a real chance he'd get taken if we left him unprotected," Preller said. "You don't want to see that kind of stuff, that kind of velo, from a guy with a lower slot, leave. He keeps getting more consistent. He was a guy we didn't want to risk losing in a Rule 5 situation."
Among the Padres prospects who will be available in next month's Rule 5 Draft are righties Hansel Rodriguez and Trevor Megill and outfielder Michael Gettys. Rodriguez, who was acquired for Melvin Upton Jr. in 2016, was recently shut down in the Arizona Fall League due to olecranon stress reaction issues in his elbow, though the club doesn't believe surgery will be required.
As for the seven players subtracted from the 40-man, here's a look at the moves Preller made to clear some space:
Right-hander Colten Brewer traded to Boston for infielder Esteban Quiroz
Brewer found himself on the roster bubble in a crowded Padres bullpen. He might have cracked the 40-man if not for the trade. But the Padres like what they're getting in Quiroz, so they decided to deal Brewer, a high-spin right-hander who posted a 5.59 ERA in 11 big league appearances last year. Quiroz, a utility infielder, spent most of his career playing in Mexico, but he posted a .283/.406/.547 slash line in the Red Sox system last year, mostly at Double-A.
"He just hits," Preller said. "He hits everywhere he's been. We had a lot of eyes on him in the Fall League, a lot of people that saw him there. He was a guy that's continued to perform, and it's hard to find left-handed bats at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues that can take a walk and do damage."
Right-hander Walker Lockett traded to Cleveland for right-hander Ignacio Feliz
Lockett was always a likely casualty of the roster crunch, and the Padres were pleased with their return for the 24-year-old right-hander. Feliz made 10 starts for the Indians in the Arizona Rookie League, and the 19-year-old posted a 3.00 ERA.
"It's a good arm at the lower levels of the Minor Leagues," Preller said. "We felt like he was a really good get, and he's another guy who we have time in our system to develop and grow and give him a chance to perform."
Lockett spent most of last season at Triple-A El Paso, but he made four big league appearances and allowed 16 runs in 15 innings.
Right-hander Rowan Wick traded to the Cubs for infielder Jason Vosler
Wick, like Brewer, had a case to remain on the 40-man if he weren't dealt. But the Padres landed a high-upside infielder in Vosler, who slugged 23 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in the Cubs' system last year. He batted .251/.340/.467, while playing first, second and third base, and he'll go into camp with a chance to compete for a utility role on the Opening Day roster.
Wick, meanwhile, posted a 6.48 ERA over 10 appearances in his big league-debut season in 2018.
3B Villanueva, IF Spangenberg, RHP Colin Rea and SS Allen Cordoba designated for assignment
Rea and Cordoba hardly qualify as surprises. Both dealt with serious injury issues in 2018. Cordoba, a former Rule 5 selection himself, missed the first half of the year with a concussion, and when he returned, he didn't play a game above Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. Rea, meanwhile, hasn't been the same since his '16 Tommy John surgery, and he posted a 5.73 ERA in the Minors this year.
As for Villanueva, he appears destined for Japan. The Padres intend to sell his contract rights to a team in Japan, likely the Yomiuri Giants, according to sources. That move opens the Padres' third-base job even more. At this point, it's a near certainty they add another infielder this offseason.
Meanwhile, Spangenberg was due a raise in his second year of arbitration. In all likelihood, that was the driving force behind the Padres' decision to cut ties with him and not fellow infielders Carlos Asuaje and Jose Pirela. Preller, however, refuted that notion.
"We feel like we have other options and other possibilities that fit a little bit better, some younger players we're going to give opportunity to," Preller said. "He gets a fresh start and a chance to go outside and do something different. From a numbers standpoint, we just felt like we had other options we felt were better fits for our ballclub and our roster setup. It was a tough decision."
Spangenberg, the Padres' first-round Draft selection in 2011, batted .258/.318/.391 in five seasons with the club. But his on-base percentage dipped below .300 in '18, and there wasn't going to be much playing time available in '19 with infield prospects Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. eventually in the mix.
On the whole, the seven additions and subtractions mean the club's 40-man roster remains full. Further trades or signings of big league players would require other players be removed from the roster.