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Inbox: Will trade impact Yates' future?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers fans' questions
@AJCassavell
February 10, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- There’s plenty to discuss in the last Padres Inbox before pitchers and catchers report to Peoria, Ariz., on Wednesday. San Diego swung a trade with Tampa Bay over the weekend, landing righty strikeout artist Emilio Pagán in exchange for Manuel Margot and catching prospect Logan Driscoll. On

SAN DIEGO -- There’s plenty to discuss in the last Padres Inbox before pitchers and catchers report to Peoria, Ariz., on Wednesday.

San Diego swung a trade with Tampa Bay over the weekend, landing righty strikeout artist Emilio Pagán in exchange for Manuel Margot and catching prospect Logan Driscoll. On the eve of Spring Training, there's a lot to unpack in that deal. So let's get straight to your questions.

Does the addition of an elite relief pitcher (Pagán) mean Kirby Yates is packaged in a trade, considering his age and this being his last season before free agency?
-- Tony

Before the start of the season? That seems very unlikely. The Padres built this bullpen with the 32-year-old Yates as the fulcrum. He's arguably the best reliever in the sport, and he's the guy their plans hinge upon.

That being said, there was talk of an extension for Yates last season, and obviously nothing has come to fruition. Yates is set to report to camp without a contract beyond the 2020 season. He's expressed a desire to remain in San Diego. But the longer he goes without a deal, the louder the questions will get about his future.

If the Padres find themselves in contention at the Trade Deadline, Yates will almost certainly stay put. General manager A.J. Preller has made it clear that the organization is entering win-now mode in 2020. But Yates would clearly fetch a nice haul at the Deadline, and if the Padres aren't in the postseason picture, a trade is possible. (And a bit more palatable, given the elite bullpen they've built around him.)

Who's our center fielder?
-- Alex

I think we can start calling Franchy Cordero a center fielder. If everyone's healthy and everyone's producing to their capabilities, Cordero is probably the one getting the bulk of the reps in center. That being said, he has spent most of the past two seasons on the injured list, and when he's been healthy, he's been dreadful against lefties. Clearly, the Padres need some cover in center.

And they've got some cover -- but it sure raises a few questions defensively. Yes, The Wil Myers Center Field Experiment will live to see 2020. Unless Cordero or Trent Grisham can hit left-handed pitching, Myers is probably going to platoon regularly as a center fielder.

Grisham, of course, is another option if Cordero struggles. If he and Josh Naylor emerge as the starters, it'll be Grisham in center field. But there's another wild card in this mix...

Are Taylor Trammell's chances of being the Opening Day center fielder improved at all with the Margot trade?
-- John O.

I'm not sure how much Trammell's chances improved. But they definitely improved. It's a basic numbers game. Trammell was the Padres' seventh or eighth option with five spots available. Now, he's sixth or seventh -- with a chance to move into that fifth spot with a strong spring and/or an injury to one of the leading contenders.

That said, Trammell's chances of cracking the Opening Day roster still sit below 50 percent. The 22-year-old came on strong during the Double-A playoffs last season, but there's still development ahead him. Barring a huge month, he'll open the season in the Minors.

Are the Padres really going to send Cal Quantrill, Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon all back to the Minors, or should we expect another trade before Opening Day?
-- Kyle

Based on the current roster projection, that trio of pitchers is projected to open the season in the Minors. Know what that current roster projection is worth? Nothing.

As I wrote in the wake of the Pagán trade, the Padres' 13-man pitching staff looks full. But it seems unlikely that all 13 pitchers will make it through camp unscathed. Plus, Quantrill (and to a lesser extent Baez and Morejon) could easily win a rotation spot over Joey Lucchesi with an impressive spring.

The Pagán trade does give the Padres flexibility to develop Baez and Morejon as starters without worrying about their bullpen. As for Quantrill, he's probably the next man up in the rotation and the bullpen if anyone struggles or gets hurt. If he performs this spring, chances are he'll have a roster spot.

Do we start using an opener more this year? There are so many high-upside arms packed in the bullpen. It seems like it'd be a waste to only use them at the end of a game.
-- @SDCatholic

Following Saturday's trade, Preller said the Padres would get "creative" with their pitching plans this season. He hasn't explicitly stated that the Padres would use an opener more frequently. But it sure seems possible.

At least two starters -- Lucchesi and Zach Davies -- are best served pitching twice through an order. Why not knock the first inning (and presumably the toughest hitters) off their to-do list?

Chris Paddack, Garrett Richards and probably Dinelson Lamet are still expected to serve as traditional starters. But the Padres won't place any artificial constraints on the way they handle their pitching staff. Their bullpen is their biggest strength in 2020. So why not get "creative" in using those arms?

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