Inbox: Boosting offense a Padres priority

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers fans' questions

October 29th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres will unveil Jayce Tingler as the 21st manager in franchise history on Thursday. So, naturally, you've already turned your attention to the other questions facing the Padres this offseason:

What's the priority roster-wise this offseason? Starting pitching? Outfield? Second base? Catcher?
-- Michael B., Birmingham, England

All of the above. And the Padres probably will add to their bullpen mix, as well (though it clearly ranks fifth on the list of priorities).

Strangely enough, I don't get the sense that starting pitching is the Padres' foremost concern. Yes, general manager A.J. Preller needs to add to the rotation. But the Padres like their internal options. Add one or two starters, and suddenly it's a deep group -- especially if top prospects MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño break through in 2020.

On offense, the fix isn't so simple. Take a look at how the Padres compared to the rest of the league in 2019:

That graph shows a team in need of an overhaul. The Padres were above league average at only one position (two, if you adjust for the fact that moved to shortstop in 's absence in May and early June).

The Padres' biggest priority is offense. And -- whether it's at catcher, second base or in the outfield -- they'll take it anywhere they can get it.

What's Tingler's coaching staff going to look like?
-- Kian A., San Diego

I've gotten at least 10 different versions of this question. All I can say is that it will look different.

The extent of the coaching overhaul under Tingler remains unclear. But the Padres have been looking into external candidates for a number of positions on staff. Now that Tingler's on board, it's a collaborative process between him and Preller.

There will be some carryover from the previous regime, but a shakeup still seems likely. Given Tingler's lack of experience, it's reasonable to expect the Padres to look for a more seasoned hand at bench coach or even pitching coach.

Yes, pitching coach. One takeaway from the early stages of the Padres' coaching search: Sources have indicated that Darren Balsley might not return for an 18th season. Balsley is still in the mix, but the Padres are evaluating other options, too. Tingler's coaching staff should be finalized in early November.

Will the Padres hold onto their once-top guys to allow Tingler to try to fix them with his development pedigree (Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot)? Or will they simply be looking to move on and up?
-- Steve B., Vista, Calif.

Clearly, the Padres love Tingler's player development pedigree. It's one of the foremost reasons they hired him. But that doesn't mean they expect him to walk into San Diego and turn platoon players into All-Stars. Flawed players are flawed players. Generally speaking, it's up to those players to get better, not the manager to make them better.

So, yes, the Padres are still expecting a roster shakeup. Hedges and Myers are two obvious trade candidates. Margot and Renfroe less so, but they're still options to be moved. The Padres need a better offense, and they will explore a number of different avenues on the trade market -- regardless of their managerial choice.

As far as Tingler's development background, his hire means more for the younger, unproven group of players. (We already know plenty about Myers and Hedges, etc.) The Padres need more from , and , among others. Perhaps Tingler can help make them comfortable in the big leagues and extract their potential.

Is there a realistic chance the Padres sign two big-name starters?
-- Evan

Depends how you define a "big-name" starter. The two biggest names on the market are, obviously, and (provided Strasburg opts out of his contract with the Nationals). They're two of the 10 best pitchers in baseball. Maybe top five.

The Padres won't sign both. Odds are, they won't sign one. But, hey, it's possible. They need a frontline starter, and if isn't available, the trade market isn't all that enticing.

After those two, there's another tier of free-agent pitchers – such big names as , and . The Padres’ rotation suddenly would look pretty stable if they could pair one of those veteran options with a frontline arm acquired via trade or free agency.