PEORIA, Ariz. -- Over the past few months, executive chairman Ron Fowler has made clear his excitement for the Padres' future. And his actions have spoken louder than his words, given the club's unprededented investments on the amateur and international market.
Of course, Fowler -- who addressed the Padres before their first full-squad workout on Saturday -- is also quite eager to find out what the current season holds in store.
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"I think we're going to have some fun," Fowler said. "It's all about playing hard, developing. If I had to use a term, this is a season of development for a lot of players on this team."
Over the past year, the Padres have made a significant commitment to their farm system, spending north of $80 million on amateur talent in the Draft and internationally. They also dealt a number of high-priced veterans for young talent.
San Diego won't reap the rewards of that investment for a few years, however. Top pitching prospects Anderson Espinoza, Cal Quantrill and Adrian Morejon -- acquired in the past year via trade, Draft and international signing, respectively -- won't make an impact until 2019 at the earliest.
"I'm fairly patient when there's a plan I'm comfortable with," Fowler said. "[Managing Partner] Peter Seidler and I have sat down with the baseball ops people, from [general manager] A.J. [Preller] through the entire organization. We like what they're doing. We understand what they're doing, and we're going to be very supportive of what they're doing. If that means biting my lip for a while, I'll bite my lip for a while."
Fowler said he foresees the Padres' Opening Day payroll sitting just below $75 million this season. Over the next two years, the club won't be able to spend much internationally because it blew past its pool allotment in 2016. But Fowler noted that there are other places to invest.
"We'll redeploy the money," Fowler said. "We'll have a larger pool of money to spend on the domestic signings, and we'll make the moves that we think we need to make to improve the team."
Padres add Kuo on Minors deal
The Padres have signed free-agent reliever Hung-Chih Kuo to a Minor League deal. The veteran left-hander hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2011.
In seven seasons, all with the Dodgers, Kuo posted a 3.73 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He became the first Taiwanese pitcher to appear in the All-Star Game when he did so in 2010.
Kuo spent the past four years pitching in his native Taiwan, though he was significantly limited by injuries. He's expected to report to camp next week.
Bullpen race comes into focus
Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter, Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps are slated to open the season in the big league bullpen, Padres manager Andy Green said.
"Barring some unforeseen set of circumstances, I'd expect those four guys to pitch at the back end," Green said. "The rest of the guys, they're going to have to fight and scratch and claw to earn those spots. But at the end of it all, what we're going to have is more depth in those positions than we had last year."
With four spots locked in, the Padres have about 10 hurlers competing for the final three or four places in the 'pen.