With Spring Training on the horizon, MLB.com is taking an in-depth look at the 2018 Padres, breaking the team down position-by-position. Today, we preview San Diego's second basemen.Around the Horn series:Catcher | First baseSAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte may be gone -- dealt to Toronto on Jan. 6 for a
With Spring Training on the horizon, MLB.com is taking an in-depth look at the 2018 Padres, breaking the team down position-by-position. Today, we preview San Diego's second basemen.
Around the Horn series:Catcher | First base
SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte may be gone -- dealt to Toronto on Jan. 6 for a pair of prospects -- but his departure did little to clarify things at second base for the Padres in 2018.
There's still a logjam in the infield with Chase Headley, Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje likely to fight for at-bats between second and third base. There are still questions about when prospect Luis Urias might arrive. And there are still questions about the possibility another infielder is traded -- and how that could further shake up the roster.
As it stands, Asuaje is the club's only primary second baseman. But Spangenberg has spent plenty of time at the position in the past, and Headley's arrival might foreshadow a move back to second base for Spangenberg. At the very least, it seems likely he splits time between second and third.
"It's going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds," Padres skipper Andy Green said last month. "I think we're trying to create a culture of belief in our players, but also a culture of competition, guys pushing each other to be great. ... It's a muddy picture trying to figure out how our roster fits together. But I think where we're at is: Bring in as much talent as you possibly can, and we'll sort it out."
As a rookie, Asuaje did his best to stake a claim to the spot in 2017. He batted .270/.334/.362 and showcased significant defensive improvement.
Asuaje would benefit from adding more extra-base hits to his game, but he's one of the Padres' toughest outs, constantly working counts and frustrating opposing pitchers.
He'll be pushed for playing time by Spangenberg (and, indirectly, by Headley). Spangenberg played only seven games at second in 2017, but he's played 93 games there in his career.
Spangenberg's clearest path to regular at-bats could see him splitting time at second, third and even left field. He's no stranger to spring position battles, having spent each of the past three years fighting for a starting spot in camp.
"If you run away from competition, you're probably not going to be in the big leagues in the first place," Spangenberg said. "It's something I've had every year. It's a lot of fun to compete with good teammates."
It's too early to guess who serves as Opening Day second baseman on March 29 against Milwaukee. Trade rumors will continue to swirl around Headley for the next two months, and if he's dealt, that would seemingly clear a path for Asuaje. Otherwise, a fierce spring position battle will ensue.
Don't count out Urias, the club's No. 3 prospect, especially if Headley is dealt. Following the Solarte trade, there's no obvious backup for Freddy Galvis at shortstop. Urias could be that solution, while seeing most of his playing time at second base.
Projected starter: Asuaje
Potential backups: Spangenberg, Urias
Top 30 prospects: No. 3 Urias, No. 18 Luis Almanzar, No. 29 Eguy Rosario, No. 30 Esteury Ruiz
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.