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What will SD's Opening Day roster look like?

@AJCassavell
January 14, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' roster overhaul isn't complete yet. But it's still a notably different squad from the one that finished the 2019 season with a disappointing last-place finish. General manager A.J. Preller has already made a series of trades and signings to address deficiencies at second base, in

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' roster overhaul isn't complete yet. But it's still a notably different squad from the one that finished the 2019 season with a disappointing last-place finish.

General manager A.J. Preller has already made a series of trades and signings to address deficiencies at second base, in the outfield and on the pitching staff.

Taking those moves into account, here's an early look at the 2020 Opening Day roster, with the projections based on the group of players under contract. As a reminder, rosters expand to include 26 players next season.

Catcher
Locks: Francisco Mejía, Austin Hedges
Possibilities: Luis Torrens, free agent/trade

The Padres will keep an eye out for upgrades behind the plate. But if they enter the season with a timeshare between Mejía and Hedges, they'd be just fine with that. Hedges is one of the best defenders in the sport -- at any position. And Mejía's bat brings plenty of upside, too. San Diego is still looking to find the right balance between the two (probably something like a 60-40 split, with Mejía getting the bulk of the reps).

First base
Lock: Eric Hosmer
Possibilities: Ty France, Wil Myers

Hosmer is locked in as the Padres' first baseman for six more years. But he's begun his tenure in San Diego with two subpar seasons, and there are serious questions surrounding his ability to hit vs. left-handers. Since his arrival, Hosmer is hitting just .201/.256/.301 against lefties, and if those numbers don't improve, it's worth wondering whether the Padres would platoon Hosmer with a righty like France or Myers.

Second base
Lock: Jurickson Profar
Possibilities: Greg Garcia, Esteban Quiroz, Owen Miller, France, Jake Cronenworth, trade/free agent

The Padres landed Profar in an early-December deal that sent lefty-hitting catcher Austin Allen to Oakland. But they acquired Profar as a second-base option. Not the second-base option. Garcia will get a shot at playing time, but he's probably destined for a utility role once again. A handful of prospects might see time at second this spring, too. But Preller is still mulling his options on the trade and free-agent markets (even though those options are seemingly thin).

Shortstop
Lock: Fernando Tatis Jr.
Possibilities: Profar, Cronenworth

The Padres spent a decade in search of a viable option at shortstop. They finally found one in 2019. And they're certainly in better shape entering this decade. In his breakout rookie season, Fernando Tatis Jr. batted .317/.379/.590. He dazzled on the bases and showed some serious defensive upside, too. A lower-back injury cut Tatis' season short. But if he's healthy, he's already one of the game's most exciting players.

Third base
Lock: Manny Machado
Possibilities: France

There are still question marks all over the Padres' roster, but they've sure cleaned things up on the left side in the past year. Machado and Tatis should partner to anchor third and short, respectively, for a long time in San Diego.

Outfield
Locks: Tommy Pham, Myers
Possibilities: Trent Grisham, Manuel Margot, Josh Naylor, Franchy Cordero, free agent/trade

The Padres entered the offseason without a reliable everyday outfielder on their roster. But they addressed that hole quickly, landing Pham in a December trade with Tampa Bay. Pham's elite on-base skills should help fix one of the biggest deficiencies on San Diego's offense. But there are still question marks at the other two outfield spots. Right now, a pair of platoons are likely, but it's still possible Preller lands another slugging outfielder in a trade.

Starting pitchers
Locks: Chris Paddack, Garrett Richards
Possibilities: Zach Davies, Dinelson Lamet, Joey Lucchesi, Cal Quantrill, Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Ronald Bolaños, MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño, Nick Margevicius, free agents/trades

When the offseason began, the Padres seemed like major players in the starting-pitching market. But thus far, they've only managed to swap Davies for Eric Lauer -- a marginal upgrade at the back of the rotation. Preller seems content to enter next season without a frontline addition. (He clearly believes strongly in pitching prospects Gore and Patiño.) It's possible San Diego adds another depth option this offseason. But the club clearly won't overpay for a long-term rotation addition if it takes away opportunity from its young starters.

Relievers
Locks: Kirby Yates, Drew Pomeranz, Andres Munoz, Craig Stammen, Matt Strahm, José Castillo
Possibilities: Javy Guerra, Luis Perdomo, David Bednar, Morejon, Baez, Gerardo Reyes, Trey Wingenter, Kyle Barraclough, Jimmy Yacabonis, Pierce Johnson, Chih-Wei Hu, Miguel Diaz, free agents/trades

The Padres might end up without a major rotation acquisition this offseason, but they're trying to make up for it by building one of baseball's best bullpens. Yates sits at the back end as arguably the sport's best closer. Pomeranz, Stammen, Muñoz, Strahm and Castillo will serve in the primary setup roles. San Diego also boasts a number of high-upside young arms in the organization (like Baez and Morejon, who will get a crack at the rotation but seem like better bets for the 'pen). It's a deep unit with a lot of big-time arms. And that's the point. If the bullpen can shorten games, the burden on a young rotation will be lessened significantly.

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