Ramirez, Rodney highlight Padres' new faces

Shortstop, reliever bring plenty of experience to club

February 11th, 2016

SAN DIEGO -- New guys? Yep, the Padres have a few of those this time, although maybe not as many as they did a year ago after general manager A.J. Preller had his winter spending and trading spree.

With the beginning of Spring Training around the corner, MLB.com will preview the Padres by taking a glance at several areas of note heading toward the report date for pitchers and catchers Feb. 18.

Spring Training preview Part I: Myers, Kemp and Cashner look to rebound

Today, we take a look at the "New Guys" who have a shot of cracking the Padres' 25-man roster:

RP Buddy Baumann: The Padres signed the left-hander to a one-year deal and he'll look to make the team as someone who can spot start or, more likely, pitch in relief. He was excellent against lefties in 2015 for Triple-A Omaha (1.97 ERA) with 16 hits allowed in 32 innings against southpaws.

RP Ryan Buchter: Originally signed in January to a Minor League deal, the Padres added Buchter to the 40-man roster when he received interest elsewhere. Like Baumann, he's a lefty, and he didn't allow a run in 12 innings against left-handed hitters last season while pitching at two Triple-A stops.

RP Josh Martin: One of four Rule 5 players who will try to win a job on the Opening Day roster, Martin has a big arm and had a 2.27 ERA in 67 1/3 innings last season with Double-A Akron (Indians). Martin has a power arm (80 strikeouts) and could be a nice fit as part of the bullpen. Still, he hasn't pitched above Double-A.

SP/RP Luis Perdomo: Perdomo, who won't turn 23 until May, was left off the Cardinals' protected list for no other reason than they had so many talented prospects to protect. He pitched in the All-Star Futures Game last July and tantalized with a mid-90s fastball. There's a lot of upside here, but it might be hard to stash him on the 25-man roster all season.

RP Fernando Rodney: Even though Rodney was released by the Mariners last season, the Padres don't think he's finished by any means. The velocity on his fastball is still good and his changeup still dances. The Padres rave about his work ethic and think he's hungry to reclaim his spot among elite relievers. But he better hurry, he'll be 39 in March and he's older than his manager, Andy Green.

RP Blake Smith: Another Rule 5 addition, Smith was a teammate of current Padres pitcher Tyson Ross at Cal. Smith has a 4.03 career ERA, but had a strong 2015, striking out 64 in 53 innings in three Minor League stops. Again, like with Martin, the Padres are hoping one of these controllable power arms sticks.

RP Cesar Vargas: Vargas, who turned 24 in December, got a big league deal from the Padres even though he's never pitched in the Major Leagues. He struck out 76 in 73 innings last season in the Yankees' system and continued to pitch well during the winter in the Mexican Pacific League. The Padres feel his cutter can neutralize both righties and lefties.

SP/RP Carlos Villanueva: The 32-year-old Villanueva had a career revival of sorts in 2015 with the Cardinals, pitching in relief. He posted a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings. The Padres like his versatility and will initially look at him as a starter in Spring Training, as they can always slide him back to the relief corps.

C Christian Bethancourt: Barring any changes, the Padres head to Spring Training with three catchers who could make the roster. They will only keep two, which means Bethancourt, a former Braves prospect, could be a guy who pushes Austin Hedges for the backup job. Bethancourt does not have any Minor League options, but Hedges does.

UT Jose Pirela: Pirela comes to the Padres from the Yankees, though his game might set up better in the National League as a bench player, because he can play the outfield and second base. His defense, particularly at second base, wasn't good in 2015. He could start there against tough lefties, though, as he hit .367 in 51 at-bats against lefties in the big leagues. He can play third base, too.

SS Alexei Ramirez: The Padres have finally found a shortstop, and while the 34-year-old certainly isn't the long-term answer there, but the team shouldn't have to worry about his durability. Ramirez has played in at least 154 games in each of the past six seasons. Ramirez will give the team more offense at that position since Khalil Greene manned it.

OF Jabari Blash: Now this guy is intriguing. Blash, 26, is a Rule 5 player who comes to the organization with legitimate power (109 home runs in parts of six Minor League seasons). He also strikes out a ton (123 strikeouts in 406 at-bats a year ago). He can play the corner outfield spots. He just has to make the team and find some at-bats and show he can handle big league pitching in sporadic playing time.

OF Jon Jay: Looking to add a left-handed bat to their right-handed-heavy lineup, the Padres traded for Jay, who can play left and center and also does it with above-average defense. Jay was a nice fit because this is the last year on his deal and the Padres feel prospect Hunter Renfroe might not be too far off. As for Jay, he was limited to 79 games last season with a wrist injury. But he's healthy now and should help give the lineup a little more balance.

UT Skip Schumaker: Schumaker recently signed a Minor League deal with the Padres and will face competition in order to win a reserve role. He's 36, but is coming off a season where he led the Majors in pinch-hits (19). He can play second base and the outfield and is a good clubhouse guy who has won a World Series ring (Cardinals, 2011). The Padres feel there's value in that.