After Missing on Betts, What’s San Diego’s Plan B?

After Missing on Betts, What’s San Diego’s Plan B?

by February 14, 2020 0 comments

The Padres missed out on adding Mookie Betts — a consensus top-five player in Major League Baseball –– but it begs the question: could the Friars pivot to a backup plan without dealing their most coveted blue-chip prospects?

The Padres could try and get Kris Bryant, whom they’ve had an interest in; he has two more years of team control. He would certainly be a very good consolation prize to Betts; as most evaluators believe Bryant can play (at least) an above-average corner outfield.

Fransisco Lindor seems less likely, as that would necessitate a move of the Padres’ current shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr. Additionally, A.J. Preller shot down that idea the first couple days opening Spring Training camp, to various San Diego media outlets of the idea that Tatis could move to the outfield. 

In other words, he’s not moving to center-field unless it is for someone like Lindor, and already two-time Gold Glover superstar. Both Bryant and Lindor might be unlikely given their rumored absurd price tags and proximity to Opening Day.

Here’s an educated guess at a handful of players who could be expendable, wouldn’t necessarily cost a bounty as the most coveted prospects, that could be available before opening day.

Mike Tauchman OF

Tauchman could be expendable given the Yankees’ depth and star-studded roster. The 29-year-old ranked top 10 defensively in outs above average (OAA). Moreover, he has a long track record in the minors for getting on base — and further solidified that by hitting .277/.361/.504 with a .865 OPS, in addition to belting 13 home runs and 18 doubles in only 260 at-bats. 

Furthermore, he has above average sprint speed — something the Friars are emphasizing. If the Padres are looking for a quality second-tier bat under team control, cost-effective, that can play all three outfield positions, he could fit well. 

Brian Anderson 3B/OF

 Anderson has always intrigued me since his rookie campaign. He has a knack for barreling balls, which is indicative of his elite hard-hit percentage, along with being a professional at-bat. He possesses above-average speed, despite coming up as a third baseman, and has versatility, paired with quality advanced metrics in the outfield — which could suggest that might be the most advantageous position long-term. He hit .261 with a .342 OBP, 20 homers and an .811 OPS, despite playing in Miami, with zero protection, and in a hitters graveyard. Is it possible that yet another player the Marlins trade could go on to having career years after Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, and J.T. Realmuto?

Moreover, Anderson’s max exit velocity was 34th in MLB (114.4) and could indicate a strong push to tap into more power, especially away from one of the hardest hitting parks in baseball for homers. Anderson, still 25, so the Marlins may not want to deal him as one of the more productive controllable position players — but they’re rebuilding and wouldn’t be hard to imagine seeing them selling high to bolster an already improved farm system. Another player with reverse splits as a righty, but alongside his hitting ability and youth, it’s not unfathomable to see him mature given his strengths.

Ian Happ INF/OF

Happ, a former top prospect has struggled with consistency that led to a demotion. But he took that in stride and used it to fuel his maturation and growth as a player. That was evident upon his return to MLB after his stint in the minors where he made some adjustments. Happ, now 26, possess well above-average speed, strong exit velocities (especially batting left-handed as a switch hitter), and has not only shown to be a valuable defender in the outfield but also versatile all over the diamond. Coming up as a second baseman blocked by Javier Baez and Addison Russell, he saw time all over.

He slashed .264/.333/.564 with a .898 OPS while showing a well-above-average defense in center field, and second base, while also sharing time at first and third. He slugged 11 home runs in only 140 at-bats last year and an additional 16 in Triple-A refining his aggressive approach.

Mark Canha OF/1B

Canha could make a lot of sense for the Padres, and maybe even match up well; as the Athletics are searching for veteran catching help. The Padres already traded a young catcher in Austin Allen for Jurickson Profar to Oakland, but he may be better suited as a DH long-term.

Oakland will likely look at the free-agent market to fill that void — as they have another top catching prospect in Sean Murphy. However, if they wanted an elite defender that could be available, look no further than Austin Hedges; the best pitch framer in MLB.

While I don’t think that would be enough to pry Canha away straight up, I could see Oakland selling high on a late-blooming 30-year-old outfielder.

Also, Canha can play all three outfield spots and first base. He has interesting splits, in that he hits for a higher average against same-handed pitchers as a righty. For example, he slashed .297./.418/.548 with a .966 OPS against right-handed pitching. The Padres were one of the worst teams in MLB against right-handed pitchers last year, and while Canha is a righty, his slash line is that of an elite level lefty.

Moreover, he hit 18 of his 26 homers against righties as well. Having said that, while his average was near .220 against lefties, he still got on base at a .350 OBP an .801 OPS. In addition to some of the aforementioned attributes, he has well above average OAA, hard-hit rate, and decent exit velocities. The Padres are emphasis more athletic, versatile players with speed and on-base emphasis and he fits that very well. 

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. OF/INF

Gurriel is interesting in that he has above-average speed but hasn’t been able to translate that into above-average defense anywhere on the diamond. He has played all over — at short, second and the outfield and all faired poorly defensively. However, he is versatile (in the sense he has a track record for playing other positions) and can hit. For a team starving for offense, it could be wise to try and focus player development on him at one position and let his offensive trade-offs make up for his deficiencies while hoping he can improve. Lourdes, 26, hit 277 with 20 home runs with an .869 OPS in 314 at-bats (277/.327/.541 slash line).

These players aren’t the sexiest names and are undoubtedly not stars like Mookie, Lindor or Bryant, but could all provide upgrades for a team that still lacks offensive productivity and consistency.

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