San Diego Padres: 2017 Season Review and Offseason Preview

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Brad Hand /
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DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 17: Jhoulys Chacin
DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 17: Jhoulys Chacin /

Top Offseason Priorities

According to CBS Sports, only two teams had a lower payroll than the Padres’ $71 million last year (the Rays and Brewers). Wil Myers was the most expensive position player on the roster, at $4.5 million, and the aging remains of Jered Weaver’s career was the highest-paid pitcher, at $3 million. In fact, a sizeable portion of the Padres’ payroll was going to players no longer on the team, including Melvin Upton, Jr. ($16 million), James Shields ($11 million), and Hector Olivera ($6 million). This is what a full-on rebuild looks like.

Upton, Jr.’s contract is off the books, but the Padres will still be paying Shields and Olivera, along with $2.5 million to Jedd Gyorko, who played this season with the St. Louis Cardinals.

This is how the lineup and rotation look for 2018 based on their current roster, with salaries from Cot’s Baseball Contracts at Baseball Prospectus:

  • C Austin Hedges, pre-arbitration
  • 1B Wil Myers, $2 million
  • 2B Carlos Asuaje, pre-arbitration
  • SS Yangervis Solarte, $4 million
  • 3B Cory Spangenberg, arbitration-eligible (projected: $2 million)
  • LF Jose Pirela, pre-arbitration
  • CF Manuel Margot, pre-arbitration
  • RF Hunter Renfroe, pre-arbitration
  • OF Matt Szczur, arbitration-eligible (projected: $800,000)
  • SP Clayton Richard, $3 million
  • SP Dinelson Lamet, pre-arbitration
  • SP Luis Perdomo, pre-arbitration
  • SP Robbie Erlin, arbitration-eligible (projected: $700,000)
  • SP Colin Rea, pre-arbitration
  • RP Brad Hand, arbitration-eligible (projected: $3.8 million)
  • RP Carter Capps, arbitration-eligible (projected: $1.3 million)
  • RP Kirby Yates, arbitration-eligible (projected: $1.1 million)
  • RP Travis Wood, $6.5 million being paid by Kansas City Royals
  • Free agents: SS Erick Aybar, Jhoulys Chacin, Jordan Lyles, Craig Stammen

The Padres have inexpensive players throughout their lineup and pitching rotation, but still, owe departed players around $20 million this year. More than half of that comes off the books after the 2018 season when they no longer have to pay any part of James Shields’ contract. They may open up the checkbook when that happens, but will likely limit their spending in the meantime.

One of their departing free agents they’d like to bring back is Jhoulys Chacin, but they won’t get him for the same one-year, $1.75 million contract he had this year. He’ll be an interesting test case in free agency because of his extreme home/road splits. He had a 1.79 ERA and 3.80 FIP at Petco Park and a 6.53 ERA and 4.85 FIP everywhere else.

Re-signing Chacin would give the rotation another veteran pitcher, along with Clayton Richard, to hold down the fort while the younger pitchers develop. The Padres’ minor league system is top-loaded with pitching. According to MLB Pipeline, seven of their top 10 prospects are pitchers, and the three position players in the top 10 are still two to three years away from big league play.

More from Call to the Pen

Another priority for Padres GM A.J. Preller is dealing closer Brad Hand. He’s coming off two very good years and has a low salary so he could bring good talent to the organization. The Padres won’t be chasing a playoff spot for a while, so a good, cheap closer is a luxury.

While the Padres continue the rebuild in the hopes of being the Houston Astros sometime down the road, they will play their young position players and see if they develop. Unless they re-sign Erick Aybar, they’ll need a shortstop for the short term because prospects Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis, Jr. aren’t yet ready, and Yangervis Solarte is better used as a utility player.

If the Padres don’t make progress, you have to wonder how long Wil Myers will be around. His contract is heavily backloaded. He’ll make $2 million next year and $3 million in 2019; then his contract escalates to $20 million per year for the remaining four years. If he gets off to a good start next year, the Padres could look to trade him to get out from under the back end of that contract.

Next: MLB Free Agency 2017-18: Biggest Holes for Every Team

Padres fans have endured seven straight losing seasons, and it looks like it could stretch to a decade or so while their young prospects develop. Despite the losing, the Padres were 18th of 30 teams in attendance last year. Hopefully, those loyal fans will be rewarded like the Astros fans were this year.y.