In the final days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, the San Diego Padres signed a couple of veterans for additional depth.
The San Diego Padres reached agreements on a couple of minor league contracts a week ahead of their first full-squad workout, February 18th. Free-agent outfielder Juan Lagares was brought aboard and will compete for the starting centerfield job vacated by the recently traded Manuel Margot. Gordon Beckham also reached a minor-league pact, though his route to a big-league roster spot has more roadblocks.
Lagares spent his entire seven-year playing career with the New York Mets and is coming off his worst offensive season as a big leaguer. He slashed .213/.279/.326 in 2019 while playing in 133 games for the Mets.
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Lagares has never hit well, or reached base for that matter, though his strength comes in the form of his defensive abilities. He has above-average range in centerfield and accounted for 15 outfield assists in 2013. The following year he was a Gold Glove recipient and when the Mets made their World Series run in 2015 Lagares hit a cool .348 in the postseason.
Beckham is a former first-round draft pick who struggled in six seasons with the Chicago White Sox before bouncing around the league spending parts of five seasons with six teams. In each of his last three stops, it seemed like Beckham was just happy to be getting a paycheck for playing baseball.
He hit .217 in 85 games for the Braves in 2016 then hit a putrid .180 in limited time the next two years for the Mariners. He somehow managed his way onto the Detroit Tigers team, a team that lost a league-high 114 games, spending time at all four infield positions. Ty France and Greg Garcia are ahead of Beckham on the depth chart with Garcia able to fill in at every spot on the diamond as well.
Lagares has a March 19th opt-out clause in his contract meaning if he does not stand to make the Major League roster he can choose to walk away from his minor league contract. If Lagares stays healthy and hits a little this spring, he’ll see his contract purchased by the San Diego Padres and head north once the season begins. Beckham is destined for Triple-A El Paso and he’ll be depth in case the injury bug bites at the big-league level.