First a quick breakdown of the currently rostered players, their contract status and their projected 2011 salaries. Contract statuses were acquired from baseball-reference.com and projected salaries were made up by me with info from Baseball Prospectus' Jeff Euston and some local SD sources.
|Player||Age||Contract Status||Projected Salary|
|Adrian Gonzalez||28||5 yrs/$15M (07-11)||$5.5M*|
*Actual 2011 salary
Cumulative Total: $32.06M
There are 25 rows there just to give the impression of how many spots are left to fill. Its worth noting that Scott Hairston could be retained and would be an Arb-3, but I don't see Hoyer being irresponsible enough to keep him for the kind of money it would take. It's also worth noting that any player in the minors that the Padres could call up would slot in at $420K. So, if they called up Kyle Blanks or Cesar Ramos or Cory Luebke to fill in one of those empty spots, then you can call that another $420k towards the payroll.
Approximate Spending Limit: $7.94M - $12.94M
That spending limit is based on Jed Hoyer saying that the payroll will begin with a "4" again. The low number takes that statement literally enough to make the total equal $40M. The higher number assumes a payroll increase up to $45M. I don't have any more insight than that to go on.
Using the roster construction I have listed there are 4 players listed for the starting rotation (Latos, Richard, Stauffer and LeBlanc). I've only included 4 because it seems exceedingly likely that the team with sign or trade for at least one starter. Wade LeBlanc is listed over Cory Luebke simply because of seniority. As I've said previously, there is really no salary difference between the pre-arb players so you could pretend it says Luebke up there and it doesn't change much.
The Padres typically carry 7 relievers and you can fill out most of that with Bell, Adams, Gregerson, Russell, Frieri and Thatcher. They still will need one more guy to fill out that last spot. That guy will probably come from within the organization So you can take the the "Need: 1" with a grain of salt.
Nick Hundley is the only catcher listed and there are no legitimate backup candidates in the minors. However, the Padres will need to catch 2 catchers.
With the given list of players there is no sane way to formulate an infield. You can plug in Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Headley for the corners, but then you're left with one player (Everth Cabrera) for 2 starting spots and at least 1 backup spot. Well, that is unless you count Jarrett Hoffpauir as being a candidate for one of those spots. Well, do you? I didn't think so. We'll also call Oscar Salazar an infielder for now.
Between the catchers and the infielders rostered and needed we have a total of 8 players accounted for. Of the players rostered that are considered outfielders we have a total count of 5 (Ludwick, Venable, Gwynn, Denorfia and Maybin). That brings us to a total of 13 position players, which would be our goal. So, there's not really room in the OF for another player unless someone (Gwynn? Denorfia? Ludwick?) gets non-tendered or traded. You'd like to fit Aaron Cunningham in here somewhere, but we'll have to wait and see how this offseason shakes out.
So, that's somewhere between $8M and 13M to spend on a starting pitcher, a reliever, a catcher and 2 infielders. You could also make a few arguments about the team signing or trading for 2 starting pitchers and send LeBlanc and Luebke to AAA (or maybe LeBlanc to the bullpen?) or that we'll make this trade or that trade and that changes everything. Sure, that's all possible. Let me illustrate the following point though:
The needs we have now are very similar to the ones we had last year. We effectively ended up signing Jon Garland, David Eckstein, Jerry Hairston and Yorvit Torrealba to fill the same holes listed. They cost $4.7M, $1M, $2.12M and $750k respectively. That's $8.57M, which is also close to what the Padres have left to spend this offseason.
So, basically, the team is in the same boat looking for bargains like those. Unless they do something drastic. Which, is part of the reason that people talk about the organization non-tendering Gwynn/Ludwick/ or trading Gonzalez/Bell/Ludwick/Headley/Adams. No one can really envision the Padres getting the type of value they had in those 4 outgoing players by spending that same amount. Either Jed Hoyer had an opportunity and smartly took it last year or he got lucky. Either way it'll take some luck to do it again.
Its also worth pointing out that the way this shakes out, the team is getting almost almost no new help from its farm system to start the year. You'd really prefer to have a pipeline where you at least didn't have to fill one of these holes because a rookie would be ready to step in. The closest things we have are the aforementioned Jarrett Hoffpauir who could play 2B (although not homegrown), Chris Stewart could backup C (but then you get no ability to hit from your backup) Luis Durango could be your CF (that might be okay, but you're just swapping him for another OF and still have other spots to fill) and Cory Luebke could be your 5th starter (but then if someone in the rotation gets hurt you don't have any good options to turn to). The lone consolation is that you will be able to fill out the bullpen with minor league depth (even though no obvious candidate comes to mind for that final spot). One of these days this low payroll team will make it work the way some others do and have a consistent pipeline of major league ready players. Maybe.