This is the best news I've heard in a long time. Man, oh man, do I love the idea of a legitimate two-way player in baseball. It's always fun to see pitchers who can rake, position players on the mound in blowouts, and the occasional conversion from position player to pitcher or vice-versa, but this is nearly unheard of. The last guy to even come close to such a role was Brooks Kieschnick with the Brewers in 2003. He played three complete games in left field and four as the designated hitter along with 24 pinch-hitting appearances to go with his 42 games out of the bullpen in his first season after converting from the outfield. That was awesome, and I was a big fan, but what the Padres and Christian Bethancourt are exploring could be even better.
Christian Bethancourt has thrown two bullpen sessions. Padres exploring the idea of making him a pitcher/catcher/outfielder hybrid.— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) October 1, 2016
Bethancourt was impressive in both of his appearances as an emergency pitcher, changing speeds and getting swings-and-misses. And when I say changing speeds, I mean changing speeds. As in 49 miles per hour on one pitch, and then 94 on the very next one. Now I'm just a simple country lawyer*, but that seems impressive to me.
*I am not actually a lawyer, but the adjectives and the awe still apply.
He also made twelve appearances in the outfield in 2016, including seven starts. He started in right field four times, completing one game, and in left field thrice, completing two. He's still a work in progress out there, but he's come leaps and bounds from the first day manager Andy Green almost started him in right field but reconsidered.
Earlier during the season, I really hoped that part of the reason the Padres were carrying three catchers was that they were going to start using Bethancourt out of the bullpen in more than the most dire situations. It didn't work out that way then, but it sounds like it still might. It makes more sense to do it this way, utilizing the offseason to work on his pitching, as he's out of options and can't be sent down to the minors to develop that part of his game.