As previously detailed, all teams had to make the necessary moves to prepare for the Rule 5 Draft by Friday, the 18th. The Padres made some interesting moves in clearing three additional roster spots and then selecting the contracts of four players to protect them from selection in the draft.
The three players departing the 40-man roster are Brett Wallace, Oswaldo Arcia, and Leonel Campos. Veteran pinch hitter Brett Wallace has selected free agency. After a successful 2015 in a pinch hitter role, Wallace struggled all season at the plate. His departure leaves a question mark on the depth chart behind first baseman Wil Myers, but potentially opens an opportunity for Alex Dickerson to increase his value to the team. Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia was designated for assignment, so there’s a chance that he could clear waivers and accept assignment to AAA El Paso. After being claimed off waivers late in the season from Miami, Arcia showed his raw power but failed to make enough contact to prevent slipping down the depth chart behind Hunter Renfroe and other young outfielders. Leonel Campos was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays. The righty reliever had several chances to stick with the Padres, but failed to prevent runs in spite of a respectable strikeout rate.
The four players selected were shortstop Javier Guerra, starting pitcher Walker Lockett, outfielder Franchy Cordero, and and pitcher(?) Jose Ruiz. The first two players were widely predicted, the third was speculated, and the fourth came out of nowhere. Guerra is young with plenty of tools to become an impact MLB shortstop, but a disastrous 2016 dropped him down the prospect rankings. Perhaps a new focus and a new setting can get him back on track. Lockett rose from single-A up to AAA, starting for the Chihuahuas in their playoff run. He has a good chance of cracking the Padres’ rotation, perhaps breaking camp in that role. Cordero has a big bat and has taken well to centerfield after proving error-prone at shortstop. He’ll likely spend most of the season in AA or AAA, but his selection draws question to whether the team will pursue a return of free agent Jon Jay. Jose Ruiz is the real wild card here, a 22-year-old who was drafted as a catcher but was converted to a reliever late last year. He’s never played at a level higher than single-A, and he’s a work in progress to say the least, so there must be some inside info to explain his selection.
Perhaps equally interesting is the omission of starter Michael Kelly. The 24-year-old pitcher had a standout season in 2016 and appeared to be ready for a spring training competition for a spot in the Padres’ starting rotation. By leaving him off the 40-man roster, he may be claimed by another team in the Rule 5 Draft in December. Other notable players left exposed in the draft are pitchers Cory Mazzoni, Trry McNutt, and Bryan Rodriguez.