The Padres have ten players who are eligible for arbitration this offseason. The deadline for offering them contracts for the 2017 season is today, December 2nd. Each player presents a different case for their contract status, and some of them may have their futures with the organization in jeopardy. Here’s a rundown of those ten players, listed by remaining years of team control, with arbitration projections per MLBTradeRumors.com:
Final arbitration season:
- Tyson Ross, RHSP, $9.6M: 2015’s projected ace spent the entirety of the season on the disabled list after a rough opening day outing. A season plagued with shoulder issues ended with an operation to address a diagnosis of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, requiring removal of a rib to alleviate pressure and inflammation to nerves in his shoulder/chest. The timeline for his recovery may have him back on the mound this spring, but there’s no guarantee that he will recover a) on time and b) to the same performance level he showed in the past. The moderately high salary projection represents a calculated risk the team must assess, but compared to free agent market options, $10M still isn’t a high price to pay for a pitcher who still may have ace potential. Expect the team to retain him and strive for increasing value in the final season of team control.
- Alexi Amarista, UTIL, $1.6M: The versatile “Little Ninja” has shown defensive ability around the diamond as a backup utility player. Incumbent shortstop Luis Sardiñas will need a capable backup, but the team may opt to sign a veteran like Adam Rosales for the role. Amarista has never been much of a hitter, and his speed doesn’t play on the basepaths, so his offensive skills don’t bring much to the table. While the salary is very affordable, the team may opt to look elsewhere to fill the role.
One more year of arbitration remaining:
- Carter Capps, RHRP, $1M: A breakout season in 2014 make Capps appear like a potential premium closer before Tommy John surgery put him on the shelf for the entire 2015 season. The Andrew Cashner trade brought him over from Miami, and his recovery schedule should have him at full strength this spring. Capps may work into the closer role for the Padres this season.
- Derek Norris, C, $4M: Since coming to the Padres from the A’s before the 2015 season, Norris’ production at the plate has fallen woefully short of the promise that made him an All-Star in 2014. He struggles to hit right-handed pitching, and it’s been increasingly apparent that he struggles with fastballs in general. The emergence of Austin Hedges along with the acquisition of Christian Bethancourt has put a squeeze on Norris’ projected role in 2017. The team may opt to retain him for now, but he may be traded before the start of the season if they do. At $4M, he’s an expensive backup catcher, especially if the team projects to carry three at the start of the season.
- Hector Sanchez, C, $900k: A journeyman backup catcher, Sanchez hit surprisingly well in limited playing time last season. Still, with the glut of options at the position, the team is likely to decline him a major league contract. If he’s willing to sign a minor league deal, he’s an ideal candidate to send to El Paso for depth.
Two more years of arbitration remaining:
- Wil Myers, 1B/OF, $4.7M: The 2016 All-Star has been in talks with the team regarding an extension. Presuming his wrist issues are behind him, Myers could be a key piece in the Padres plan for a long time. He will likely receive a tendered contract today, but don’t be surprised if that contract changes in a big way before the offseason is over.
- Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B, $2.7M: One of the oldest members of the current roster at age 29, Solarte has become a leader on and off the field for this young squad. Still, with ample options behind him in Ryan Schimpf, Cory Spangenberg, and Carlos Asuaje, Solarte may be seen as a tradeable asset. Several teams around the league are looking for help at third base, and Solarte’s excellent 2016 season may represent an upgrade at a very reasonable price. He’ll be tendered a contract, but again don’t be surprised to hear his name in trade rumors through the offseason.
- Christian Friedrich, LHSP, $2M: A surprise starter for the Padres, Friedrich was signed to a minor league deal before the 2016 season. With the current status of Padres’ starting pitching looking quite bleak, Friedrich is penciled in as a rotation member.
- Brandon Maurer, RHRP, $1.7M: After a rough start to 2016, Maurer finished the season capably holding down the closer role after the departure of Fernando Rodney. Expect him to pick that role back up next spring.
- Brad Hand, LHP, $1.4M: After making the most appearances of any Padre pitcher in 2016, Hand’s stock is way up. While he excelled in an extended relief role, his experience as a starter may make him a swingman or rotation candidate for 2017... or his value may place him on the trade block. Either way, he’ll get an offer with his affordable projected arbitration salary.
With some tough decisions to make at the top of this list, keep your eyes peeled for news today. A point worth noting is that the team is currently carrying a full 40-man roster, so if Preller wants to pick up anyone in the Rule 5 Draft, someone may be sent packing.