The phrase “position battle” can’t possibly apply to first base for the Padres in 2017 or for the foreseeable future. With Wil Myers signed to a six-year, $83 million extension, the job is his as long as he wants it. With that in mind, there are still some questions at the position. One man can’t play every inning of every game, so the depth behind him needs to get worked out. With no clear backup on the roster, we might have to stretch a little to figure that wrinkle out. Here are the players in camp who might get considered for time at the “other” hot corner:
Current 40-man roster members: Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte, Alex Dickerson, Ryan Schimpf
Non-roster invitees: Brett Wallace, Jamie Romak, Christian Villanueva
On the current roster, there isn’t a clear candidate for the backup role. Solarte has the most MLB experience at the post, but he’s likely to start daily across the diamond. Dickerson was drafted as a first baseman but has played exclusively in the outfield the last few years after his defensive ability at first was drawn into question. Schimpf is probably capable, and he started four games there in AAA last year, but that’s hardly enough to capably step in should Myers need more than a day off.
Taking a look off the roster, our old friend Brett Wallace is back after re-signing this offseason. Certainly no defensive wizard, Wallace was effective in a fill-in role both at first and third over the last two seasons, but his bat went flat in 2016. Jamie Romak is a 31-year-old slugger with MLB experience with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and the Dodgers in 2014 who spent all of 2016 playing in Japan. He may be a AAAA power bat, but he’s spent plenty of time at first and third as well as both corner outfield positions. Think of him as this year’s Patrick Kivlehan. The youngster of this group is Christian Villanueva, who was an under-the-radar, high-upside signing this offseason. Only 25 years old, he was a high draft pick by the Cubs in 2011 and was considered a top prospect at third base for his excellent defense and power hitting profile. A broken fibula kept him out for the entire 2016 season, but a strong start could get him consideration should a roster spot open up.
It’s not a role that will garner much attention this spring, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Wil Myers had his first season of good health after a wrist surgery, and a boxing regimen this offseason should strengthen his formerly-fragile wrists, but a contingency plan need to be in place at each post.