As spring training starts to see the light of Opening Day in the distance, the Padres’ roster is starting to come in to focus. This morning the team announced some roster moves, paring the players in Major League camp down to 54. Keeping an eye on injury statuses can add some clarity to positional battles over the next few weeks as well.
The Padres announced the following roster moves:
· Reassigned OF Nick Buss, RHP Jon Edwards, RHP Jason Jester, LHP Kyle McGrath, INF/OF Jose Pirela and LHP Brad Wieck to minor league camp.
· Optioned INF Javier Guerra, LHP Keith Hessler, INF Jose Rondon and RHP Jose Ruiz to minor league camp.
Since the Minor League camp opened last week, there’s now a place to send those players who have been effectively eliminated from contention for an Opening Day roster spot. The first group of players listed above fall under that category. All of them are signed to minor league contracts and had a slim chance of early promotion to begin with. The second group of players are on the 40-man roster and are much more likely to get a call-up once a need opens up. The verbs used in the quote above are significant. Players who are not on the 40-man roster are “reassigned” and will eventually be added to minor league rosters once they open up. Those who are on the 40-man roster are “optioned”, and typically the organization has three years for which each player may be optioned to a minor league roster. For Guerra and Ruiz, this is their first season on a Major League roster and will have two remaining option years after the 2017 season. Hessler and Rondon just had their second option exercised and will have one remaining year. For a reasonably accurate glimpse of the present roster projections, check out rosterresource.com’s Padres page. There’s a really useful list of the players on the 40-man roster along with the most relevant minor leaguers in the organization.
Alex Dickerson was scratched from today’s lineup with back tightness. The injury that has nagged him through camp may now threaten his chances to avoid the disabled list come Opening Day. Combine that with Jabari Blash’s hot spring (he’s batting .364/.483/1.045 and the MLB leader with five homers) and we might see Blash take Dickerson’s roster spot to start the year.
Manuel Margot left a game on March 6th with a sore knee, and that knee has now kept him out of games for a week. There has been speculation suggesting that he could be held back in the minors to start the season to preserve another year of team control, and taking caution with a speedy player’s wheels would frame an excellent case for doing just that. Travis Jankowski is having a nice spring, but the other centerfielders in camp aren’t making a strong case. Nick Buss was assigned to MiLB camp as noted above. Colin Cowgill and Rafael Ortega are both well below the Mendoza line, and Franchy Cordero is barely above it. Hunter Renfroe: backup centerfielder?
Austin Hedges left a game on March 9th with hamstring tightness. He’s still being held out of game play and running drills, but he’s doing all other exercises in camp as he prepares for the starting job this season. Hector Sanchez and Luis Torrens have been handling the bulk of the catching duties in his absence, and Christian Bethancourt saw his first action behind the dish in Sunday’s game.
Ryan Schimpf has been dealing with tenderness in his oblique muscles, which has limited him since March 6th. Primarily a second baseman last year, Schimpf is being considered at both second and third base. Carlos Asuaje has seen the most play at second this spring, and Allen Cordoba has been used at third more than any other Padre.
The Padres are exercising caution with all of these injuries. They all appear to be minor, but there’s no need to risk exacerbating an injury when the games don’t count. That said, camp is full of talented players hungry for a chance to get a leg up on their competition. Keep an eye on the roster moves as well as the injury news as the spring progresses.