The Padres have announced their Opening Day roster, and it’s a doozy. There are three Rule 5 players with hardly any experience above rookie ball. There are four players who could be considered catchers. There are no traditional backup outfielders. To say that this roster is unusual is an understatement. Without further ado, here are your Opening Day Padres:
- Catchers (3): Austin Hedges, Luis Torrens, Hector Sanchez
- Infielders (6): Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte, Erick Aybar, Ryan Schimpf, Luis Sardinas, Allen Cordoba
- Outfielders (3): Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Travis Jankowski
- Starting pitchers (5): Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, Jered Weaver, Luis Perdomo
- Relief Pitchers (8): Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter, Brad Hand, Craig Stammen, Jarred Cosart, Jose Torres, Miguel Diaz, Christian Bethancourt
Not only are the Padres are starting the season with more Rule 5 players than any team in history, they’re doing it with three players who are unusually young and inexperienced as far as Rule 5 players typically come. Luis Torrens is a 20-year-old catcher, a position that typically takes more years of seasoning than any other on the diamond. Allen Cordoba is a 21-year-old shortstop who struggled at the plate all spring but seemed to take well to a utility role in the field, appearing at 2B, 3B, SS, LF, & CF. Miguel Diaz was a starter in the minors but is primed to work from the bullpen. Diaz is the only one of the three who has seen time above rookie ball, logging 26 appearances last year in low-A ball.
Our favorite hybrid unicorn Swiss army knife player, Christian Bethancourt, has been described as a pitcher first and foremost this spring, but he saw spring training time behind the plate and in the corner outfield spots. His versatility would be considered a key for being able to retain all those Rule 5 kids... but he’s joined on the roster by Hector Sanchez. Sanchez had a great spring and arguably earned his roster spot with his bat... but if that’s the case, where are Cory Spangenberg and Jabari Blash? Spangenberg was optioned to El Paso, where he can play every day instead of splitting time with Solarte, Schimpf. and the rest of the infielders at 2B/3B. Blash only led the team in home runs, RBI’s, and hashtags, but the decision to send him back to AAA must have been due to a roster crunch, since he’s not currently on the 40-man roster. As for Sanchez, he may be making the team partly due to his ability to play first base and for his experience as a bench bat.
Veteran reliever Craig Stammen may be the feel-good story of this roster, making the team after being out of the majors since 2014. His performance all spring was only matched by the young Phil Maton, but Stammen’s veteran status should help stabilize what figures to be an excellent bullpen while Maton is still developing and may be a part of the team’s season later this summer.
The good news is that the starters at the fielding positions and the bullpen corps presents athleticism, balance, and plenty of potential. The bad news is that the rotation has some big question marks and the backup position players are an odd bunch. In a season where player development is the focus, this roster makes sense. If things go right, we could have promising value forcing some trade decisions mid-season as well as some tantalizing talent to carry forward. While that doesn’t put wins on the board this year, it fits the long-term strategy and should still be an interesting team to cheer for on the field.