With the playoffs underway, it’s time for Padres fans to look back on another year in the books. Here’s a review of all the players on the Padres end-of-season 40-man roster, and a preview of the organization’s contractual obligations for 2019. The players are grouped by their contractual category: Free Agents, Under Contract, Arbitration-eligible and Pre-Arbitration.
When possible, arbitration estimates came from MLB Trade Rumors’ Arbitration projector.
Contract Leaving, Contracts Staying
Two Free Agents:
- SS Freddy Galvis’ 85 wRC+ was the best of his career. Even with that increased offensive output, his 1.2 WAR ranked 19th of 21 qualified shortstops. He made $6,825,000 in his final year of arbitration and will certainly look for a multi-year deal. Having Freddy Galvis at shortstop in 2019 will not make-or-break the Padres season. He could be a useful stopgap until Fernando Tatis Jr.—who skipped High-A entirely and has only played 102 games at Double-A—takes over for the long-haul. Sportrac projects Galvis at nearly $12M in Average Annual Value as a free agent...would that be worth it for a near-average shortstop?
- C A.J. Ellis produced far more than the Padres could have hoped for on a 1yr-$1.25M contract. He was a veteran mentor to Austin Hedges, and led the team with a 14.2BB%, but at 37 years old, Ellis likely does not fit the organization’s 2019 plans.
Five Under Contract:
- 1B Eric Hosmer’s -0.1 WAR is not what the Padres envisioned when he signed a franchise-record contract that will pay him another $21M in 2019 (and 2020-2022). His -1.2º launch angle was the lowest among all players with at least 150 batted ball events, while his 23.5% soft contact rate was the third-highest among all qualified batters. He’ll be back as the Padres first baseman for the foreseeable future.
- UT Wil Myers is working on a move to third base, after spending most of his career in right field (2013-2014), center field (2015), first base (2016-2017) and left field (2018). Among third basemen, Myers ranked dead-last with a -24.7 UZR/150 (min. 300 Inn). At the plate, his hard contact rate (46.6%) and line-drive rate (27.5%) are career bests, while his .327 BABIP is the highest since his rookie season. Unfortunately, his walk rate dipped, as did his over-the-fence power leading to a modest 107 wRC+. Myers is an under-appreciated base-stealer, going 61-for-74 since 2016. Right now, he has no obvious home on the Padres, but his contract—which jumps to $22.5M/yr for 2020 to 2022—makes him tough to trade. Unless the Padres package him with a lot of cash or minor league capital, Myers will be back at the hot corner, making $5.5M in 2019.
- RHP Craig Stammen was excellent in 2018. Fangraphs ranked him as the fifth-most-valuable reliever with 2.3 WAR and a stellar 2.19 FIP in 79.0 IP (73 G). He’ll turn 35 in March, making him a bit old for the Padres window of contention, but his team-friendly $2.25M contract for 2019 should make him an easy trade candidate.
- RHP Kaz Makita struggled in his first season removed from Japanese baseball posting a 4.85 FIP and surrendering 7 homers in only 35.0 IP. His 2018 performance cast doubt on where he’ll fit in a re-vamped Padres bullpen that seemed to add a new flamethrower every other week during the back half of the year. He is owed $1.9M next season, the last year of his contract.
- LHP Clayton Richard was serviceable in 2018. He averaged around six innings per start, and produced right in-line with his career norms: 4.67 FIP, 1.38 WHIP. Before the season, he signed a 2-year contract that will pay him $3M in 2019. His age, 35, and season-ending knee surgery, make him a likely casualty of the roster crunch.
Should the Padres keep Makita and Richard for 2019?
This poll is closed
Yes, keep them both
Keep Makita, release Richard
Keep Richard, release Makita
No, release them both
There is some confusion as to who exactly will become Arbitration-eligible for the Padres this Winter. Arbitration comes down to service time. A player accrues service time for each day that he is on the Active Roster or Disabled List for a Big League club during the Regular Season. The maximum time that can be earned in a single season is 172 days, which is considered a full year.
When a player has accrued three full years of service time, he becomes arbitration eligible. Additionally, the top-22% (in terms of service time) of players with only two-years credit will also be eligible. As one might expect, that 22% cutoff changes yearly. These players are referred to as “Super-two,” and will reach Arbitration four times, as opposed to the usual three.
Service time is generally written in terms of Years and Days, separated by a decimal. So, 2.171 would denote a player with two full seasons, and 171 days of credit—one day away from completing his third year. MLB Trade Rumors lists seven Padres who could be Arbitration Eligible this season. For three—Cory Spangenberg, Robbie Erlin and Kirby Yates—it will be their second time through the process. For the other four—Hedges, Bryan Mitchell, Travis Jankowski and Alex Dickerson—it will be their first. Or, will it?
Of those, only Mitchell has achieved three full seasons of service time. The rest may, or may not, fall into the Super-Two category. By my calculations, Jankowski (2.168), Hedges (2.166) and Dickerson (2.146) are shy of the three-year mark. Additionally, Colin Rea (2.140) and Luis Perdomo (2.112) have amassed significantly more than two service years.
For the purposes of this article, all the players mentioned above will be grouped as Arbitration-Eligible.
Six(ish) First-Year Arbitration Players
- RHP Bryan Mitchell simply has not gotten hitters out at the major league level. For his career, he owns a 5.05 FIP, 5.4 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 171.1 IP. In 2018, he was one of only two pitchers to walk more batters than he struck out (min. 50 IP). Was his September performance—5.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 4.50 FIP in 24.2 IP—enough to save his roster spot? Projected Arbitration: $1.2M.
- OF Travis Jankowski might be the Padres most trustworthy outfielder. He is above average at all three positions, has a near-10% career walk rate and is the Padres best baserunner. Jankowski should earn around $1.5M next season as—if nothing else—the late-inning defensive-compliment to Franmil Reyes. Projected Arbitration: $1.4M.
- C Austin Hedges finished with his best offensive season to-date. His .231/.282/.429 triple slash and 6.4 BB% are all career highs—as modest as they may be. Among catchers, his 90 wRC+ ranked 17th, while his .198 Isolated Power ranked 6th (min. 300 PA). But, baseball Prospectus, which rated Hedges as the best defensive backstop in 2017—with 34.1 Fielding Runs Above Average—only credited him with 9.4 FRAA. That is good, but not good enough for an OBP south of .300. Hedges has one offensive split that is so extreme, so seemingly random and yet so consistent that it begs mention: he can only hit at night. Since his debut in 2014, Hedges’ 18 wRC+ under the sun ranks dead last among catchers, while his 92 wRC+ under the lights is comfortably average. In 2019, Hedges boasted a 120 wRC+ (7th among catchers) with 10 HR in 61 Night Games, compared to a .151 AVG and 38 wRC+ in 22 Day Games. Projected Arbitration: $1.8M.
- LF Alex Dickerson is 28-years-old and has only 95 MLB games to his name. He hasn’t played, at any level, since a promising 2016 rookie campaign. After losing 2017 to yet another injury—this time Tommy John Surgery—it’s difficult to see where the Poway native fits on next year’s roster. Projected Arbitration: $700k.
- RHP Colin Rea looked like an asset in 2015 when he recorded a 3.45 FIP in his first six major league starts. His sophomore campaign was shaky before injuries ended his season, leading to Tommy John surgery in November of 2016. He didn’t pitch again until this season, appearing in 18 unspectacular games for the Double-A Missions and Triple-A Chihuahuas—75.1 IP, 1.67 WHIP, 14 HR. Even if Rea is slotted for arbitration this Winter, he won’t be looking at much more than the League minimum.
- RHP Luis Perdomo, who impressed as a Rule 5 pick in 2016, didn’t moved the needle this season. Though his 4.26 FIP was a career-best, his Hard-Contact rate spiked to 40.5%, and his groundball rate nose-dived to 43.0% after hovering near 60% in each of his first two seasons. Additionally, his fastball velocity has dropped each year—95.1 mph in 2016, 94.5 mph in 2017, 94.1 mph in 2018. There’s a solid chance—if Stammen is traded and Richard released—that Perdomo, with his career 355 IP and 59 GS, will be the most experienced pitcher on the Padres roster in 2019. If he makes the Super-Two cutoff, a contract around $1.3M seems reasonable.
Which first-year arbitration eligible pitchers should the Padres retain?
This poll is closed
Perdomo, Mitchell and Rea
Perdomo and Mitchell only
Perdomo and Rea only
Mitchell and Rea only
Three Second-Year Arbitration Players:
- RHP Kirby Yates emerged from nowhere last season to post a 114 ERA+ with 14.1 K/9 for the Padres. That earned him a $1,065,000 contract in his first year of arbitration. Among qualified National League relievers in 2018, Yates ranked 7th in WAR (1.8), fourth in strikeout rate (12.9 K/9) and second in Skill-Interactive ERA (2.26 SIERA). Yates will be 32-years-old in 2019, but has thrown fewer than 600 total innings since entering affiliated ball as an un-drafted free agent in 2009. The Padres might view Yates as a long-term anchor to a bullpen that is filling up with youth, inexperience and inexpensive upside. Projected Arbitration: $3M.
- LHP Robbie Erlin was far more valuable than his $650k contract in 2018. He was dominant out of the bullpen, to the tune of a 2.05 ERA in 27 appearances. Among Padres relievers, Erlin allowed the lowest hard contact rate—28.9%—and highest groundball rate—55.4% (min. 10 IP). In 12 starts, he had an ugly 6.23 ERA. However, his solid 3.87 FIP—second to only Matt Strahm among Padres starters—eludes to bad luck. His crafty, contact-first approach—20.1 K%, 2.7 BB% in 2018—could provide an important change-of-pace to fireball relievers like Trey Wingenter, Robert Stock and Jose Castillo. Projected Arbitration: $1.1M.
- UT Cory Spangenberg made $1.7M in his first year of arbitration. The 27-year-old is in his third healthy MLB season, but has been unable to repeat the success of his 2015 rookie campaign:
2015: 8.1 BB%, 21.7 K%, .129 ISO, 105 wRC+, 2.0 WAR
2017: 7.0 BB%, 26.3 K%, .137 ISO, 92 wRC+, 1.1 WAR
2018: 7.6 BB%, 32.8 K%, .128 ISO, 83 wRC+, 0.6 WAR
Spangenberg is battling for a utility role and is currently benefitting from a complete lack of infield upside on the 40-man roster and in the upper minors. Projected Arbitration: $2.3M.
The “Free” Players
The rest of the twenty-eight players are not yet eligible for arbitration and will play for something near the MLB-Minimum Salary of $555k in 2019.
- Trade Deadline-addition Francisco Mejia impressed with his lightning quick bat—generating two home runs in his first start, and a walk-off grand slam—and canon arm. By the end of the season, Mejia had a .179/.258/.375 triple slash to go with a 32.8 K%. However, he’s 22-years-old and only has 76 PA on his career. MLB.com’s top-rated catching prospect creates an interesting dynamic with Austin Hedges that could lead to one of the two being traded this offseason.
- Luis Torrens just finished his second season in the organization after being selected in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft. The 22-year-old is a solid defender, hit .280 with 36 doubles and will get to work with plenty of the Padres top pitching prospects as he ascends through the minors. At the very least, he is a low-cost, known-commodity who can temporarily fill in at the MLB-level in the event of injuries.
- Raffy Lopez turns 31 next month and was a depth signing before the season. He will likely lose his roster spot if/when the Padres choose to protect Double-A catching prospect Austin Allen.
- 2B Luis Urias is the assumed starting second baseman. Defensively, he looked as good as advertised with fluid, athletic movements in all directions and plenty of arm strength for the keystone. Offensively, the results weren’t what he would have liked—.208 AVG, .264 OBP—but it’s hard to take too much from only 53 PA.
- 3B/UT Christian Villanueva turned an extreme platoon split and flyball-heavy, pull-happy approach into 20 dingers in only 384 PA—the most ever by a Mexican-born rookie. That power masked a slightly-below average 86.5 mph exit velocity, and an undesirably high 23.4% soft-contact rate. His 197 wRC+ vs RHP was third-best in all of baseball, while his 59 wRC+ vs LHP ranked 367th (Min. 100 PA). At the hot corner, his defense was shaky, but visibly improving, before a season-ending injury paved the way for the Wil Myers experiment.
- SS Javy Guerra could find himself as the surprise Opening Day starter. Unless the Padres have pipe dreams of contention in 2019, it makes some sense to plug Guerra’s solid glove in at short, let him bat 8th and consider ANY offense a pleasant surprise. In theory, his left-handed bat, and ability to play second, short and third could make him a valuable utility player—especially, if the Padres feature right-handed hitters at those three positions. Of course, even his split against right-handers—.222 AVG since 2016—leaves plenty to be desired. If the Padres do seek out another veteran stopgap, then Guerra will be an easy cut.
- UT Allen Cordoba has only reached 250 PA once—268 PA in 2014—in six professional seasons. The 22-year-old, 2016 Rule 5 draft pick is coming off of two wasted seasons: In 2017, he was completely overmatched at the big league level; in 2018, he suffered a strangely severe and debilitating offseason concussion limiting him to 45 games at High-A, his first taste of full-season minor league action. His 41 wRC+ and 28.0 K% for the Storm, certainly won’t help him hold off the plethora of younger, more productive, or more highly-touted middle infield prospects that the Padres have in the pipeline.
- 2B Carlos Asuaje parlayed a respectable 2017 debut into an underwhelming 2018. He saw a massive drop in his BABIP—.346 to .243—leading to a near 30-point decrease in wRC+ (88 to 59). Though he walked more—8.2% to 11.0%—struck out less—22.2% to 21.1%—and improved his hard contact rate—28.7% to 35.4%—the issue seems to be an increase in fly balls—35.7% to 39.3%. Asuaje simply doesn’t have the power—.088 ISO, 4.1% HR/FB—to benefit from putting the ball in the air.
- UT Jose Pirela emerged from complete obscurity to be a productive hitter—120 wRC+—outfielder—9.5 UZR/100—and overall baseball player—2.0 WAR in 83 games last year. Sadly, the 28-year-old Venezuelan couldn’t hold up to a full season of major league action, producing -0.8 WAR in 146 games.
Outside of Luis Urias, which infielder has the most long-term value for the Padres?
This poll is closed
- RF Franmil Reyes exceeded all expectations in 2018. Last season, he led Padres minor leaguers in home runs, 25, and RBI, 102, but didn’t earn a spot on the 40-man roster. Lucky for the organization, the rest of baseball passed over the massive Dominican in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft. The power is undeniable—32 HR in 471 AB combined between Triple-A and MLB—but it’s his adjustments in the second half that should have Padres fans salivating. He nearly doubled his walk rate—5.7% to 10.0%—while striking out far less often—39.0% to 21.7%. All told, the 23-year-old rookie’s 152 wRC+ in 180 PA was 16th in all of baseball after the All-Star Break. There are obvious, long-term defensive concerns for a player of his size, and (lack of) speed, but, in the meantime, Reyes looks like the best hitter on the team.
- RF/LF Hunter Renfroe looks like a legitimate starter for a good team. Among outfielders with at least 400 PA, he ranked 7th in hard-contact-percentage (47.2%), 9th in isolated power (.256), 11th in slugging percentage (.504), and was tied for 17th in home runs (26). His most impressive adjustment came against Right-handed pitching: 33.5 K%, 64 wRC+ in 2017; 27.4 K%, 112 wRC+ in 2018. With his low average and OBP, and mediocre defense, he may never be a cornerstone 4+ WAR player, but, the power is real, and Renfroe showed enough adjustments this season to warrant a long look into the future.
- OF Franchy Cordero showed some improvements in 2018 before injuries ended his season. His 9.1 BB% was sixth on the team (min. 100 PA), while his 35.7K%—though dreadful—was nearly 10 points better than his 2017 mark. More importantly, Cordero showed the thunderous tools—29.2 ft/s sprint speed, 92.6 MPH Exit Velocity and 439 ft. Average Home Run distance—that led Frangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen to write: “God help Major-League Baseball if Franchy ever figures it out.”
- CF Manny Margot has been a consistent defender. Over the last two seasons he ranks seventh in defensive runs saved (17), tenth in defensive value (10.7), and 13th in UZR/150 (4.2) among centerfielders (min. 1000 Inn). Offensively, the Padres were intent on forcing his speed and contact ability into a top-of-the-order role. But, so far, the 24-year-old hasn’t made good on either of those tools. At the plate he’s struggled to a .300 OBP, while he’s only been successful on 28-of-45 stolen base attempts (62%).
What is the biggest concern among the Padres young outfielders?
This poll is closed
Margot’s Offensive Woes
Margot’s Baserunning Blunders
Renfroe’s Low Walk Rate
Cordero’s High Strikeout Rate
Seven Starting Pitchers:
- RHP Dinelson Lamet showed plenty as a rookie in 2017—139 K in 114.1 IP—to stay on the roster long enough to show whether or not his plus fastball (95.2 MPH average) survived Tommy John Surgery.
- LHP Eric Lauer finished strong in 2018, striking out 23 and posting a 1.33 ERA, in 20.1 IP across four September starts. Perhaps most exciting for Padres fans was what he did against the team’s most hated rival. In three starts against the Dodgers, Lauer was 3-0, allowing only two runs—both on solo home runs—in 19.1 IP. The 23-year-old should get plenty of chances to stick in the rotation next season.
- LHP Joey Lucchesi gave the Padres a lot to like this season. Among rookie starters, he was third in K:BB ratio (3.37), third in xFIP (3.45) and eighth in strikeout rate (26.5%). The only area in which Lucchesi really struggled was in the number of fly balls that went for home runs. His 20.4 HR/FB%, which was highest in the majors (min. 100 IP), explains why his ranking in FIP was so much lower—16th among rookies at 4.31.
- RHP Jacob Nix reached the bigs with only 16 starts in the upper minors to his name. In 42.1 IP for the Padres, he only struck out 21 and walked 13, meaning that, the vast majority of the time, balls were being put in play. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old surrendered a lot of hard contact (43.4%), and home runs (1.7 HR/9).
- RHP Walker Locket appeared in four games for the Padres after making 23 starts for the Triple-A Chihuahuas. He struggled mightily against major league hitters, striking out 12, walking 10, and allowing four homers in only 15.0 IP. Lockett has been passed by plenty of prospects since posting one of the Padres strongest minor league performances in 2016.
- RHP Brett Kennedy has always flown under the radar. He’s never been on MLB.com’s top-30 list of Padres Prospects, nor was he included in Fangraphs’ top-43 midseason list, even in the midst of a 10-0, 2.72 ERA campaign in Triple-A. His consistently solid, if unspectacular, minor league performances earned him a late season callup. Over six starts, the 24-year-old had 18 strikeouts against 12 walks and 6 homers in 26.2 IP.
- LHP Matt Strahm was the only Padres pitcher whose four pitch mix—fastball, slider, curveball, changeup—was rated positively across the board. Though he spent most of 2018 in the bullpen, the 26-year-old should get a long look as a starter in 2019 with a fully-recovered knee.
Which starting pitcher are you most excited to watch develop?
This poll is closed
Eight Relief Pitchers:
- LHP Jose Castillo was simply terrific in his first taste big league action. Among qualified rookie relievers, the 22-year-old ranked first in strikeout rate (34.7%), first in K%-BB% (26.7%), second in SIERA (2.53), third in WHIP (0.91), and sixth in FIP (2.64).
- RHP Robert Stock had the fourth-highest average fastball velocity (98.2 MPH) among rookie relievers. He managed a 2.50 ERA in 39.2 IP, though his minuscule 2.7 HR/FB% and 3.92 xFIP indicate there could be some regression if he doesn’t limit his fly ball rate.
- RHP Phil Maton’s 91 career relief appearances are third-most among Padres relievers—behind Stammen and Yates. The 25-year-old has been serviceable—4.12 FIP—but not dominant, the way some predicted based on his eye-catching fastball spin rate.
- LHP Brad Wieck only made five appearances for the Padres in 2018. But his size—6’9”—and performance—10 strikeouts, zero walks in 7.0 IP—gave fans plenty to get excited about.
- RHP Rowan Wick fizzled out in A-ball as a catcher-turned-outfielder for the Cardinals. It’s highly impressive to consider that he reached the majors only two years after his 2016 switch to full-time pitching. His 2018 performance was a mixed bag: At Double-A, he had walk issues—6.0 BB/9; at Triple-A, his strikeout rate dipped—8.7 K/9; at the Majors, he suffered from an obscene .414 BABIP in only 8.1 IP. Wick is still very much learning how to be a professional pitcher.
- RHP Colten Brewer was solid in his first full season at Triple-A: 11.8 K/9, 2.93 FIP in 48.0 IP. With the Padres, he was hit-or-mis. He was solid in eight appearances—8.1 IP, 9 K, 0.96 WHIP, 0 ER—but got roughed up in his other three—1.1 IP, 1 K, 7.50 WHIP, 6 ER.
- RHP Trey Wingenter was, as promised, a strikeout machine. He recorded 27 punchouts in 19.0 IP, thanks largely to a 98+ MPH heater and wipeout slider. His walk rate has ticked up at every level since Single-A, but, at 6’7” and 24-years-old, he has a lot for Darren Balsley and the rest of the coaches to work with.
- RHP Miguel Diaz has issued 5.5 walks per 9 innings in his young MLB career. But, largely due to his impressive 14.5 K/9, he still managed a 3.27 FIP in 18.2 IP in 2018. He’s 23-years-old with a heavy fastball—96 MPH average—and should get plenty of opportunity to carve out a role in 2019.
Of these relievers, who has the most long-term upside?
This poll is closed
The Padres have $33,650,000 committed to Hosmer, Myers, Stammen, Makita and Richard in 2019. That money is spent, whether or not those players are DFA’d. Throw in $13.2M for Phil Hughes and $3M for Jedd Gyorko and the Padres have $49,850,000 absolutely committed for next season.
MLB Trade Rumors estimates that, for the eight arbitration-eligible players, the Padres are looking at around $13,000,000. That’s if all of those players are retained. So, without adding established big leaguers—either through free agency or trades—the Padres are looking at a 25-man roster containing at least 12 pre-arbitration, near-MLB-minimum, players.
All in all the Padres should have a payroll around $70M in 2019, 30% of which will be going to Eric Hosmer:
- $33,650,000 to players already under contract
- $16.2M in retained contracts (Hughes, Gyorko)
- ~$13M in arbitration contracts
- ~$7M in pre-arbitration contracts
Even with Wil Myers’ contract surging upward in 2020, the Padres have many years of manageable payrolls ahead. It’s just unfortunate that neither of the team’s two biggest commitments—Myers or Hosmer—has shown himself to be a slam-dunk, for-sure star on the next great Padres team.
Chairman Ron Fowler recently put the kaibash on signing a big-name free agent this offseason. That means no Manny Machado, Bryce Harper or Clayton Kershaw (if he ops out of his current contract). But, the following Winter brings the possible availability of third basemen Anthony Rendon and Nolan Arenado, and lefty ace Chris Sale...Hopefully, a year from now, the consensus is that the Padres are just one or two players away from serious contention.