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Padres Mailbag: on Franchy Cordero, the 2020 rotation and favorite Padres memories

You asked. We answered.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres just took two of three from the playoff-contending Philadelphia Phillies, so this mailbag is being written in good spirits. In case you care about my spirits, which you probably don’t. So let’s just start.

If Tatis has been shut down, should Paddack also be? - @LorenSethC on Twitter

The short answer to this question is yes. Paddack absolutely should, and will, be shut down before the Padres conclude their season in Phoenix on September 29. But when will it happen? That’s the real question. Paddack is currently at 115.0 innings. He said in Spring Training that his goal for the season was 150. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune said on August 9 that he “has 40 innings left in him.” On August 9, he was sitting at 113.1 innings. So, again, that puts his expected limit right at about 150.

If you take his average innings per outing - about 5 12 - and extrapolate that out until you get to 150, he should have about six starts left. That’ll last him until about early-to-mid September before he would theoretically be done for the year.

Now, just because he can throw up to 150 innings doesn’t necessarily mean he should. He’s struggled recently, and the team isn’t going to be sniffing the postseason. It stands to reason that the organization would rather save those bullets for next year rather than waste them in meaningless August and September games this year. Quite honestly, this is the route I think they’ll take. It seems like he’ll max out at the 130-ish mark, then start fresh next season on what should hopefully be a contending team.

So what have you heard about when Franchy Cordero is coming back? I haven’t given up hope on him turning into a player. - “Akat” in the comments

The last real update we got on Franchy was on August 8, when Andy Green said he was targeting a mid-September return. He supposedly was running the bases at Petco Park on August 10, which would suggest he’s making significant progress in his rehabilitation efforts and might be cleared to return this season.

However, mid-September would only give him a few weeks, on an expanded roster, to get his legs under him before the season ends. There could be value in getting some live, game action before the team disperses for the offseason, but that would be creating a pretty high-risk, low-reward scenario with a player as injury prone as Cordero.

There’s also this: the Dominican Winter League starts in the middle of October. Franchy played in the LIDOM last winter, and it could be a good opportunity to get competitive reps while also resting his quadriceps for an additional few weeks. To me, this is the best option. Naylor, Myers, Renfroe, Jankowski and Margot are all vying for outfield reps right now, plus whoever might come up once September call-ups are made. If he’s not going to get consistent at-bats, there’s no reason to push it. Plus, it gives me another reason to watch the Dominican Winter League, which plays an infinitely better style of baseball than MLB. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it before, watch it this winter. It’s amazing.

What do you think is the outfield of the future? Do Jankowski or Cordero factor into the plans, or do Oliveras and Trammell bump them out? - “Ritterburg” in the comments

First, we need to define what time frame “outfield of the future” is referring to. To me, this means 2020, because we’ve been told for so long that that’s the year when the team really starts competing for postseason contention and beyond. For 2020, I’d expect it to look pretty similar to what it looks like right now.

Myers will probably be in left unless an inexplicable trade suitor emerges from the ashes. Margot has played well enough in the second half to lock down his everyday spot in center. He’s currently getting on base at a career-high .323 clip, and that’s including his dreadful first half. He also has the pop to hit 20 homers per year if he stays healthy, and will always bring plus-plus defense in one of the most important defensive positions on the field. In right, I want to say Renfroe. But I hesitate because 1) Josh Naylor has swung the bat very well since being recalled, 2) Renfroe has not, and 3) I’m not convinced that he doesn’t get traded this offseason. The pursuit of a top-line starting pitcher will presumably ramp back up, and Renfroe is a name that’s sure to come up in most trade talks. If Preller finds a deal he likes, I find it hard to believe that Renfroe is going to hold up such a deal.

Then there’s Naylor, Jankowski, the aforementioned Cordero, and minor-league guys who will most likely make their major-league debuts sometime in 2020 in Edward Oliveras and Taylor Trammell.

Naylor is a DH. He’s really bad defensively. But he’s showed a disciplined approach at the plate in inconsistent at-bats in 2019 that, when supplemented by his power, provides a pretty valuable offensive profile. He hits lefties very well for a left-handed hitter, so if he improves on defense, he could easily pry the right-field job away from Renfroe. Left field is also an option here if something goes south with Myers. So, too, is a trade. Jankowski isn’t a starter on a good team. He profiles as a fourth outfielder that brings speed, defense and OBP off the bench, which is actually something that the Padres really need moving forward. He also doesn’t have much trade value, so I don’t hate the idea of keeping Jankowski in that role moving forward. But he needs to stay healthy first. Same goes for Cordero, only he is far worse defensively and is the owner of some nasty righty-lefty splits. That suggests a platoon, but with so many outfielders already in the fold, he emerges as a trade candidate for a team that would covet his incredible raw tools.

Edward Olivares has torn up Double-A Amarillo this season to the tune of a .290/.357/.467 slash line with 17 bombs and 31 stolen bases. He’s elevated his prospect profile more than arguably anyone in the Padres system in 2019, and he’ll definitely get a shot in the bigs in 2020. Is he a full-time starter in 2020? Probably not. But if he takes advantage of the at-bats he’s given, he could be a real piece in 2021 and beyond. Trammell will also probably be up in mid-to-late 2020, and once that happens, he’ll surely be given everyday chances. Due to his weak arm, his future is most likely in left field, but with Myers having faded in the last two years or so, the job should theoretically be his for the taking if he wants it.

2021 is too far out to responsibly predict, but keep an eye on both CJ Abrams and Xavier Edwards. Abrams is playing shortstop in Class-A Fort Wayne and Edwards has played both shortstop and second base in High-A Lake Elsinore, but they both profile well as center fielders moving forward. Both have elite bat-to-ball skills and top-end speed, and have produced well at their respective minor league stops, so stay tuned on this one.

What does our starting rotation look like on Opening Day, and what does it look like at the end of the year assuming we make the playoffs? - “San_Diegan_in_a_Strange_Land” in the comments

The locks for Opening Day, right now, are Paddack and absolutely nobody else. Garrett Richards, if healthy, probably gets a spot. He recently left a rehab start early with shoulder tightness, but still appears on track to possibly pitch in San Diego this year. His stuff would play very well out of the bullpen, especially returning from Tommy John, but much like Strahm this year, he’ll probably get a shot in the rotation until he proves otherwise. Cal Quantrill has gone from afterthought to likely rotation-spot owner in a very short period of time. He’s been the best starter for the Padres for an extended period of time now, and barring any drastic regression, will most likely have a spot. Dinelson Lamet has also pitched relatively well, but his inefficiency points toward a future in the bullpen with other high-ceiling guys coming in the near future. The other in-house, major-league options - Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer - are no more than backup plans at this point. On a good team, they’re fifth starters at best, so if that need is there, one of them will get that role. Otherwise, I just don’t see it. Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez could also be options, but right now it seems likely that they’re headed for the ‘pen long-term.

In the minors, two guys stand out immediately that will push hard for a spot in 2020: MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño. Both have ETAs of 2021 on MLB Pipeline, but considering their performances in 2019 and the Padres’ organizational tendency to push highly touted prospects to the majors sooner rather than later (see Tatis Jr. and Paddack this year), I fully expect them to be a factor. Opening Day might be a stretch, but MacKenzie Gore starting a Wild Card game in 2020 is something I can absolutely see happening.

Then there are the outside options, via either trade or free-agent signing. There will still probably be a market for Noah Syndergaard in the offseason, and it’s clear the Padres covet him to some degree. That would make sense trade-wise. A lot of the same names you heard floated at the trade deadline will probably resurface in the offseason. As for free agents, it’s really Gerrit Cole or bust. Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner and Stephen Strasburg (if he opts out) will all be available, but those will all be arms entering age-30-or-higher seasons while still commanding relatively large contracts. Cole, on the other hand, is 28 years old and has been nothing short of an absolute superstar for the last two seasons. There’ll be a ton of teams in on him at probably $30M per year, but if he shows interest in San Diego, this is a signing you make. He’s from Southern California (if that usually doesn’t) and the Padres should have money to spend. Whether it comes via trade or free agency, I really do think Preller makes a splash in this department in the offseason.

Here are my official 2020 rotation predictions:

Opening Day:

1) [insert offseason acquisition here]

2) Paddack

3) Quantrill

4) Richards

5) Lucchesi

End of the season:

1) [insert offseason acquisition here]

2) Gore

3) Paddack

4) Patiño

5) Quantrill

What’s your favorite random memory as a Padre fan, non-playoff edition? As in, not the team clinching a playoff or World Series spot, but like bumping into Player X one day, or something like that. - also “San_Diegan_in_a_Strange_Land” in the comments

I have two. One good, one bad.

Let’s start with the good first. I was really young, probably five or six. I was at an ice cream place called Carvel, which has since been replaced by like 54 different businesses in the same building in Rancho Peñasquitos. I was waiting for my (mediocre) ice cream when I looked to my right and saw Mark Loretta in the shop with his son. I was kind of freaking out because I worshipped every player on those Padres teams back in the day, and I had never met a major-league player before. I didn’t have anything for him to sign, so I grabbed a sticky napkin with ice cream residue on it and nervously asked Mark to sign it. He was super nice about it and wrote me a personalized message on that gross napkin, and I still have it to this day. So, Mark Loretta, if you’re somehow reading this, shoutout to you. Very underrated Padre and even more underrated signer of dirty napkins.

The bad one involves my favorite player growing up, Khalil Greene. I was at Spring Training, probably a couple years later. I was again hunting autographs, only this time Khalil not-so-subtly faked a phone call right as he walked past me as to avoid signing an autograph. I now know that Khalil was dealing with anxiety problems at the time, so I in no way resent him for it, but as a kid that sucked big time. I was legitimately anti-Khalil Greene for a few weeks after that, but he eventually won me back over with what I would imagine was some ridiculous defensive play or three. Also, he taught me the fake-phone-call trick, which I’ve definitely utilized from time to time. So actually, now that I really think about it, this was a good encounter, too.