Last time, we looked at priority one for the Padres in the 2014-15 offseason: go after Cuban defectors Yasmani Tomas and Jose Fernandez.
Today, let’s look at option #2:
2. Get A New First Baseman. This might be a tall order. Also, some are not yet ready to jettison Yonder Alonso, in spite of his recent history.
Certainly, anything can happen. And it is true that prior to his season-ending injury, Alonso was starting to resemble his ’12 version, when he swatted 39 doubles as a rookie. Even still, his wrist was injured for the second year in a row, which is a very troubling sign. Also, there is just no way around it: Alonso was terrible last year. Through the end of June he batted an unsightly .213, and before the All-Star break, his OPS was .591.
This is just one year after he had just one extra-base hit in the second half of the ’13 season.
While it appears that Black and Preller are willing to invite him back to spring training, it should be obvious that he is not the long-term answer. If anything, his injuries and poor play have relegated him to Plan B status.
But then, who should they try to acquire?
There are a few free agents, including Michael Cuddyer, Michael Morse, Corey Hart, Adam LaRoche, Adam Lind, Victor Martinez, and Kendrys Morales. Of these options…
-Cuddyer, who might be the best fit since he can also play in the outfield, will likely re-sign with Colorado;
-Morse has not been the same since his breakthrough 2011 season (31 homers), although he might not be a bad place-holder while minor leaguer Alex Dickerson develops;
-LaRoche and Martinez will likely command richer contracts than the Padres are willing to pay;
-Lind missed significant playing time with injuries last year. But assuming that Toronto either declines his option or tries to trade him (and they do need pitching, something the Padres have), he could be an intriguing option.
-Morales would be a risk, especially since he batted just .218 with eight home runs in an injury-plagued season. However, he batted in the .270s with over 20 homers in both 2012 and ’13.
Or, they can make a trade. Perhaps Chris Davis, one year removed from a 50-homer campaign, could be available as a sell-low option. Anaheim’s C.J. Cron and Boston’s Allen Craig are other possibilities.
Bottom line: unless you have stellar offense elsewhere and so can afford to have a Mark Grace/Keith Hernandez-type first baseman, offensive production at this position is a must-have. Such is the case with the Padres.