The Off-Season Agenda, Part Five

I have been posting what I think the Padres should do this off-season to be a truly competitive team in 2015 and beyond. To review, the first four things they should do are:

1. Go Cuban (i.e., sign Yasmani Tomas and Jose Fernandez). Signing both–or even just one– would be a huge offensive boost.

2. Get a new first baseman. Sadly, sometimes talented ballplayers have their careers cut short by lingering injuries. Such seems to be the case with Yonder Alonso. After a promising rookie season in ’12, a recurring wrist injury has affected his play the last two years.

Sure, he could recover. But if the Padres want to compete, they need a first baseman who can produce now.

3. Trade Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit. Their values will never be higher than they are right now.

4. Lock up Tyson Ross. The guy is a budding ace. Do it now, or regret it later.

And number 5…

Pray that Hunter Renfroe and Rymer Liriano develop quickly.

Josh Byrnes’ tenure as Padres GM was mixed. At his best, he swiped Ross away from Oakland. At his worst, well, look at the Padres outfield (with the notable exception of Seth Smith): he was too eager to sign players to extensions when they should the slightest signs of productivity. But after signing Cameron Maybin to five years, Carlos Quentin to three years, and Will Venable to two years, they all flopped. Miserably.

This is why the Padres had the worst offensive outfield in Major League Baseball in 2014. How bad was it? The most productive member was Smith, who was third on the team with 12 home runs, third in RBI (48), and first in batting average (.266).

That’s not a knock on Smith, as his numbers were what you would expect from him. I just bring that up to reiterate: he was their best hitting outfielder last year.

As for the rest of the bunch, Will Venable was terrible, slashing .224/.288/.325 with career lows in home runs (eight) and stolen bases (11), after signing a two-year, $8.75 million extension.

Cameron Maybin slashed .235/.290/.331, with a mere 15 RBI in 95 games (251 at-bats). He also served a 25 game suspension due to PED use. There is still time for him to turn it around, and because he is guaranteed $15 million over the next two years, he will be afforded the opportunity to do so. But if the past three years are any indication, we shouldn’t expect much different than what we’ve already seen.

Carlos Quentin missed even more time than the two previous season, and that’s saying a lot. Last year, he batted .177 in 50 games with just four home runs. He is owed $8 million in 2015. The hope here is that he hits well enough in spring training and early in the season to garner interest from an AL team, where he can be a DH–the task he is best suited for.

The Padres have young talent in Renfroe and Liriano. But last year, both showed they are not ready for the big time: Renfroe struggled at AA, while Liriano was overmatched after being called up in August.

Bottom line: if they weren’t locked in to guaranteed contracts, Maybin, Venable, and Quentin would have been gone by now. They have little trade value, and frankly, the Padres might be better served by releasing at least one of them–the most likely one being Quentin. As with first base, the status quo in the outfield will not do.

Which makes it all the more imperative that they sign Yasmani Tomas. Or if not him, that they make a creative trade to bring in offense from somewhere else.

Stay tuned. We’ll let you know what happens.

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