The San Diego Padres are not unlike the Mariners in that you always have to keep them in mind during transaction season. Padres General Manager A.J. Preller, like Jerry Dipoto, just loves making moves and those moves send out ripples of rumors throughout the league.
For example …
- Even after signing Ian Kinsler to a 2-year, $8M contract earlier today, the Padres are not stopping their search for a starting-caliber third baseman to add to the infield. The plan, apparently, is to start the 21-year-old Luis Urias (MLB Pipeline’s #27 overall prospect) at short and Kinsler at second until Fernando Tatis Jr. (MLB Pipeline’s #2 overall prospect) is ready to come up. At that point, Kinsler will back up whomever the new third baseman is, as well as the two youngsters up the middle. Having a veteran like Kinsler around to help steer that young, but talented infield will probably prove quite wise.
- The Padres have also begun to flash some interest in free agent starter Dallas Keuchel. Dennis Lin hedges his report, however, by explaining how Keuchel’s current asking price is prohibitively high (not just for the Padres, but most teams) and that his market is expected to last deep into the winter.
- The White Sox appear to be on the verge of signing James McCann to a one-year deal earlier today (not officially announced yet, but seems to be done) and that’s fairly interesting, because it comes just two days after Bruce Levine mentioned that the Cubs and Sox were meeting with agents on catchers during the Winter Meetings. Perhaps the Cubs were also looking at McCann or perhaps this is a sign that the back-up catcher market is about to loosen up a bit. Like their rumored interest in Daniel Descalso, the Cubs backup catcher won’t be a sexy addition, but it’ll probably be a much-needed one.
- According to Andy Martino, the Mets were choosing between Jeurys Familia and Andrew Miller, to one extent or another, but went with the former thanks to concerns over Miller’s durability. That’s a bit of a weird line of thinking, given that Miller is a 33-year-old, 6-foot-7, left-handed, strikeout artist, while Familia is a 29-year-old, 6-4, right-handed contact manager. The lesson here for Cubs fans is easy to understand: Miller used to be very good, but there are concerns about durability and effectiveness in the soon-to-be twilight of his career.
- Jerry Crasnick has heard the Milwaukee Brewers could become players for J.T. Realmuto, suggesting that they were interested at the trade deadline and have reengaged this winter. We hadn’t heard much about them in this particular offseason, but such a bold move wouldn’t surprise me. Plus, the Brewers and Marlins were able to get together on a big deal for Christian Yelich last season, so both sides probably know each other’s system (and preferences) quite well.
- With that said, the same MLB executive who fed him that info suggested that the Dodgers and Padres could both be good fits, as well, because of their catching prospects (Keibert Ruiz in LA and Francisco Mejia in San Diego). We know the Marlins have been anxious to land a catcher in return for Realmuto, perhaps one younger, cheaper, and under control for much longer, so this does add up a bit. Plus, the Padres and Dodgers minor-league systems are relatively stacked.
- And finally, the San Francisco Giants are apparently interested in Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar, despite the presence of center fielder Steven Duggar, because they are “intrigued by the idea of occasionally playing two center fielders at the same time in their massive ballpark” starting one guy in right field. One Giants’ source even went as far as to say “Right field at our place is just as hard as playing center field.”
- Now, obviously it’s pretty easy to connect the dots to Jason Heyward, who can play center adequately and right field exceptionally (and whom the Cubs should arguably be interested in moving for salary relief), but I don’t know if we can go that far just yet. For one, the Giants are apparently looking for a righty to pair with the left-handed Duggar. And for another, Heyward’s defense in right field is excellent, but Pillar is arguably one of the top defenders in all of baseball. And finally, while Pillar and Heyward are both around the same age, Pillar is under control for just two more seasons via arbitration ($5.3M projected 2019 salary), where as Heyward is under control for five more seasons and due a total of $106M during that stretch. This is not an apples-to-apples thing, but it could be something interesting to keep an eye on. The Giants do have plenty of money, so maybe there’s something to be worked out (or maybe Albert Almora, a right-handed, defense-first center fielder, catches their eye at some point, too).