Even with the bitter December weather keeping the MLB lock-out in full effect, the Padres were able to acquire players in positions that struggled the most last year.
Although these deals aren’t yet official, it does line up the team as a whole so they are ready to get back to work at the end of this bitter affair.
Pitchers and Catchers Report
As I’ve mentioned in past articles (I know, you’re probably sick of it by now), the bullpen for San Diego is in a state of disarray with many upgrades needed. The good news here is that they just found a trio of relievers that alleviates some of the offseason pressure for A.J. Preller. Luis Garcia, Robert Suarez, and Nick Martinez were added at the beginning of December with the latter of the three signing a four-year/$20 million dollar deal with opt-outs in the first two years. Fresh talent like this is exactly what Bob Melvin can work with especially with these players improving their game overseas and on other MLB teams.
Martinez was a starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers from 2014-2017 before going overseas and reviving his career with the NPB’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. Reports have stated that his fastball velocity topped off at 94 mph, as well as his changeup, gained more effectiveness too. Last year, the Padres ranked 17th overall for pitching which isn’t necessarily bad but also far from what they should have been given the offseason they had in 2020. I believe that his experience as a starter and ability to also pitch out of the bullpen makes him a low-end sleeper in the free-agent market.
Another move that may come as a surprise was the acquisition of Jorge Alfaro from the Miami Marlins even though they have Victor Caratini and Austin Nola still on the active roster. I understand this addition, however, because Nola’s unfortunate ability to get hurt cost him the majority of the 2021 season and Caratini was only brought over in the Yu Darvish trade because that’s who the starting pitcher wanted to catch him. What Alfaro lacks in discipline and homerun power he makes up for with his ability to string together hits and get on base. In his three years with Miami, he managed to compile 206 hits in 800 at-bats which is an uptick from his previous three seasons in Philadelphia.
I don’t see Alfaro becoming a star catcher on this team but again, he provides more depth behind Nola because Caratini has shown that he is not the next man up. While covering for Nola last season he did manage to catch Joe Musgrove’s no-hitter and collect 71 hits on the campaign but his numbers haven’t been consistent enough to warrant a starting gig. Plus, at some, point one of those three will be sent down to Triple-A since they most likely will not carry three catchers at the pro level. Either way, more veteran experience is what manager Bob Melvin will need if he wishes to turn this ship around when 2022 arrives.
Not Official Just Yet
Just like many of you reading this, I’d love to see these guys show up on the roster already but unfortunately, that move is unknown right now. These guys may have finalized a deal with the club but because the lock-out rules state that teams are not allowed to sign new players during this timeframe, they can not legally join the team until after this argument is over. Regardless, players are allowed to work out and spend time together outside of clubhouse amenities which is a great way to get to know one another and bond outside of the usual workplace.
A.J. Preller’s move to get rid of All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier last month was a smart one because he ended up saving $7 million in cap space which will most likely be put towards obtaining more free agents. Something else to note is that Martinez most likely came to San Diego because he and Preller met when both of them were a part of the Rangers in 2014. In an offseason that could be done or die for Preller come 2023, this move was indeed a respectable one for the club and hopefully one that continues to allow them the resources needed to enhance what we all know should be a championship team.
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