The Padres had a club record $90.1 million payroll last season, but the team currently projects to be around $89 million for 2015 even after a very active offseason from new general manager A.J. Preller. Part of this is because the Dodgers are paying the great majority of Matt Kemp’s salary for this season. However, they might not be done making moves.
Team chairman Ron Fowler recently indicated to Dennis Lin of UT-San Diego that Preller still has some wiggle room with his budget, which could push the payroll over $100 million:
In an email to the U-T, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler confirmed a general payroll range for 2015: It will open above last season’s figure and could top out at a little more than $100 million.
Fowler added an important disclaimer: “However, with A.J. in the GM seat, things could change quickly. He continues to look at options to strengthen the team.”
First-year general manager A.J. Preller has landed an unprecedented haul of right-handed power, remaking baseball’s worst offense while keeping the pitching staff largely intact. Yet his most resourceful maneuvering occurred within the financial parameters of those deals; as of Feb. 5, the Padres’ payroll projects to open at roughly $89 million, a tick under the 2014 figure. (If a trade partner is found for Carlos Quentin, the club could trim a couple million or so.)
As for what could push the Padres over $100 million, many have begun to consider them the favorites to land free agent right-hander James Shields. They have also expressed interest in a trade for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. One non-pitcher possibility is Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, who Preller recently scouted while in the Dominican Republic.
Clint Barmes signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Padres on December 3, just before Padres GM A.J. Preller completely overhauled the roster. Here’s a look at what happened in San Diego after he signed, per MLB.com’s transactions page:
- December 18: Padres acquire outfielder Matt Kemp in a trade with the Dodgers, and catcher Derek Norris in a trade with the Athletics
- December 19: Padres acquire outfielder Justin Upton in a trade with the Braves, outfielder Wil Myers in a trade with the Rays, and sign free agent pitcher Brandon Morrow
- December 20: Padres acquire third baseman Will Middlebrooks in a trade with the Red Sox
- December 29: Padres acquire pitcher Shawn Kelley in a trade with the Yankees
- December 30: Padres acquire pitcher Brandon Maurer in a trade with the Mariners
- January 7: Padres sign free agent pitcher Josh Johnson
Barmes was aware the Padres were looking to improve, but not like that. Via MLB.com’s Thomas Harding:
“Being one of the earlier guys to sign over there, you hear from the GM that they’re going to try to make these trades and sign these guys,” Barmes said Saturday before working with a large group of boys and girls from Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska at the Clint Barmes Top of the Nation Baseball Clinic in Greeley, Colo. “It happens every year. You hear a lot of that. But to have a guy do what he’s done has been pretty impressive.
“My agent said they were focusing on making some changes and bringing guys in. It’s definitely going to be exciting.”
As Harding says, Barmes joined the Padres before it was cool.
Barmes, 36 in March, will serve in a back-up role for the Padres. He hit a meager .245/.328/.294 in 116 plate appearances last season with the Pirates, but provides versatility with his ability to play any position in the infield.
MLB.coms’ Joe Frisaro reports that the Marlins are searching for a fourth outfielder, ideally one who bats from the left side. Coincidentally, they have four main targets: Ichiro Suzuki, Nate Schierholtz, Andy Dirks, and Will Venable.
Suzuki, Schierholtz, and Dirks are free agents. Venable, 32, can become a free agent after the season. He has lost his spot in the Padres’ outfield after they traded for Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp.
The Orioles have been linked in recent weeks to free agents Colby Rasmus, Norichika Aoki, and Ichiro Suzuki. But trading for a new outfielder is another route being explored by the Baltimore front office.
According to MASN’s Roch Kubatko, the Orioles “have engaged in trade talks with the Dodgers” regarding Andre Ethier. Los Angeles has already traded Matt Kemp this offseason — which helped chip away at the club’s outfield logjam — but it’s a safe guess that Ethier is still very much available.
Ethier, 32, batted just .249 with a .691 OPS and four home runs in 130 games last season for the Dodgers. He’s owed $56 million over the next three years and carries a $17.5 million vesting option for 2018.
Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson, and Yasiel Puig should be the Dodgers’ starting outfielders in 2015.
What did a breakout season in which he posted a .807 OPS earn outfielder Seth Smith? A ticket out of San Diego. The Padres completely revamped their outfield, trading for Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton in rapid-fire succession, relegating Smith — and Cameron Maybin and Will Venable — to the bench.
It was obvious that the Padres would have to trade some of their surplus outfield depth, and Smith knew that. The 32-year-old told Bob Dutton of The News Tribune he was paying attention to everything the Padres were doing and “put two and two together”, so the trade with the Mariners was no surprise. The Padres received right-hander Brandon Maurer in exchange.
In Seattle, Smith will likely platoon with Justin Ruggiano in right field. Smith took 455 of 521 plate appearances against right-handed pitching with the Padres last season, which helps explain his productive year.