Gregory Polanco was always a long shot to make the Pirates out of spring training and today the team officially ruled him out, optioning the 22-year-old top prospect to the minors among the latest batch of roster cuts.
Polanco was impressive in camp, but has just 70 games of experience above Single-A and wasn’t especially productive at Double-A last season. He’s expected to begin this year at Triple-A, where he’ll play right field and try to convince the Pirates he’s ready for a midseason call-up.
In the meantime the Pirates will likely go with a Jose Tabata-Travis Snider timeshare in right field, alongside Starling Marte in left field and Andrew McCutchen in center field. Tabata is actually only three years older than Polanco and has shown that he can be a solid all-around player, but whenever Polanco is deemed ready there won’t be much blocking his path to Pittsburgh.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.