Young Padres won't be pressed to add veterans

Friars would like to complement rising stars with experienced players, but will be selective

Young Padres won't be pressed to add veterans

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With one of the youngest rosters in baseball, it's no secret that entering the 2017 season, the Padres are in the market for a few veterans to help stabilize their clubhouse.

But don't expect general manager A.J. Preller to sign veterans simply for the sake of doing so.

Speaking at the General Managers Meetings here on Tuesday, Preller made it clear he's willing to go into the 2017 season with a very young roster if need be. In other words, Preller will be looking at a lot more than service time when he's evaluating some of the more experienced players available.

"It's got to be the right fit with the veteran guys," Preller said. "To have a veteran guy just to say, 'Hey, we need somebody who has 10 years of experience' ... no, it's got to be the right piece.

"The one thing [manager] Andy [Green] and the coaching staff have made apparent to me is that they want talent. They want to develop some guys at the big league level. They understand that that's probably going to be the direction that gets us into a winning environment -- is to find out about some of these guys."

As it stands, the oldest player on the Padres' 40-man roster is Brett Wallace, who turned 30 in August. Twenty-one of the Friars' 39 current players were born in 1990 or later.

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The Padres are open to the possibility of bringing back 31-year-old outfielder Jon Jay and 33-year-old starters Edwin Jackson and Clayton Richard. Among San Diego's six free agents, Jay is the biggest priority, given his value against both left- and right-handed pitching and his ability to play all three outfield spots.

Jay hits a triple to right

But Jay figures to have offers from other clubs, and the Padres' outfield is already crowded with budding talent. Top hitting prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot debuted at the end of the 2016 season, joining Alex Dickerson and Travis Jankowski in a very young outfield.

"Jon, he brings a lot of positives to the table," Preller said. "He's going to have a lot of interest from other clubs as well. You've got to weigh that out, because you don't want to take away [playing time] from some of the guys. ... But Jon's a guy that we're interested in bringing back. That's going to be the big question for us. How do you balance that out?"

Preller is getting hits from several teams on his young outfielders. But it's unclear who the Padres would be willing to part with -- if any of them.

The Friars also have room for at least two starters in their rotation mix. Ideally, they'd like to find a proven leader who could work with some of their younger arms such as Luis Perdomo and Cesar Vargas.

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But, as Preller noted, that leader doesn't necessarily need 10 big league seasons under his belt.

"The best component is just guys that have good makeup, guys that want to work, guys that are in it for the team, guys that are not selfish," Preller said. "Guys that have those things and have been through some experiences that they can help these other guys draw from -- that's the best of everything.

"But ultimately, the guys that are wired the right way, those are the guys you want in your clubhouse."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.