Inbox: How will Padres rotation shake out?

Fans ask about Renfroe's position, Dickerson's playing time, Torrens' status

Inbox: How will Padres rotation shake out?

Entering the holidays, the Padres still have quite a few question marks on one of the youngest rosters in baseball.

Sure, they made some minor pitching moves last week. But the roster as currently comprised features a number of holes -- specifically in the rotation.

With that in mind, here's a look at some of the most pressing questions surrounding the Padres.

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What in the world will the rotation look like, and what are the chances Tyson Ross comes back?
-- Alex A.

Let's address the second part of this question, because it'll have an impact on the first part. The Padres are very open to bringing back Ross, who was non-tendered at the start of the month. And according to general manager A.J. Preller, there is "mutual interest" in a reunion.

I don't doubt that Ross is open to returning. He arrived in San Diego as a castoff and emerged into an All-Star under the tutelage of pitching coach Darren Balsley. That said, the Padres' decision to non-tender Ross opens him up to 29 other teams. In doing so, the Padres essentially said Ross wasn't worth the $9 million-$10 million he would've gotten in arbitration. Even though he's coming off surgery after a lost year, I'd guess there's a team out there willing to pay that price -- especially in the current pitching market.

Now, for the remainder of the rotation. Luis Perdomo, Christian Friedrich and Clayton Richard figure to be favorites entering camp. Newcomer Jhoulys Chacin is probably in the next tier, along with Jarred Cosart, Paul Clemens and Cesar Vargas. Prospects Walker Lockett and Dinelson Lamet have an outside chance right now, and don't be surprised if the Padres add another big league-caliber hurler to that competition.

Andy Green on Padres' rotation

If the Padres trade Travis Jankowski before the season, how capable is Hunter Renfroe defensively in center field until they call up Manuel Margot in May?
-- Adam S., Las Vegas

Is Renfroe capable of playing center field? Actually, yes. He did so in the Minors for 51 games and held his own. That said, it's pretty clear Hunter Renfroe will NOT be playing center field for the Padres in 2017.

If the Friars trade Jankowski, they'll proceed with two options. They can start the season with the 22-year-old Margot in center, meaning they'd lose an extra year of team control. Or they could sign a veteran outfielder to a one-year deal.

Of course, all of this is presuming the Padres deal Jankowski. And as it stands, they're more than happy with their current mix of outfielders -- in which Renfroe is most assuredly the club's right fielder of the future.

Padres rely on young outfielders

With only one trade in the books, does this indicate Preller is having a harder time making trades because of his suspension?
-- Matt

Sure, the Padres have been awfully quiet on the trade front this offseason. Preller's lone move saw Derek Norris head to Washington in exchange for pitching prospect Pedro Avila. With Austin Hedges set to emerge as San Diego's catcher of the future, a Norris deal was always imminent.

That said, nobody expected the Friars to be heavy actors on the trade market anyway. Having already dealt six key contributors before the Trade Deadline, San Diego always seemed content to move forward with its current mix of young talent. If a useful trade emerges, Preller won't hesitate. But the Padres aren't desperate to make a deal.

It's certainly fair to wonder what effect Preller's suspension had on his relationships with rival general managers. But a lack of trades this offseason -- when the Padres were never contenders to pull off a blockbuster -- doesn't tell us much.

Will Alex Dickerson be given adequate tutoring for backing up at first base, thus getting him more playing time to keep his bat in the lineup?
-- Carl S., Jamul, Calif.

Sure, the Padres like having Dickerson's bat in the lineup. But I'm not sure getting him reps at first base does that trick. Wil Myers played 150 games there last season, and Dickerson is still learning the intricacies of playing left field. Adding another position to his plate probably isn't fair to Dickerson -- especially if he'd only be playing a handful of games there.

I think it's far more likely the Padres use Yangervis Solarte as their backup at first base, with Ryan Schimpf shifting across the diamond to third when they do so. That would allow Dickerson to focus exclusively on left field, where he made significant strides defensively in 2016.

After sending Josh VanMeter to the Reds, are the Padres set on keeping Luis Torrens rostered as a third catcher?
-- Roy T., Citrus Heights, Calif.

That's exactly what I'd infer from the trade. The Padres dealt VanMeter to the Reds merely for the rights to the No. 2 pick in the Rule 5 Draft -- which became Torrens, baseball's No. 9 catching prospect.

VanMeter's ceiling isn't extremely high, but he could certainly develop into a Major League utility man one day. If the Padres don't keep Torrens on their Major League roster for the entire season, they will have lost VanMeter for nothing.

Padres active in Rule 5 Draft

Another key factor in Torrens' roster status is Christian Bethancourt's progression into a super-utility role. If Bethancourt can catch and play the outfield, that's one fewer spot needed for an outfielder on the 25-man roster. That would appear to clear room for a third catcher like Torrens -- although the Padres also need to find room for fellow Rule 5 selections Miguel Diaz and Allen Cordoba.

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.