4 areas of need for Padres with camp looming

4 areas of need for Padres with camp looming

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres aren't likely to make a major splash before Spring Training begins, general manager A.J. Preller said earlier this week.

But that doesn't mean they're a complete team entering camp. Far from it, in fact.

"We're still looking -- you're always looking from a pro scouting standpoint," Preller said. "But more or less, this is the group we're going to go in with."

On the surface, the Padres' roster features four areas of need that they'd like to bolster, should the opportunity present itself. Here's a ranking of the most pressing positions Preller and Co. might look to upgrade before the season begins.

4. Outfield
It's certainly not a necessity that the Padres add to their outfield mix before Opening Day. And San Diego probably wouldn't consider bringing an everyday starter on board. Such a move would only serve to steal playing time from the club's four young outfielders.

But there's an argument to be made that outfield depth should be a priority. At present, the Padres' plan is to divvy playing time relatively evenly between Alex Dickerson, Travis Jankowski, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot. But if any of those four get injured, San Diego's depth options -- namely Christian Bethancourt and Jabari Blash -- don't inspire a ton of confidence.

There are peripheral benefits to adding a backup outfielder as well, especially if he can man center field. It could potentially allow the Padres to give Margot a bit more seasoning at Triple-A El Paso -- which, in turn, could tack on another year of team control for such a highly touted prospect.

Blash's leaping catch

3. Bullpen
The Padres view the 'pen as one of their strengths entering camp, and it's easy to see why. If Carter Capps is healthy, they'll have a fairly formidable back end -- Capps and Brandon Maurer from the right side and Ryan Buchter and Brad Hand from the left side.

Then again, bullpens are easily the most volatile part of any roster from year to year. Say Capps hasn't fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and one of the other three struggles. Suddenly the late innings look very shaky. The Padres have a number of young arms -- namely Jose Torres, Dinelson Lamet and Phil Maton -- who could make an impact. But they're all unproven and can hardly be considered reliable at this point.

Torres escapes bases-loaded jam

Brandon Morrow, who signed with the Dodgers earlier this week after posting a 1.69 ERA in 18 appearances last season, would have been a nice fit. It certainly wouldn't hurt for San Diego to add a similar high-upside veteran to the relief corps -- potentially on a one-year deal as a candidate to be flipped at the Deadline.

Padres sign Chacin

2. Rotation
Having acquired Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill and Tyrell Jenkins this offseason, quantity is no longer an issue in the Padres' starting rotation. They have nine pitchers who could conceivably compete for five spots.

But the overall quality of the group remains to be seen. None of the nine options is a lock to make the Opening Day staff -- though Richard, Chacin and Luis Perdomo are safe bets. San Diego needs its starters to shoulder a bigger burden, after the nine hurlers on the roster combined to average 5.23 innings per start last season.

Already, the Padres have met their offseason goal of bringing three potential rotation pieces on board. But, as the adage says, there's no such thing as too much pitching -- especially in a rotation with as many question marks as this one.

1. Shortstop
For the better part of the past decade, shortstop been somewhere on this list -- often at the top.

San Diego is bullish on Luis Sardinas, who batted .287/.353/.417 after coming over from Seattle in a trade last August. But the Padres would still like to add someone else to compete for the starting job, preferably a high-upside youngster who could anchor the position for a few years.

"Realistically, [shortstop] will be something that we'll still be looking at in Spring Training, comparing what's out there, most likely via trade, versus what we have in-house," Preller said.

In-house, Sardinas is the only viable starting option. Prospects Allen Cordoba and Jose Rondon aren't ready yet, and Minor League free agent Dusty Coleman would likely serve in a backup capacity.

Expect San Diego to remain active on the trade market during Spring Training, with several shortstops available. If the Padres can swing a deal, it would fill their biggest need entering the 2017 season.

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.