Padres break mold with roster selections

Padres break mold with roster selections

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Say this about the Padres' Opening Day roster: It's certainly unique.

The Friars kept more catchers than primary outfielders. They kept all three of their selections from December's Rule 5 Draft. And they'll enter the season with one of the most versatile utility men in baseball history.

Here's a look at how the squad was trimmed to 25 this spring.

Catcher (4): Austin Hedges, Christian Bethancourt, Hector Sanchez, Luis Torrens

It's no gimmick that the Padres kept four catchers on their Opening Day roster. All four serve a different purpose, with Sanchez as the likeliest primary backup for Hedges.

"With Torrens on the bench, you're at liberty to use [Sanchez] in any crucial pinch-hit situation," said Padres manager Andy Green. "You're at liberty to catch him when Hedges needs a day down. You can play those matchups a little bit more effectively."

Bethancourt will continue in his ultra-utility role as a catcher/pitcher/outfielder/pinch-hitter. And the Padres liked the upside of Torrens, a 20-year-old Rule 5 pick, too much to let him walk.

Green discusses Torrens' upside

Infield (6): Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte, Ryan Schimpf, Erick Aybar, Luis Sardinas, Allen Cordoba

The Padres' decision to option Cory Spangenberg to Triple-A qualified as one of the most surprising cuts in the Majors this weekend. Spangenberg, who missed 5 1/2 months last season with a torn left quad, lost out to Schimpf for the starting third-base job.

"We put more value on him playing every day," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said of Spangenberg. "Ultimately, the decision for us was: Rather than see him as a part-time, two- or three-day option at the big league level, we felt like, 'Hey, go down, play every day and get some of those at-bats that he missed last year.'"

Spangenberg's Minor League options also played a role in the team's decision. Neither Sardinas (out of options) nor Cordoba (Rule 5 Draft) could be sent to the Minors. They will serve as utility men, with Myers, Solarte, Aybar and Schimpf as Opening Day starters.

Outfield (3): Hunter Renfroe, Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot

Left fielder Alex Dickerson will open the season on the disabled list, which could've cleared space for either Jabari Blash or Collin Cowgill. The Padres opted to carry Sanchez instead, with Cordoba serving as the backup outfielder.

Renfroe and Jankowski were already secure entering the final phase of roster trimming. Meanwhile, Margot, the club's top prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, saw his battle with Blash and Cowgill go down to the wire. Margot will open the season as the Padres' starting center fielder, with Jankowski shifting to left.

"We're running out there with three everyday outfielders," Green said. "... It's got the potential to be [the best defensive outfield in baseball]."

Rotation (5): Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, Jered Weaver, Luis Perdomo

The Padres entered camp with arguably the Majors' most wide-open rotation race. They decided on the first three spots relatively quickly -- Chacin, Richard and Weaver.

The last two places came down to the final week. Along the way, the Padres released Paul Clemens, designated Cesar Vargas, optioned Tyrell Jenkins and placed Christian Friedrich on the disabled list. That left Perdomo and Cahill to beat out Jarred Cosart, who will open the year in the 'pen.

Green on roster cuts, Friedrich

Bullpen (7): Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter, Brandon Maurer, Craig Stammen, Cosart, Miguel Diaz, Jose Torres

Hand, Buchter and Maurer had all secured their places well before Spring Training began. Stammen earned his. With Bethancourt destined to serve as the eighth reliever, that left two places up for grabs.

As a Rule 5 selection, Miguel Diaz was always a strong favorite for one of them. His 2.25 Cactus League ERA didn't hurt.

The final spot would've belonged to Carter Capps, but the hard-throwing right-hander will begin the year on the disabled list. (He's eyeing a mid-April return from Tommy John surgery, and even made two appearances last week.) With Capps still sidelined, Torres beat out Phil Maton and Kevin Quackenbush for the last spot.

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.