SS, rotation likely focus of Padres' offseason

SS, rotation likely focus of Padres' offseason

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres enter the offseason with a combination of young Major Leaguers and prospects who they believe will shine in San Diego for the better part of the next decade.

With that in mind, don't expect a major offseason roster shakeup. But there are certainly a few areas that must be addressed before the start of the 2018 season.

Here's a breakdown of the offseason decisions awaiting general manager A.J. Preller.

Biggest needs

1. Shortstop
Shortstop has been atop the Padres' wish list for most of the past 10 offseasons. Erick Aybar served valiantly as a stopgap in 2017, but he's a free agent, and San Diego will almost certainly look to make an external acquisition. With No. 4 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. nearing the Majors, the Padres won't bet the farm in the trade market -- meaning once again, they'll be looking for an experienced veteran who can man the position in the short term.
Possible FA fits: Aybar, Alcides Escobar, Danny Espinosa, Eric Sogard

Padres' Top 30 Prospects

2. Starting pitching
Organizational pitching depth was one of the Padres' biggest weaknesses in 2017. They addressed that, in part, by signing Clayton Richard to a two-year extension. But otherwise, they simply have too many question marks within their rotation. Don't be surprised if the club makes a concerted effort to re-sign Jhoulys Chacin. And even then, they'd still be looking to add.
Possible FA fits: Chacin, Derek Holland, Jeremy Hellickson, Doug Fister, Jaime Garcia, Tyson Ross

3. Backup catcher
Rule 5 Draft rookie Luis Torrens served as backup catcher for most of the season. He'll almost certainly begin the 2018 campaign in the Minors. In that regard, San Diego still needs a primary backup for Austin Hedges.
Possible FA fits: Rene Rivera, A.J. Ellis, Nick Hundley, Jose Lobaton

Padres show growth in 2017

Gray areas

1. Bullpen
It's not hard to envision the Padres' relief corps returning mostly intact -- especially if pending free agent Craig Stammen opts to remain in San Diego. That said, Brad Hand will likely be at the forefront of the Padres' trade talks. If they deal Hand and lose Stammen, suddenly the back end of the bullpen looks extremely thin, which would necessitate at least a couple moves.

Hand earns save in shutout win

2. Second base/third base
There was a logjam last offseason at second and third base. Things have only gotten more cluttered there since the emergence of Carlos Asuaje and the rise of Luis Urias through the prospect ranks. Don't be surprised if the Padres look to deal one of their more proven options -- potentially Yangervis Solarte or Cory Spangenberg. Christian Villanueva, who raked at Triple-A, could also get a shot to make the roster next spring.


1. Alex Dickerson and Travis Jankowski
The Padres entered the season with plans to rotate four outfielders among three spots. By mid-April, two of those outfielders were sidelined -- Dickerson with a bulging disc in his back and Jankowski with a broken bone in his foot. If, as expected, both are healthy entering 2018, San Diego would have a glut of outfield depth. If they aren't, that puts an additional burden on youngsters like Hunter Renfroe and Franchy Cordero to take the next step.

Renfroe's 25th home run

2. Double-A rotation
How much more pitching depth do the Padres need? Well, that could be contingent upon the progress of some of their youngsters. Five of the club's top 15 prospects pitched for Double-A San Antonio this season. They aren't far off, and don't be surprised if a couple of them debut before the 2018 season ends.

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