The San Diego Padres are aiming to bounce back from a disappointing 2021, which was fueled by an attention-grabbing offseason (e.g. acquiring Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove). There are two parts to the Padres fulfilling that aspiration: 1) bounce-back seasons from a handful of pivotal players and 2) president A.J. Preller making savvy free agent signings.
San Diego was relatively active prior to the MLB lockout. The team signed reliever Luis Garcia, acquired catcher Jorge Alfaro from the Miami Marlins and rerouted infielder Adam Frazier to the Seattle Mariners after acquiring him at last season’s MLB trade deadline. All that said, there’s more to be done for the 2022 club.
Here are two players the Padres should sign after the MLB lockout.
Corey Dickerson gives the San Diego Padres outfield depth
Outfield production was a weakness for the 2021 Padres, and it’s a group that still needs bolstering. Dickerson fits the bill.
The 32-year-old Dickerson has always been a player who has fallen through the cracks. He’s a steady contact hitter who has been a considerable slugging threat in recent memory. All the while, he’s a reliable defensive left fielder. That combination works for the Padres, as they’re at least in search of a left fielder with Tommy Pham a free agent.
Jurickson Profar is a capable left fielder who has started at said position for the Padres. If they’re going to make headway in the National League, though, Profar is best suited in a versatile, multi-positional role given his recent offensive inconsistency. Profar can start a couple times a week and be a late-game defensive switch. Dickerson is an upgrade at the corner outfield position.
- Corey Dickerson stats (2021): .271/.326/.408, six home runs and 29 RBIs across 336 at-bats
As for his would-be outfield comrades, Trent Grisham has flashed potential in the past. Still 25, Grisham is capable of being a line-drive slugging threat who wreaks havoc on the basepaths and plays center field at a high level. The veteran Wil Myers provides plausible pop from the right side and is adept at playing all three outfield positions.
The Padres need outfield depth. Prospects like Robert Hassell III and Joshua Mears could be at least 16 months away from the big leagues, and the Padres are already hoping they get better offensive seasons from Grisham and Myers.
Dickerson gives new manager Bob Melvin his starting left fielder, a proven commodity and someone who improves the Padres in multiple facets.
Ian Kennedy becomes the San Diego Padres’ new closer
Mark Melancon, the Padres’ 2021 closer, was an All-Star and one of the best relievers in the sport last season. He is now a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Daniel Hudson, who was acquired at last season’s MLB trade deadline from the Washington Nationals for relief prospect Mason Thompson, is now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres need a new closer and/or relief help. Kennedy gives them precisely that.
Kennedy has become a smooth force in the late innings. He has found success as a primary closer with three teams since 2019 (Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals) while overwhelmingly relying on his fastball.
- Ian Kennedy stats (2021): 3.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 26 saves and 62 strikeouts across 56.1 innings (55 appearances)
Kennedy has logged strikeouts at a high rate, getting hitters to chase his fastball and occasionally pitched multiple innings with the Phillies. The ability to close and potentially get more than three outs adds a degree of versatility to Kennedy’s game.
Garcia was a plausible signing for the Padres, but his addition doesn’t solve the Padres’ relief problems. Heck, Garcia and Kennedy would merely replace Melancon and Hudson from a head count perspective. They need a handful of others to get their MLB careers back on track.
With Kennedy and Garcia theoretically in the fold, the Padres have a bullpen unit that’s capable of better performance. That unit includes the likes of Drew Pomeranz, Emilio Pagan, Craig Stammen, Pierce Johnson and Tim Hill.
The Padres are heavily banking on their highly talented starting pitchers performing at a high level next season (Snell and Darvish). While they hope for such a scenario to unfold, they need the other aspects of their ballclub to be sturdy forces. Kennedy helps the Padres’ bullpen provide a sense of relief for Melvin and friends.