We near the end of our MLB team previews with a young team on the rise. It's time for the 2017 San Diego Team Outlook. As part of RotoBaller's ongoing effort to help you win your leagues, we're previewing all 30 MLB teams.
In this article, we will examine the team's noteworthy offseason moves, hitting, pitching and prospects. RotoBaller has you covered for all your fantasy baseball needs.
Editor's note: for even more draft prep, visit our awesome 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It has lots of in-depth staff rankings and draft strategy columns. You will find tiered rankings for every position, 2017 impact rookie rankings, AL/NL only league ranks and lots more. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
It was obvious the Padres wouldn't be dipping their toes in the free agent market this winter after selling off nearly every veteran on the roster before last year's trade deadline. Tyson Ross, who was supposed to be the team's ace last season, was allowed to walk after a frustrating year of rehab resulted in no progress. The Padres recently signed longtime Angels pitcher Jered Weaver to fill a rotation spot, but there is still plenty of room for Chacin and Cahill to be starters in a staff that was completely dismantled last season. Jay, Ramirez and Norris no longer fit into the team's youth movement and will be replaced in-house by top prospects.
Wil Myers returns as the Padres' All-Star representative from last season and should be the top slugger in the lineup once again. He got off to a blazing start with 19 HR, 60 RBI, 16 SB and a .286 AVG in the first half. The loss of Matt Kemp seemed to greatly affect him in the second half, as he slumped to a .223 average with just nine homers and 34 RBI. With an extremely young supporting cast around him, Myers may not be able to replicate those first-half numbers again. His stolen base count (28) at a position of scarcity still makes him a borderline top-10 1B option for fantasy owners.
Around the diamond, every other position is up for grabs. The front office would like to see Cory Spangenberg claim the second base job, but he only logged 48 at-bats last year after suffering a severe quad injury and is still unproven. Rookie Carlos Asuaje will give him healthy competition after a stellar 2016 in Triple-A where he hit .321 and scored 98 runs. Ryan Schimpf could slot at second or third, but will have to prove he is more than just a three-true-outcomes hitter. Schimpf slugged .533 with a ridiculous .315 ISO by jacking 20 homers in 276 at-bats. His .217 average and 2.6 AB/K will need to improve if he is to start every day. Yangervis Solarte is a sleeper at third base, with an OPS that has increased each year in the majors. Shortstop could be a reclamation project - either passed-over prospect Luis Sardinas or declining veteran Erick Aybar. The catcher job has now officially been handed to Austin Hedges, who torched Triple-A pitching last year but holds a career .161 average in 161 Major League at-bats.
Outfield is where the action is in San Diego. A slew of young talent will compete for playing time. Among the group, Hunter Renfroe offers the most power, Travis Jankowski is the best bet for steals, and Alex Dickerson should provide the best average. Manuel Margot has the tools to hit for average and steal bases while flashing a nifty glove. His ceiling is the highest of all four players, making him a must-draft in keeper leagues.
Frankly, this staff is a complete mess. Some are projecting historically bad stats for San Diego's rotation, but there are still enough veterans that can utilize Petco Park's pitcher-friendly atmosphere to their advantage. Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill, Jarred Cosart, Paul Clemens and Christian Friedrich are all names you can safely ignore on draft day. Youngsters Luis Perdomo, Cesar Vargas, and Tyrell Jenkins showed glimpses of promise in their rookie campaigns, but all finished with an incredibly bloated WHIP (1.59 for Perdomo, 1.65 for Vargas, 1.69 for Jenkins) that should scare you away. Jered Weaver was a fantasy asset once upon a time, but has seen his ERA rise for four straight seasons, up to 5.06 in 2016, along with a 1.46 WHIP.
The closer situation is just as unclear. Brandon Maurer is the incumbent after closing 13 games in the second half, but he blew six chances and is not assured the job by any means. Carter Capps has closer stuff, but must remain healthy after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Ryan Buchter, Brad Hand and Kevin Quackenbush all have an outside shot to earn saves at some point this season as well. Like the rotation, this is best left untouched by fantasy owners before the season opens.
Many of San Diego's top prospects have already been discussed, since they will be competing for starting jobs this Spring. That doesn't mean things are all quiet on the farm, however. RHP Anderson Espinoza came over in the Drew Pomeranz deal, much to the chagrin of Red Sox fans. He is still a couple years away from making an impact at the top level though. Eric Lauer was the Friars' first-round pick last year and could join the rotation eventually. Defensive-minded Javier Guerra may the answer at shortstop before too long. Luis Urias and Jose Rondon are also middle infielders that have shown promise, while Rule 5 pick Allen Cordoba will get a chance to impress in Spring Training. Josh Naylor was acquired from the Marlins and provides a power-hitting first base option that could eventually be flipped to another team. For 2016, it is still Margot, Renfroe and Asuaje that have the biggest opportunity to shine.
The Padres are a team that will be much more appealing in dynasty leagues than re-draft this season. Although the pitching staff should be pretty much avoided at all costs, there could be some sneaky sources of speed and power in the young lineup. Wil Myers may still be undervalued in many drafts. Keep in mind he is still just 26 years old and a former top prospect himself. Jankowski can get you steals if you need them off the waiver wire, while Solarte could go undrafted and then put up a .290/20/80 season. If you target the youth, don't overpay for potential. There will be plenty of health competition for playing time in San Diego this season.