One Week to Opening Day, Padres Roster Still in Flux

Friars make a late trade and might not be done dealing

Since Major League Baseball shut down in March there have been exactly two trades between big league teams. The Padres were involved in both of them.

At the end of June the Friars dealt a player to be named later to the A’s for former Yankees top prospect Jorge Mateo … who tested positive for COVID-19 and has been in isolation even since. He’s expected to be with the Padres at some point but with one week to go until Opening Day it’s getting more and more unlikely he’ll be part of the initial 30-man roster.

Then on Thursday, San Diego sent outfielder Franchy Cordero and pitcher Ronald Bolanos to the Royals for left-handed reliever Tim Hill, who pitched for Palomar College in 2010 and didn’t reach the Majors until two years ago, the age of 28.

“Kind of a late bloomer getting to the big leagues but over the last few years, both at the minor league level and the Major League level, has been one of the most effective relievers, especially relievers against left-handed hitting,” says Padres General Manager A.J. Preller.

Lefty Jose Castillo suffered an injury that could keep him out of the entire 60-game season so Preller made the move to get the submarining southpaw who, even at the age of 30, has a boatload of contractual control left.

“Pitching comes at all different levels, especially when you look at some of these relievers that have kind of been the drop-down guys or throw from different slots and present some uniqueness. Sometimes it takes those guys some years to figure things out. We looked at him as a piece for now and moving forward for the future,” says Preller.

Giving up Cordero is a bit of a surprise. Franchy has the kind of speed-power combination that teams covet but has been both inconsistent and often injured over his Padres career. The addition of Tommy Pham and Trent Grisham and the accelerated development of prospects Edward Olivares and Taylor Trammell made Cordero the odd-man out, despite his substantial potential.

“I’m not saying it was easy to move Franchy but we have some other options and some guys playing well for us right now,” says Preller. “I think we factored everything in, mainly about getting another quality reliever, and Franchy was a guy they continued to push on.”

So now the Padres, who are allowed 60 players, only have 52 (51 without Mateo) in camp and one week to cut that to 30 for Opening Day. After spending the first two weeks of Spring Training 2.0 seeing what kind of physical condition everyone is in, it’s crunch time.

“Over the course of the next week I think we’ll start looking at the roster and how we want to shape the roster,” says Preller. “We haven’t had a lot of conversations so far and I think that will start to pick up tomorrow. We looked at the schedule and planned it out that way anyway. I think we’ll start getting more into the numbers of who we want to carry, how we want to break camp and I think we’ll have a better feel for that over the course of the next four or five days.”

And don’t rule out the possibility that another new face will be added to the mix before those final roster decisions are made.

“We have a week to go so it’ll be interesting to see if teams have any more moves over the next week.” When it comes to acquiring talent, Preller is always open for business.

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