Padres Add Ian Kinsler, Release Clayton Richard

Veteran LHP DFA'd to make room for veteran IF

As expected the Padres officially added veteran infielder Ian Kinsler on a 2-year contract worth $8 million (plus a team option for 2021 at $3.5 million).

At the age of 36 Kinsler, a 4-time All-Star, won his 2nd career Gold Glove in 2018 but he struggled at the plate. Kinsler’s OPS dipped below .700 for the first time in his 13-year MLB career splitting the season between the Angels and Red Sox.

He’s been a 2nd baseman his entire life so the signing is a bit curious since the Padres view 21-year-old Luis Urias as their 2nd baseman of the future … and by future I mean right now. Kinsler isn’t really a shortstop and has only played two innings at the big league level at 3rd base so a position change seems unlikely.

It’s possible that Urias could move to short, a position he’s handled capably in the minor leagues, until fellow top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. is ready, which could possibly be in the middle of the 2019 season.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Kinsler the Padres designated pitcher Clayton Richard for assignment. The veteran lefty who is universally liked in the clubhouse had knee surgery late in the 2018 season. He had one year and $3 million left on his contract, which the Padres will have to pay out.

The decision to release Richard likely signals the franchise is ready to commit fully to the stable of young starting pitchers it’s been developing.

Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer showed promise enough to have them as frontrunners for rotation spots next year. Right-hander Jacob Nix had a few really good starts and a few really bad starts but put himself squarely in the mix. Lefty Matt Strahm, who served as an “opener” last season, is going to get a shot at the starting rotation during Spring Training. Bryan Mitchell came on strong at the end of the season and at least gave himself a chance to compete for a chance to start in 2019.

Then you have the kids; including 2016 first round pick Cal Quantrill … 2018 Texas League Pitcher of the Year Logan Allen … and 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Chris Paddack who could all challenge spots in the starting rotation.

And don’t forget Dinelson Lamet, who flashed plus-stuff in 2017 as a rookie, will likely be back from Tommy John surgery some time in 2019. Robbie Erlin, who had more success as a long reliever than a starter, is likely to stay in the bullpen.

The oldest of those guys is Erlin, who’s still only 28 years of age.

So the youth movement is officially on in the Padres pitching staff. Unless, of course, they sign a big-name free agent or make a trade, which is still infinitely possible.

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