Padres Chase Free Agents While Relying on The Process

San Diego is looking to add major names while home-grown talent matures

The Padres are talking in earnest with free agent outfielder Bryce Harper. Do they have a legitimate shot at landing the superstar? Well Harper did get married in San Diego and during the 2016 All-Star Game at Petco Park when Wil Myers was mic’d up Harper was heard saying he “loves this place.”

Take from that what you will but what is impossible to argue is the fact Harper … or Manny Machado … would no doubt receive the largest free agent contract in Padres history. The guy who currently owns that is Eric Hosmer, who signed on right around this time last year and saw his offensive numbers dip near his career lows.

The 1st baseman saw his run production and OPS drop while his strikeout rate rose but he vows to do better in 2019.

“That’s kind of what I told myself; don’t even think about what happened last year,” said Hosmer. “I’m just moving on to this next season. At the end of the day I don’t really know what happened. I just … it didn’t go the way I planned and there’s really no excuse for that.”

Hosmer says he rededicated himself this off-season and he’s “in a good place.” But the Padres didn’t bring him in to be a slugger. They need him to be a leader. The top-ranked minor league system in baseball is about to start bearing fruit so long-suffering Padres fans … just hang in there.

“Just trust in what we’re going. We’re getting things going in the right direction here with the talent they’ve acquired at the minor league level and the big league talent that’s coming along, as well,” said Hosmer. “I think it’s going to be a good mesh and it’s going to be a lot of good baseball to come here.”

Hosmer knows what he’s talking about here. In 2011 he was part of the Royals’ top-ranked farm system (Hosmer was #1 in the system according to Baseball America, just ahead of Wil Myers and Mike Moustakas). In 2015 that group, which also included Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain, won the World Series. Hosmer has seen how the process is supposed to play out so he knows there’s no real way to predict when guys like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack will start winning games at Petco Park but thinks it’ll be sooner than later.

“The player kind of lets you know when he’s ready,” said Hosmer. “These guys all have the talent to be here, for sure. Right now it’s about going to minor leagues and doing it on a consistent basis, showing you can be that player day in and day out.”

That’s what starting pitchers Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi did in the minor leagues. With a few large bumps in the road they were able to translate that to success as Major League rookies. Ditto outfielder Franmil Reyes, who had a rocky first trip to The Show, was sent down to Triple-A to work on a slight swing adjustment, then came back up and started ripping balls all over the yard.

And don’t even get me started on Luis Urias, in a very short time put a charge into an entire fan base with his play at 2nd base. Aside from Urias not one of those players was a top-10 Padres prospect. If the guys ranked ahead of them are even better then things really are on the right track for the Friars.

Which brings us back to Harper and Machado. Adding either of those guys as a free agent doesn’t make the Padres dip into the best farm system on earth and part with assets in a trade. Signing one of these big-ticket items can only accelerate The Process.

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