The Padres pruned their pitching staff a bit on Monday.
Cesar Vargas was optioned to Triple-A El Paso while Dinelson Lamet, Aroni Nina and Michael Kelly were reassigned to Minor League camp. The Friars now have 64 players in Major League camp.
Vargas pitched well in his MLB debut in 2016 until May 28, his 7th start, which was cut short after 1.2 ineffective innings. Vargas missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain that, luckily, did not require a Tommy John surgery.
The 25-year-old made two appearances in Cactus League games before being sent down to build up his innings. If he stays healthy the 25-year-old righty with the wicked cut fastball will likely be one of the first players called up if anyone in the Major League rotation gets hurt (or traded).
Of the other players leaving big league camp Lamet was the only one with a shot at making the Opening Day roster this year.
The Padres lost another guy who is expected to be in the starting rotation this year, but not for too long. Jhoulys Chacin left to join the Venezuelan team that will be competing in the World Baseball Classic. On Sunday he threw 3.0 innings and gave up a pair of solo home runs in San Diego’s 8-2 loss to the Indians.
Chacin will be joined by 3rd baseman Yangervis Solarte and relief pitcher Jose Castillo on the Venezuela roster. The Padres are also loaning out infielder Luis Urias and RHP Carlos Fisher (Mexico), 1st baseman Josh Naylor and infielder Jamie Romak (Canada), and RHP Bryan Rodriguez (Dominican Republic).
The second round of the WBC will be held at Petco Park from March 14-19 and several of these players might end up playing there. Much like soccer’s World Cup the WBC is broken in to multiple pools with four teams in each pool. The top two teams from Pool C and Pool D will play a round robin format in San Diego to determine who goes to the semi-finals. Those pools look like this:
Pool C - Miami, FL
Pool D - Jalisco, Mexico
So it’s possible every single one of the Padres could be coming to Petco this year.