Padres targeting field assistance before the deadline

The Padres have long been expected to look for ways to bolster offense this Deadline season. The outfield seems to be a particular problem area, and MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell writes that the club is indeed scouting the market for on-turf help.

San Diego had an overall offense in midfield and came into play on Friday with a .241/.317/.374 team slash line. This includes a Monster .307/.381/.525 shown by the Star Third Baseman Manny Machado, and the brothers’ production was a bit top-heavy. five players (Trent Grisham, Austin Nola, CJ Abrams, Jose Azocar and Wil Meyers) have made more than 100 plate appearances and were at least 15 percentage points worse than the league average with the racquet as measured by wRC+. That leads to some areas that are wide open for potential upgrades, particularly in an outfield that was a bottom ten unit with a .220/.303/.346 power.

Few outfielders are more obvious trade candidates than the Royals left fielder Andreas Benintendi. The 28-year-old, a forthcoming free agent at a bottom-ranked club, looks like a virtual ban from changing uniforms in the coming weeks. He will be a priority target for several teams that are needed in the outfield and New York Post’s Jon Heyman reports the Padres are among clubs with interest.

Benintendi scores .317/.386/.401 through 363 plate appearances. He’s only linked to a trio of longballs, but he possesses a strong 10.2% walk rate and has a career low on 14% of his trips. While he doesn’t have much influence from a power perspective, he brings a disciplined plate approach and makes a lot of contact. Benintendi has also done well in left field in the defensive runs saved estimate since landing in Kansas City, and he picked up a gold glove and finished second in last season’s Fielding Bible Award vote.

The brothers saluted the back left fielder Jurickson Prof off the concussion injured list tonight, just a week after suffering the horrific injury in a collision with Abrams. Profar will pair with Nomar Mazara in corner outfield, with Grisham likely to continue as a regular midfielder. Profar and Mazara are each having a fine season, but they have more volatile career records. Grisham had a rough year and put a .192/.295/.334 line into play tonight.

Cassavell suggests a midfielder could be a target given Grisham’s struggles, although the market for midfielders is pretty thin. Oakland Ramon Laureano is the best midfielder with a decent chance of being treated but he would need a very strong return with three seasons left in club control. Benintendi’s teammate Michael A Taylor would be a more affordable fallback, despite having a generally ascending and descending track record on the plate for his career. Benintendi has a bit of midfield experience himself, but he hasn’t logged an inning there since 2019.

Payroll restrictions loom over the Padres’ deadline prospects. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently found out, San Diego’s luxury tax book is just under the baseline of $230 million. The organization hasn’t shown much appetite to surpass that mark for a second straight season, raising questions about what sort of acquisitions President of Baseball Operations AJ Preller and his staff may be able to make. Benintendi, for example, is playing with a salary of $8.5 million. About $3.4 million of that bill will still be owed by the close on Aug. 2, and assuming the money would push San Diego into luxury tax territory, all else being equal. Of course, the Padres could look to dump their own money and/or only deal with teams willing to pay traded players’ salaries if they intend to avoid the CBT.

No player the Padres add from outside the organization will be a more impactful addition than Fernando Tatis Jr. The star shortstop is yet to play this season after being diagnosed with a broken wrist in spring training. However, he is ready to take a step forward as Preller told Ben & Woods in 93.7 The Fan that Tatís would start his batting progression today (Twitter link). He continues to be re-evaluated week-to-week, but it’s a notable development as he’s long awaited approval to swing a racquet.

Tatís will certainly need some time to get back into the game and then he will have to embark on a minor league rehab spell to improve his timing. Meanwhile, the brothers will continue to split shortstop time Ha Seong Kim and Abrams. The former was the primary shortstop for most of the year. He’s played excellent defense all season and he’s been on fire on court lately. After only hitting 0.232/0.327/0.295 in June, Kim owns 0.344/0.421/0.531 levels in the first weeks of July.

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