Padres’ Points: Upton, Kennedy, Utley

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Melvin Upton was the player overshadowed in the Braves/Padres deal that sent Craig Kimbrel, one of the best relief pitchers in recent memory to San Diego. Here are a couple of thoughts about him on what he could bring to the club.

Upton signed a 5-year, $75.25 million deal with the Atlanta Braves in November of 2012. He hit just .198 in two years with the organization. He could be a pleasant surprise as the team’s fourth outfielder or he could end up being an major issue for the organization.

Over the next three seasons, Upton is owed $46.35 million. That is a lot of money for a player who has hit near or under .200 the past two seasons.

The one thing he will continue to do is be a strikeout-prone player. Over his career, he has struck out  26.4% of the time. As a fielder, he’s declined since leaving the Tampa Bay Rays.

The best case scenario: Upton plays in the Cameron Maybin role, coming off the bench and subbing in the outfield. He knocks his strikeout percentage rate closer to his career average, well below the 30 percent where it’s been near the past two seasons. He hits for power and gets his average up closer to the .250 mark rather than hover around the .200 mark.

The speed aspect is still there, something the this year’s club lacks in the starting lineup. He had 20 stole bases last season, so that could be another potential element to his game.

The worst case scenario: The change of scenery provides little change and he’s hitting like he was with the Braves. The Padres might of landed themselves a Carlos Quentin-type contract, something nearly impossible to move in a potential trade.

If he struggles, the team has a bench player who is earning $46.35 million over the next three seasons with unproductive results.

The organization might have taken a huge gamble for Kimbrel and Upton, but it is still worth it, at least in the short term.

Shortstop Search

A.J. Preller is not done, apparently. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Padres are still looking for a shortstop.

Starlin Castro is a name being brought up, but it is hard to see the Chicago Cubs moving him in April. Another question is whether the Padres have enough of a haul to get him. Never say never with Preller at the helm, but a major league piece may need to be involved along with prospects to acquire Castro, whose fielding is suspect at best.

Other teams with depth at shortstop include the Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, and Arizona Diamondbacks, among others.

An acquisition of a shortstop may happen down the road, but in April it really seems unlikely for now.

Injury Notes

  • Melvin Upton will head to Arizona tomorrow to continue rehab for his left foot injury. He will start to run next week before resuming baseball activities, according to a tweet by Corey Brock of MLB.com.

Friar Moves

  • Padres have made several moves today according to a tweet of Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego: Nick Vincent has been optioned to Triple-A El Paso, Brandon Maurer has been recalled. It gives the club a fresh arm.
  • Ian Kennedy is headed to the disabled list and Chris Rearick has been selected from Triple-A. Meanwhile, Cory Luebke heads to the 60 day disabled list.

 Friar Notes

  • Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro said in a recent interview that he has received calls from the Padres over the last few days, according to an article on CSNPhilly.com. One name the article speculates could have been discussed is not Cole Hamels, but Chase Utley. Utley would bring a left handed top of the order bat to already deep lineup and fill an area some say is a weakness for the club: the infield.
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