The 2015 season was supposed to be a memorable one for the San Diego Padres. The team made some very bold moves in an attempt to resuscitate a mostly dormant franchise. Padres ownership and management have gone the extra mile in boosting payroll and providing exciting current Major League stars to the Padres roster.
The mostly right handed hitting Padres were exposed this season and were shut out a league high 19 times during the year. The team failed to play with any consistency and was unbearable to watch at some points during the season. With all that said, the team did provide some positive, memorable moments as well. There is a hint that this team could be special, but yet there is also the cold hard fact that they are at least a player or two away from competing in a tough National League Western Division.
A huge need for this team is a power hitting left-handed bat. Yonder Alonso has not lived up to his potential. He has shown a line drive bat and could be very productive in the right situation. Injuries have limited his abilities and the Padres are surely beginning to get impatient with his bat. It is not as though Alonso is not solid, but the Padres need power production from their first baseman. Power is something that Alonso lacks, but there are options on the free agent market if the Padres dare to explore them.
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is scheduled for free agency this winter. He had an outstanding 2015 season for the Orioles in which he hit 47 home runs and drove in 117 runs. His batting line of .262/.361/.562 is very impressive for a slugger. Davis did lead the American League in strikeouts with a whopping 208. With those strikeouts, Davis did draw 84 walks in 160 games and 573 at-bats. He whiffs a lot, but the man does get on base. The Padres finished dead last in on base percentage (.300), so adding someone like Davis (despite the K’s) would be a huge upgrade for the team’s OBP.
Davis played mostly first base for the team but did also play 30 games in the outfield for the Orioles. He has decent athletic ability despite being six-foot three inches. The left-handed slugger would be the perfect fit for the mostly right-handed Padres. He would provide immediate protection for Matt Kemp and the team would not be victimized continually by right-handed pitching. Davis wears out right-handed pitchers hitting 37 of his 47 home runs against right-handed pitchers last year.
What would it take to land this slugger who smashed 53 home runs in 2013 for the Orioles? He is a legit power hitter, but the strikeouts and lower batting average probably limit his overall value. Davis made $12 million in salary this season. It was his last year of arbitration and he will easily get a raise this offseason on the open market. Davis will command $16-21 million a season for at least five seasons. The Padres could sneak in with an offer of $90 million for five years ($18 million per season). That would be a fair offer, and could get the job done, but there are some factors in a potential Chris Davis signing.
The first factor is the fact Davis missed part of the 2014 season following a suspension from baseball. He received a 25 game suspension for testing positive for Amphetamines. Davis claimed the positive test was from his use of Adderall for a form of ADD which he suffers from. Davis received a “Therapeutic Use Exemption” this season and there have been no issues.
The 2014 season was horrid for Davis as he hit .196 in 127 games. He did slug 26 homers and drove in 72 runs, but the year was a waste for him. He suffered from a left oblique strain in early April and never really recovered health wise. The drug issue as well as his sub .200 batting average in 2014 make him a risk. The Padres would need to do their home work on this slugger and see if his personality would be a fit for the team. His offensive numbers suggest the team should at least kick the tires on the 29-year-old first baseman.
The financial aspect is another factor and probably the biggest limit to a potential deal happening. The Padres are expected to have a payroll in the $105-120 million range. With all the arbitration eligible players the team has roughly $107 million committed to 17 players already for the 2016 season. That does not leave much remaining to fill out the roster. Clearly the team needs to shed some payroll. The most likely to be dealt is James Shields. Shileds is due $21 million for the next three seasons. Melvin Upton Jr. would also be a candidate to be dealt, but the likelihood of dumping his contract is minimal at best. The team would need to take on another perceived “Bad” contract or package Upton with a prized prospect. Neither scenario seems very appealing if you are a Padres fan.
If the Padres were to bring in Davis, they would need to get really creative with their payroll. With A.J. Preller at the helm nothing seems impossible, but it will definitely be an uphill battle. Chris Davis would fit right in the Padres lineup. A left-handed thumper like Davis can carry a team for weeks on end. There is some risk, but if the Padres want to compete, some changes need to be made.