Last week, Padres Public’s resident workaholic Dustin, posted 16 Ridiculously Specific Predictions For Every Padres Position Player. I, being someone no one would call a workaholic, have but one sad prediction for but one Padres position player. When spring training concludes and the season begins, Padres utility man Alexi Amarista will make the Padres 25 man roster.
After the nuclear apocalypse, two things will remain. Cockroaches and Amarista.
— mensrea (@CalvesForDays) March 17, 2016
La Cucarista. https://t.co/apZshxIEUk
— SanDiegoJosh (@SanDiegoJosh) March 18, 2016
There’s been a lot of chatter this spring that the Padres may finally be able to rid themselves of La Cucarista, the diminutive infielder acquired from the Angels in the Ernesto Frieri trade of 2012. The littlest ninja has been stuck on the roster like gum on the under side of a school desk for the nearly 4 years since, despite having been the definition of a replacement level player during his time with the team.
Yes, non-roster invitee Jemile Weeks has had an amazing spring and has seen time at SS. Yes, Amarista has been terrible this spring after coming off his worst season yet, in which he posted a good-for-a-pitcher 49 wRC+. Yes, the Padres have brought in other options to create a competition that could have potentially ended Amarista’s time with the club. However, any rumors or suggestions that the Padres will either cut Amarista or trade him (for what?) are nothing more than wishful thinking.
The good news: I do think that Jemile Weeks, the 29 year old switch-hitting 2B who has posted ridiculous spring training numbers, will also make the roster. However, with former outfielder Wil Myers at 1B and the defensively limited Brett Wallace as his backup, the Padres will likely only carry 4 full-time outfielders to start the season, with Myers moving to the outfield occasionally. That leaves an extra spot open on the Padres bench for a 2nd utility infielder, and you know what that means.
Of the Padres bench options still in camp, only Amarista has significant experience at SS, and actually showed himself to be not terrible there when given the opportunity. While the Padres would likely prefer Weeks take the backup SS role, you may remember The Great Yangervis Solarte Shortstop Experiment of 2014, and how bad a decent utility player can look when given the shot at super-utility status. While the signing of Alexei Ramirez should stabilize the Padres SS situation for the season, the team would likely prefer to have someone on the roster capable of competently handling the position in his absence.
Other Padres currently in camp still fighting it out for that last spot on the bench include non-roster minor league signees Adam Rosales and Nick Noonan, as well as Jose Pirela, who was acquired via trade from the Yankees in November and is on the 40 man roster. Rosales once upon a time had potential to be something but is now almost 33 and never was. Noonan is a 26 year old former Giant and San Diego native, but his major league numbers over parts of 2 seasons are even worse than Amarista’s. Pirela, also 26, projects by both Steamer and ZIPS to pretty decent offensive numbers, but hasn’t spent any significant time at SS since 2011.
Oh yeah, and the Padres owe Amarista $1.35 million this year, guaranteed. None of the other options are owed a penny by the major league club.
If you’re looking for silver linings, Amarista’s days with the Padres are numbered, as he’s a free agent after this season. The Padres also have been connected to Cuban 2B Jose Fernandez, who left the island and is set to become a free agent whenever MLB gets around to it. Fernandez is 27, essentially major league ready (though he’d probably spend a little bit of time in the minors), and exempt from the international bonus pool restrictions so the Padres wouldn’t need to wait until July to sign him. Bringing him on would shake up the roster, and could possibly send Amarista packing.
But don’t get your hopes up.
Update: just after this post went live, the Padres announced via Twitter that Nick Noonan had been sent to minor league camp.
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