Latest On Padres’ Outfield Plans

In comments to reporters (including Kevin Acee of the San Diego Post-Tribune), manager Bob Melvin confirmed his plans for the Padres’ outfield in 2023. After spending all of 2021 and 2022 in right field, Superstar is Juan Soto will switch back to left field for the upcoming season, where he spent most of the 2018-20 season. Soto performed well as a defender throughout the 2021 season, but defensive metrics degraded his glove work in 2022 when he was ranked the second-worst defender in all of baseball by Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric with an OAA of -16.

Elsewhere in the outfield Fernando Tatis Jr. appears to be a regular starter once he ends his suspension for PED action. Of course, Tatis had mainly played shortstop up to this point in his career, but Xander Bogaerts He now expects to fill that position on the Diamond after the Padres signed him to an 11-year deal earlier this offseason. With Tatis now evicted, he seems poised to start regularly in the right field once he can return at the end of April.

While Tatis spends most of his time in right field, Acee finds the hit star has his eye on another position: midfield. While Tatis is certainly sporty enough to handle midfield, having played 56 innings at that position in his career, it seems unlikely that he would oust the reigning midfielder Trent Grishamwho won a gold glove in 2022 for his work at the center. That being said, Grisham struggled at the plate in 2022, posting a meager .184/.284/.341 (83 wRC+) in 524 plate appearances.

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Given Grisham’s offensive struggles, it stands to reason that Tatis could still slide down the middle on occasion to open up space for a player like the right one Matt Carpenter, Jose Azocaror Brandon Dixon. This would be particularly useful against left-handed pitchers, against whom either Azocar or Dixon would have a draw advantage versus Grisham’s equal-handed batter.

For his part, Melvin was non-binding on where Tatis will play once he is able to return from his suspension, noting that the club will not only have to get through spring training but also the first 20 games of the regular season before Tatis can play anywhere. That being said, he admitted he could see Tatis moving around the field to play multiple positions if needed, leaving open the possibility that Tatis could make some starts at center as the 2023 season progresses.


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