Maybe A.J. Preller just gets really bored.
In the span of three offseasons, he has taken the Padres from the most aggressive of buyers to the most aggressive of sellers to the dumpster divers they've been this offseason, picking through the leftovers for something resembling upside while they await the fruits of their rebuild.
Not a great situation for Fantasy owners.
Their starting rotation is a patchwork of castoffs like Clayton Richard and Jhoulys Chacin, as well as last year's Rule 5 pick Luis Perdomo, none of whom would be more than a fifth starter on most any other team but four of whom will have to be here.
And it's not like help is on the horizon. Yes, the Padres have a top-flight pitching prospect in Anderson Espinoza, whom they plundered from the Red Sox in the Drew Pomeranz deal, but he's an 18-year-old who has yet to master A-ball. Last year's first-round pick, Cal Quantrill, has 37 innings under his belt, and Chris Paddack is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Rest assured, the Padres will have some long games ahead of them, the kind that will have them cycling in relievers from Triple-A every week.
So will their offense be able to keep up? That half of the rebuild is further along, with top prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot both having graduated (and made strong impressions) late last year. And of course, the Padres picked the right time to buy into Wil Myers, watching him become an All-Star at age 25. But leadoff man Travis Jankowski, a source of optimism a couple years ago, looks like your classic speedster who can't steal first base, and with defensive-minded solutions at both catcher and shortstop ... well, let's just say these Padres aren't giving the 2016 Red Sox a run for their money.
Long term, it's fair to say they still have some work ahead of them, but not much more can be done for 2017.
Is anyone here actually, you know, good?
OK, so I already mentioned Myers was an All-Star last year, and it wasn't just by default. Even with a slow finish, he was still nearly a 30-30 man and will surely be one of the first 10 first basemen off the board this year. But as a player who strikes out 100 more times than he walks, he can't afford any power slippage. The downside is palpable, even if less than probable.
Yangervis Solarte is a solid player who actually ranked 17th among third basemen in Head-to-Head points leagues last year, but his middling power prevents him from doing anything more in this lineup. Meanwhile, Ryan Schimpf showed surprising pop (and little else) as a 28-year-old rookie last year. We'll see how long he holds off Cory Spangenberg, a Scooter Gennett type who earns high marks for his intangibles.
Particularly if you play in a 10-team league, you should probably just assume Myers will be the one and only Padre drafted.
Will first-year starters Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot and Austin Hedges matter in Fantasy?
All three have a top prospect pedigree, and it generally pays to keep an open mind with those types (particularly ones who put on the kind power display Renfroe did late last year). But all three also have glaring shortcomings that would presumably cap their upside.
So is the cap high enough for our purposes? Well, home runs are always valuable, and Renfroe at least seems like a safe bet for those. His poor plate discipline could send him the direction of Jeff Francoeur, but it's the upside you're entertaining with a late-round pick, which ranges anywhere from Matt Kemp to J.D. Martinez.
Home runs are what Margot is lacking, and while he can run, stolen bases might be the most difficult category to project at the start of a career. He makes enough contact to matter in a Denard Span sort of way even without a high total, but from an unproven player, that sort of production isn't moving the needle, particularly in the three-outfielder Head-to-Head format where it would be most useful.
Hedges is the most interesting case because he was mostly regarded for his defense before a 21-game stretch last year in which he homered 14 times (in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but still). He was pretty ordinary thereafter, but in two-catcher formats, you'll be reaching for anything resembling upside before the draft is done.
How long before Carter Capps overtakes Brandon Maurer?
Health is of course a major obstacle. Capps is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, and it's less than likely he'll be ready by opening day, much less spring training. But before his elbow ligament betrayed him, we were asking this same question at about this same time last year, only in relation to the Marlins' A.J. Ramos, a respectable closer in his own right.
Maurer is not. He looked the part in a second-half audition, compiling a 3.09 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 32 appearances (albeit with only 7.0 strikeouts per nine innings), but his track record as a reliever is spotty at best. And Capps? Well, when we last saw him in the first half of 2015, he was putting up numbers that would make Kenley Jansen look twice, leading all relievers with a 1.10 FIP.
So one is just a placeholder. The other a long time coming. I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer the latter in a league deep enough to draft both.