A “Wanted” sign floats in the wind, maneuvering itself in and out of the offices of Major League Baseball agents who represent shortstops. Occasionally the poster is grabbed and held up to the light: “Wanted: Shortstop for the San Diego Padres” it reads. It is most often shrugged off with a sigh and a shake of the head before being discarded, wandering its way along to the next office of someone who represents a .235 hitting shortstop with a good glove. Who would want that job?
While the Padres hope that they have an answer in stud prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., as we talked about recently nothing is guaranteed. Last year’s shortstop Freddy Galvis signed a new deal with the Blue Jays after providing a few highlight reel plays on defense but about what was expected on offense(not much).
The Padres have not had a shortstop start Opening Day in three consecutive seasons since Khalil Greene started 5 consecutive seasons from 2004-2008, a trend that of course will continue in 2019 and most likely Tatis Jr won’t even start his streak until 2020 as the Padres will want to delay his service time clock starting until then.
This, of course, is what it looks like for a team that has failed to be competitive since the 2010 season – or generated much excitement since a failed shopping spree heading into the 2015 season. Interestingly enough in that off-season which brought in a new catcher, 3rd baseman, all three outfield positions, ace starting pitcher, elite closer…at the last minute they realized a new shortstop was needed since the last one faced legal charges after being caught up in the BioGenesis scandal. So the 2015 turnstile saw Clint Barmes – most famous in baseball lore after breaking his collarbone while carrying a package of deer meat – play out his final season in San Diego.
This is what an extended rebuild looks like. While dominant shortstops dot the landscape, from Trevor Story to Francisco Lindor to Corey Seager and free agent prize Manny Machado(who if a Padre would likely take up 3rd base anyway) to name a few, there are 30 MLB teams to take care of. It is not an easy job.
It hasn’t always been this way. This is the team that Ozzie Smith debuted for! Garry Templeton occupied the 6-hole nearly the entire 1980’s after Smith was traded! The Padres drafted Trea Turner first overall of course just a few years ago. Either impatient or hedging their own bet, they made a three-way trade to net Wil Myers before it was even officially legal, leaving Turner in minor league limbo until early 2015 when he officially became the PTBNL for the Nationals. Padres fans can only hope that Tatis is held onto – as signs are pointing that the Padres are just about ready to end this rebuild and make aggressive moves for the division.
They need some starting pitching yes, but also are still rated with the top minor league system. Until then though, their rebuild and team will be personified by Abbott and Costello noting that I Don’t Care is at shortstop. It doesn’t matter. Whether or not Tatis Jr can change that trajectory is a big question mark for the Padres to answer in 2019 as they hope to end their 10 year wandering in the shortstop wilderness.