Wednesday February 17, 2010
In an interview with Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune today, Padres CEO Jeff Moorad said in answer to a question about the 2010 major league payroll, "We’ll head to spring training at about $41.5 million".
Since the Padres MLB payroll sits at $38.025 million as of today, reading Center's interview gave me hope that the Padres are not done with free agent signings.
Then I sat down for my evening reading of MLBTradeRumors.com and saw this:
Padres, Cardinals and Others interested in Felipe Lopez
Could it be possible that the Padres were really still looking to fill out the bench with a player like Felipe Lopez?
Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com wrote in an article this evening that their sources were saying 4 teams were in pursuit of Lopez and they included the Padres and Cardinals.
If GM John Mozeliak pulls the trigger on the signing it would be a return to St. Louis for Lopez as he played for the Cardinals in 2008. For the Cardinals Lopez would likely just be insurance in case shortstop Brendan Ryan does not recover well from his recent wrist surgery.
For the Padres Lopez would provide depth in the middle infield behind starters Everth Cabrera and David Eckstein. Prior to 2009, Cabrera had only a handful of at bats above the Low A level so the Padres cannot be sure how he will respond in 2010 and David Eckstein, while an great hitter in the clutch and an invaluable influence in the clubhouse and on the field, is 35 years old and on the downside of his career.
With Jerry Hairston Jr. already on board as a utility player, signing Lopez would give the Padres great depth and versatility on the bench.
The other teams rumored to have interest in Lopez include the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros. Cleveland has two promising young players penciled in at 2B in Luis Valbuena and Jason Donald, and has been been shedding payroll not adding it. They may not have the money in their budget to sign Lopez even at the discounted rate he will likely be forced to take this late in the off season.
Houston has Kaz Matsui and his $5 million salary at 2B. It is doubtful that they are in the market to add payroll at that position.
So what do you think about the Padres chances to sign Lopez? If the Padres DO sign Lopez, would you rather see him start or backup the middle infield?