2B Cory Spangenberg, who hit .271 at Class A in a 2012 season interrupted by a concussion and post-concussion symptoms, is a forgotten prospect. He followed a solid finish at Double-A San Antonio (.289 with a .331 on-base percentage in 76 second-half games) with a better Arizona Fall League. Spangenberg, 22, the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, was listed as the second-best prospect at second in the AFL. If Headley is moved and Jedd Gyorko returns to third, could Spangenberg become the Padres' second baseman of the future?
LHP Patrick Schuster was acquired in a trade with the Astros. He is the favorite to become the Padres' left-handed bullpen specialist since there are no other left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster or in the upper two levels of the minor league system. As the winter meetings approached, Padres GM Josh Byrnes saw one player on the list of Rule 5 eligibles who he coveted. The only problem was that the Padres' 40-man roster was filled -- and even if it wasn't, Byrnes felt the player in question wouldn't get around to the Padres. So on the eve of the Rule 5 draft, the Padres sent RHP Anthony Bass to the Astros for that "player to be named later," knowing that the Astros would select Schuster with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft and trade him to the Padres. Byrnes knew Schuster, 23, because he drafted the reliever in the 13th round of the 2009 draft out of high school. The 6-foot-1, 182-pound Schuster had a 1.83 earned run average in 55 appearances for Class A Visalia in the California League last season. He had 45 strikeouts with 18 walks in 44 1/3 innings. Drafted by the Diamondbacks as a starter after throwing four straight no-hitters in high school in New Port Richey, Fla., Schuster transitioned to the bullpen in 2011. He made 100 relief appearances over the past two seasons with Visalia with a 3.64 ERA. The Padres didn't lose any players in the Rule 5 draft.
OF Seth Smith's acquisition gives the Padres the left-handed bat they needed as well as more versatility in the outfield. The Padres struggled against right-handed pitching in 2013, particularly in the second half of the season when they were without 1B Yonder Alonso (hand injury) and SS Everth Cabrera (suspension). "We've been looking for one more left-handed bat," said GM Josh Byrnes. "We needed coverage in multiple positions." The Padres now have the ability to employ two left-handed hitting outfielders (Smith and Will Venable), have a left-handed hitter available for road interleague games and have added insurance should LF Carlos Quentin and CF Cameron Maybin again go down with injuries. Smith has a career .279 average against RHPs.
1Bs-OFs Jesus Guzman or Kyle Blanks and possibly INF-OF Alexi Amarista could be moved before the start of next season. Health will be a factor in the Blanks/Guzman decision. When healthy, they are basically the same player -- right-handed-hitting 1Bs-OFs. The return of CF Cameron Maybin and SS Everth Cabrera and the acquisition of OF Seth Smith could make Amarista surplus. Blanks or Guzman and Amarista are being used in talks seeking bullpen help.