The San Diego Padres have made waves around the baseball world this off-season, acquiring several big-name players in an attempt to bolster a lackluster lineup. However, in addition to acquiring the likes of Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, the swinging Friars have made quite a few minor league signings this off-season, including the signing of a former All-Star. Here is the list of the minor league costless agents the Padres have signed this off-season (reported by Matt Eddy of Baseball America).
Brett Wallace, first baseman: Wallace, 28, was the 13th overall pick in the 2008 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He was sent to Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal, and ended up in Houston. Wallace has a lackluster slash-line of .242/.313/.391 in the big leagues.
Last season, Wallace spent the entire season in Triple-A, as he played for the Toronto and Baltimore organizations and hit 17 homers. While the prospect promise is gone, Wallace gives the Padres some nice depth at Triple-A. He is left-handed, and he could see time in San Diego during the 2015 season.
Trayvon Robinson, outfielder: Robinson, 27, is a former Dodger farmhand, was once a top-100 prospect, way back in 2011. Former Dodgers farm director Logan White is now in San Diego, so it’s safe to assume he is a favorite of White. Robinson has service time, although he hasn’t seen the big leagues since 2012, as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Robinson never hit much, and has a .215 career average in 319 plate appearances. Robinson spent last season in Triple-A for the Dodgers organization and hit just .235. He is nothing more than organizational depth at this point, with no real prospect of cracking the big league roster.
Griff Erickson, catcher: Erickson, 26, has spent his entire career in the Dodgers organization, after being drafted in the 15th round in 2006 draft. Erickson has never cracked a big league roster, but has an impressive .353 on-base percentage in nearly 2000 plate appearances in the minors. Erickson also hails from the San Diego area, having attended Mesa College. He should provide depth at Triple-A for San Diego.
Marcos Mateo, pitcher: Mateo, 30, has a career ERA of 5.04 in 44.2 career big league innings. Mateo hasn’t made a Major League appearance since the 2011 season. Mateo spent last season pitching in Triple-A, and posted a 3.86 ERA out of the pen for the Iowa Cubs. If anything, he gives the Padres a veteran presence in the El Paso bullpen.
Jason Lane, pitcher: Jason Lane was one of the best stories in baseball in 2014, making it back to the big leagues as a pitcher, years after washing out of baseball as an outfielder. Lane pitched very well in San Diego in 2014, albeit on a very small sample size. In 10.1 innings, Lane allowed just a single earned run. Last season, Lane posted a decent 4.51 ERA in 24 starts for the Padres’ top farm club. It wouldn’t be a surprise for Lane to make an appearance in San Diego at some point in 2015.
Benji Gonzalez, infielder: Gonzalez, 25 next week, was acquired last May from the Pittsburgh Pirates. 2014 was Gonzalez’s fourth season in Class-A, and he had his finest season. Last season Gonzalez posted a slash-line of .306/.381/.420, with a career-high three home runs. While he isn’t a prospect, Gonzalez should be primed to move up to Double-A next season.
Scott Elbert, pitcher: Elbert, 29, is another former Dodger, was once a useful reliever, although injuries have ruined a promising career. Elbert has had a bevy of elbow injuries, and had Tommy John surgery in 2013. He got into seven games for Los Angeles last year. The Padres already have left-handed relievers Alex Torres and Frank Garces on the 40-man roster, but a good spring could put Elbert in the mix for a bullpen job.
Jose Valverde, pitcher: Alas, we save the biggest name for last. Valverde, 36, is a three-time All-Star and has 288 career saves. While he has fallen on hard times the last few years, he was once a dominant reliever. Valverde was last useful in 2012, when he saved 35 games for the Tigers. The Padres have plenty of depth in the bullpen, so it seems Valverde is a long-shot to make the team.