11/29/07 10:00 AM ET
Caution expected at Winter Meetings
GM Towers unlikely to overreach to bolster Padres roster
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
By doing so, teams ensure that they will receive compensatory Draft picks if those free agents sign with other teams. The Padres are likely to offer arbitration to catcher Michael Barrett (a Type A free agent) in order to receive two Draft picks. They will offer outfielder Mike Cameron, a Type B free agent, as well.Cameron's agent, Mike Nicotera, said on Wednesday that he will likely refuse the Padres offer of arbitration, meaning the team would get a compensatory Draft pick if Cameron signs elsewhere. Towers said the "trickier" choice will be outfielder Milton Bradley, another Type A free agent. Bradley will miss part of the upcoming season after tearing his the ACL in his right knee in the final week of the 2007 regular season. Either way, the Padres -- who won 89 games in 2007 and missed the playoffs by one victory -- could have a handful of new faces in the starting lineup and in the rotation when they open the regular season on March 31 against the Astros. One free agent the Padres are very high on is outfielder Geoff Jenkins, who hit .255 with 21 home runs and 64 RBIs in 132 games despite being in a platoon situation with Kevin Mench. Jenkins, a left-handed hitter, could be a nice fit at PETCO Park, which can be unforgiving to hitters.
"The Padres are very much on Geoff's radar and we consider them a very viable contender," said Jenkins' agent, Damon Lapa on Monday.
Apparently, he's very much on their radar, as Jenkins met with Towers, manager Bud Black and even CEO Sandy Alderson on Tuesday.Another option is possible Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome. The 30-year-old, who projects more as a corner outfielder, was once scouted by Towers as a high school player. If Fukudome lands in the Major Leagues, he could earn in upwards of $12-14 million a year. And he's a player who fits the Padres mold -- gap power, patience and a good on-base percentage. The Padres figure to make a run at former Braves center fielder Andruw Jones, though only on a loaded one-year deal to entice a player to PETCO Park, a stadium that he has essentially turned into his own personal playpen (.393, nine home runs, 21 RBIs in just 15 games). But his agent, Scott Boras, said recently that he does not expect Jones to sign a one-year deal. On the pitching front, the Padres re-signed Maddux to a one-year deal worth $10 million last week, which would give them a formidable 1-2-3 trio at the top of their rotation along with Peavy and Young. The Padres are looking to fill the back end of the rotation and will likely turn to a handful of pitchers who are coming off injuries but are now healthy, Towers said. That group includes Jon Lieber, Randy Wolf, Matt Clement, Jason Jennings and Bartolo Colon. Clement, who started his career with the Padres, has drawn significant interest, though he could end up in San Diego, where he already has a strong relationship with Towers and other players and team personnel. Clement hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2006 after having surgery last season on his right shoulder. "They indicated potential interest there and said that Matt might be an interesting possibility in that regard," said Clement's agent, Barry Axelrod. "Coming the other way, Matt has an interest in the Padres." Towers also said Monday that the team will stay with Kevin Kouzmanoff at third base next season and that rookie third baseman Chase Headley, the MVP of the Texas League, will likely take fly balls this winter to see how he takes to the outfield. "After last year, it's kind of hard to move Kouz," Towers said. Towers said the Padres are still committed to going the internal route at second base, though he left the door open a little, saying that the team won't likely look to add a veteran second baseman "unless we strike out with outfielders."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.