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Various Authors 3:49 p.m., Dec. 3
Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, who was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive with performance enhancing drugs, is on his way to Iowa to join the AAA Tucson Padres. The collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners allow Grandal to start rehabbing 10 games prior to eligibility for reinstatement into the major leagues.
This brings up some interesting possibilities for the Padres so far as how the front office decides to handle the roster once Grandal reaches that point of reinstatement. The management could keep Grandal in the minors as long as they deem necessary, but don’t expect that to happen if he can help the team.
Assuming Grandal is called up after he is reinstated, then the Padres will either have to figure out a way to keep three catchers on the roster – which is something that manager Buddy Black has indicated likely will not happen – or either Nick Hundley or John Baker will be the odd man out on the 25-man roster.
It’s possible, and initially likely, that Baker will be sent down to the minors since he has options left. And while Black has indicated that between Hundley and Grandal that they both will play, it is also likely that the better player will play most of the games with the other in a back-up role.
Last season, Grandal became the starting catcher because his offense was far superior to any alternative. If that holds this season, then it would follow that Nick Hundley will fill more of a back-up role.
Sounds simple? It really isn’t. Starting with Baker, he is the quintessential back-up catcher. He’s smart, relatively young, and even though he lacks offense, his defense is fine and his handling of the pitching staff admirable, and the organization likes him.
Baker knows his role with the Padres, and accepts that. Plus, the price is right. John is making $930,000 this season and then becomes arbitration eligible, so the club still controls him.
Keep Nick Hundley, and you have a back-up catcher making $3 million this season and $4 million the next, and after that he’s a free agent. Not an ideal situation for a back-up catcher in a small market.
Nick has skills, and although he’s a very streaky hitter, he put up good offensive numbers in 2011. But Nick doesn’t seem to be the type to accept a back-up roll and be happy with it, and the salary wouldn’t match him being in that role.
A more likely scenario is that should Grandal perform as he did in 2012, then Hundley would be traded to an interested team if the price is right. At least, that’s what the numbers would suggest.
In other happenings, Carlos Quentin has been placed on paternity leave. Carlos and his wife are enjoying their brand new baby boy, so after missing Thursday and Friday, Carlos will be back on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Padres brought up pitcher Tim Stauffer to fill Quentin’s absence on the 25-man roster. Stauffer was a spring-training non-roster invitee, and not on the 40-man roster. To clear room on the 40-man, pitcher Thad Weber has been designated for assignment.
When Quentin returns to the team on Saturday, the Padres will have to make another move on the 25-man roster. It is easy to speculate that Friday’s starting pitcher, Burch Smith, is the likely candidate to return to the minors.