5 essential offseason objectives for Padres

5 essential offseason objectives for Padres

SAN DIEGO -- With the 2017 campaign in the books, a busy offseason awaits Padres general manager A.J. Preller.

San Diego exceded a few external expectations with a 71-91 record. But even with a young and developing roster, there are a number of holes that need to be filled by the start of the 2018 campaign.

Here's a breakdown of the five most pressing items on Preller's agenda this offseason.

Listen to offers for Brad Hand

Perhaps no reliever was more coveted at the Trade Deadline than Hand. Without an offer he deemed viable, Preller elected not to deal the 27-year-old left-hander. Sure enough, Hand posted a 1.95 ERA in the second half and will be in high demand once again this offseason.

If the situation sounds familiar in San Diego, it's probably because two years ago, Preller balked at dealing Craig Kimbrel midseason. Then, the offseason came, and he found a suitor willing to offer four intriguing prospects, two of whom -- Manuel Margot and Carlos Asuaje -- were playing regularly by the end of this season.

Margot legs out triple

"We had Kimbrel in that situation," Preller said. "We talked to a few teams about Kimbrel at the Trade Deadline in '15. We get into that offseason, we had a couple teams reach out early, said, 'We're still interested.' I would expect that to probably be the case [with Hand]."

Hand, who posted a 2.16 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings, has two years of team control remaining. He'd be a fit just about anywhere. If Preller doesn't want to move Hand, maybe it's time the Padres consider an extension.

Sign a bridge to Tatis at short

Three offseasons in a row, Preller has brought a stopgap solution at shortstop on board, much to the chagrin of Padres fans. Veterans Clint Barmes, Alexei Ramirez and Erick Aybar hardly inspired excitement for the future.

It's a bit different this offseason, with the emergence of Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the sport's fastest rising prospects. The 18-year-old standout could be making an impact by 2019, leaving Preller without reason to spend big bucks on a shortstop this winter.

"We'll look at the guys available in free agency and possible trades," Preller said. "And then we've got to weigh that out versus some guys who are starting to come through the pipeline that we feel are Major League shortstops."

Among the candidates to fill the void for 2018 are J.J. Hardy, Alcides Escobar and Aybar.

Hardy's memorable day

Sort out the logjam at second and third base

Preller has made it clear he doesn't view the excess options at second and third base as a problem. Cory Spangenberg, Yangervis Solarte, Asuaje and Christian Villanueva could all compete for starting jobs next spring. No. 3 prospect Luis Urias isn't far behind them.

"We're comfortable bringing everybody into camp and letting them compete," Preller said. "You need more than just your two starters at second base or third base."

Solarte's great diving catch

That said, it's very likely Preller will field calls on those positions. Solarte, in particular, seems like a nice trade piece, given his versatility, his experience and his team-friendly contract.

"As we go into the offseason, we'll get hit on that depth that we have," Preller said of the team's situation at second and third. "When you have areas of depth, it potentially gives you the ability to improve the team in another spot. We'll play that out."

Sign multiple rotation options

Five Padres starters are expected to return from various surgeries and be healthy by the start of camp come spring. All five have served in a rotation in the past. None of the five is a guarantee for an effective 2018 season.

With that in mind, Preller absolutely must add to the current mix, where Clayton Richard is the only lock. Dinelson Lamet, Luis Perdomo and Travis Wood will also return, and the Padres are exploring the possibility of a reunion with Jhoulys Chacin, who is coming off his best season in four years.

Chacin's strong start

"In an ideal world, it would probably be double-digit starters that you feel are realistic big league-type starting options," Preller said.

Hire a hitting coach

This one's as much Padres manager Andy Green's call as it is Preller's. But it's a priority nonetheless.

For the second year in a row, the Padres were the only team in the Majors with an on-base percentage below .300. They finished last in runs and batting average as well.

Preller and Co. have compiled a list of candidates and will begin the interview process this week. It could be a while before a decision is made, however, with the Padres likely to interview candidates from teams currently in the postseason.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.