Inbox: Will Correia return to Padres?

Inbox: Will Correia return to Padres?

Do you see the Padres keeping pitcher Kevin Correia? Or do you think the Padres are staying away from him because of what they did with Kevin Jarvis in the past?
-- Chris S., San Diego

Well, Chris, I think the Padres are hoping for a better return than what Jarvis gave them over three seasons (18-23, 5.06 ERA). I don't see Correia going anywhere. First of all, he's arbitration eligible, meaning the only way he walks is if the team non-tenders him for next season. That's not going to happen. Correia might have been one of the best bargains among Minor League signings last season, going 12-11 with a 3.91 ERA over 33 starts. He's in line for a nice bump from the $750,000 base deal of a year ago but I think whatever figure both sides settle on, he'll still be a relative bargain.

If you were the new general manager of the Padres, what would you do? Would you go after a power bat or a good young pitcher? Would you do it through trade or free agency?
-- Scotty N., San Diego

I love the GM-for-a-day questions, Scotty, though in the case of the Padres, it's not that easy to answer. First, we're not entirely sure what the working budget is going to be for 2010, though let's assume it will be in the 40s.

I would first re-sign Henry Blanco to a one-year deal but would also trade for catcher Bryan Anderson of the Cardinals system. Send outfielder Cedric Hunter and pitcher Sean Gallagher to the Cardinals for a catcher who has been one of the Cardinals' top prospects but might have slipped due to injuries. I would make a run at bringing Mike Cameron back but might balk at a two-year deal. One year plus a club option, maybe?

I think you could see some action after the Winter Meetings end, when a flood of non-tender candidates will hit the open market after the Dec. 12 deadline to tender offers. This influx of players will no doubt drive down the cost of some potential players who could fit in the payroll. My thought is the team will add another starting pitcher somewhere along the way, likely through a trade.

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It seems to me that the bullpen is one of our strengths, so do you think there is any possibility that we could package a guy like reliever Joe Thatcher to get a good young center fielder?
-- Josh Y., Oceanside, Calif.

Thatcher had a nice run last season with the Padres and showed that he's a much better pitcher than he showed in 2008, when he struggled and was sent to Triple-A Portland for good. But I think you're putting a little too much value on the worth of Thatcher, who to this point is still a left-handed specialist. He alone would not fetch you a center fielder, or not the kind of player who could anchor that position on an everyday basis.

Move Thatcher and you still need a capable left-handed reliever. I think, ideally, the Padres would like two lefties in the bullpen, though making that happen is easier said than done.

The Padres have already seemed to have drained their farm system this past season. The only players they seem to have coming up are young pitching arms. Most experts believe that the Padres farm system is one of the worst in the Majors. What hitting prospects do they have coming up?
-- Ryan K., El Paso, Texas

Hey, Ryan, I don't know if "drained their farm system" is accurate. The Padres have had some players like Chase Headley, Kyle Blanks and Nick Hundley graduate from their farm system and had added some nice players, athletic players with high ceilings, in the past Draft. There are still some nice players out there.

You asked about hitting prospects, so let's tackle that. I think the best of the bunch, in my opinion, is third baseman Logan Forsythe, who hit .300 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs between Class A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio with a .429 on-base percentage and a .869 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

I also like another third baseman, James Darnell, who hit .311 between Class A Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore with a .424 OBP and monster .960 OPS. Jaff Decker had a big year at Fort Wayne, but he's further off than Forsythe and Darnell. Lance Zawadzki looks like a shortstop with an offensive profile that might play well at higher levels. There are a few guys here who could help the team in the years to come.

Here's a question for the ages: After 40 seasons, the Padres still have not had a pitcher toss a no-hitter or have someone hit for the cycle. With the big outfield at PETCO Park, it seems like both are bound to happen sooner rather than later. The question is, given the current 40-man roster, which feat do you think will happen first? And who will accomplish each one? My guess would be Mat Latos and Blanks.
-- Cam D., Bend, Ore.

Good question, Cam from Bend, which happens to be the home of Deschutes Brewery (sorry, but it's one of my favorites). I would have to give the nod to Latos on the no-no more so than Blanks hitting for the cycle. Granted, we've already seen the big man get around the bases pretty fast (remember the inside-the-park home run?). But that triple, even in a funky park like PETCO Park, could be difficult. I think Latos could throw a no-no sometime in his career. He attacks hitters, can get a few strikeouts along the way and is tough to square up. I'm not sure either happens anytime soon, but it's fun to think about.

What do you think will happen with the catching situation? It has produced very little in offense and has been decent in defense.
-- Tom G., Chicago

We'll have to see what new general manager Jed Hoyer wants to do here, though I know Kevin Towers, the outgoing GM, wanted to potentially get a left-handed-hitting catcher during the offseason. I'm not saying it was his biggest need (it wasn't), but it was something he was thinking about. I wonder what Hoyer thinks of Hundley, who is getting better. I think bringing back Blanco is a smart move. He's inexpensive and he can tutor Hundley.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.