Friars continue search for outfield bat

Friars continue search for outfield bat

SAN DIEGO -- As Spring Training looms closer, the Padres are continuing their pursuit of signing a right-handed hitting outfielder, their most imperative need on a short offseason wish list.

They just won't overpay for it.

San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer said he is disinclined to sign a player to a multi-year deal for what likely will be a platoon situation in center field with the left-handed hitting Tony Gwynn.

"I don't see that," Hoyer said Tuesday from Paradise Valley, Ariz., where he is attending the Major League Baseball Owners Meetings.

"It will probably be a one year deal ... or maybe one a one-year deal and an option."

The Padres are looking for a bargain, as are many teams, and might get what they want, as the free-agent market as played out the way Hoyer and the Padres expected it would, with 109 free agents still available.

"We've got a bunch of offers out there," Hoyer said.

The Padres, according to sources, still may prefer Jerry Hairston Jr. and Randy Winn as the right-handed hitting outfielder who can share time with Gwynn in center field.

Hairston, a career .271 hitter in the National League (compared to .253 in the American League), could potentially fill two areas of need for the Padres. He's intriguing because he can be that right-handed bat in center field and also fill a need as a backup infielder who can spell Everth Cabrera at shortstop and David Eckstein at second base.

Hairston hit .251 with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs between the Reds and the Yankees in 2009, and his versatility appeals to the Padres. He can play second base, third base and shortstop, as well as all three outfield positions.

Of all the teams in pursuit of Hairston, the Padres might offer the most playing time. And it's likely Hairston received a positive review to manager Bud Black from his younger brother Scott, who played two seasons in San Diego.

The Padres are also said to be interested in Winn, 35, who spent the past five seasons with San Francisco. Winn, a switch-hitter, has a career .280 average against left-handed pitching, though that slipped to .158 in 120 at-bats in 2009.

Winn isn't the defender in center field that he once was, but he still rates as a person of interest for the Padres moving ahead. Before he was dismissed as Padres GM in October, Kevin Towers said that Winn was on his radar for 2010.

Xavier Nady, a former Padres player, isn't a likely target because his asking price would likely exceed what San Diego is willing to pay for an outfielder.

The Padres are also still looking to add a veteran backup catcher. Ramon Castro, a player they had an offer out to, re-signed with the White Sox. Mike Redmond, who served as a backup to Joe Mauer in Minnesota, continues to be a target.

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