There are reasons Lindor doesn’t stack up quite as well as Betts, too:The chances that lineup exists only in this post and not on the Petco Park scoreboard next season are high, but I’ll never apologize for trying to have fun while discussing baseball, though. And there’s reason to believe the Padres could still want to make an impact deal.The guess here is the Padres weren’t willing to take on David Price; more specifically, they weren’t willing to absorb the money the Red Sox were asking them to take with (the Red Sox are eating half of the remaining million on Price’s deal, but that would’ve left the Padres taking on Betts’ million for this season and Price’s million for the next three years). Now, to be clear, the Indians have given public indication that they intend to keep Lindor heading to the season. But those are only public assertions and it never hurts to start flashing big trade packages to a front office working for a cheap ownership group. Still, their serious interest showed they are willing to take a big swing on the trade market. Wouldn’t they be willing to do so elsewhere? The Padres made a huge splash in each of the last two Februaries. They signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal in 2018 and Manny Machado to a whopper of a 0 million deal last year. Tuesday, we learned that they lost out on their pursuit of former Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts, who was traded to the Dodgers in the winter’s biggest blockbuster.Improvement internally should come from a few spots, too. Wunderkind shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. only played roughly a half season due to injury. Starter Chris Paddack showed flashes of ace-level stuff and he’ll be able to handle an uptick in workload. We could keep going both with current youngsters and prospects (and a full season of Garrett Richards?), but the bottom line is the Padres are set to be better and a big splash could really push them into surefire contender range. So what if the Padres’ swung a deal for Lindor and moved Tatis to the outfield? I had a scout mention to me last week Tatis moving to center field in order for the Padres to pursue Lindor (or Kris Bryant with Manny Machado moving to short, which is also interesting) makes perfect sense and center field might end up being the best spot for Tatis anyway. He has every tool one would need out there and there are fewer opportunities for errors. 

  • Lindor is under team control for two more years while Betts only has one year until free agency. 
  • Lindor is set to make $17.5 million this season while Betts is making $27M. Of course, Lindor’s salary will go up next season, but it’s unlikely to be $27M. 

Before going any further, let’s point out that the Padres have not had an empty offseason. They swung a deal for Tommy Pham and he’ll fit really nicely toward the top of the order. Late-inning lefty Drew Pomeranz is back. Utility man Jurickson Profar was acquired in a trade, just as outfielder Trent Grisham and starter Zach Davies were.

  • Betts is better. 
  • The Padres have Tatis at shortstop. 

Yikes. 

  • Fielding percentage: .944 (54th of 57 SS with at least 150 innings)
  • Fangraphs dWAR: -2.1 (54th)
  • Baseball-reference.com dWAR: 0.2 (36th)
  • UZR: -5.8 (53rd)
  • Defensive runs saved: -2 (40th)
  • Baseball Savant outs above average: -13 (33rd of 35)

But could they move Tatis? While he made plenty of highlight-reel plays and is capable of doing much better in the future, Tatis’ defensive numbers weren’t great.Now, would there be concern about Tatis learning outfield when he’s only been an infielder his whole life? Possibly. But lots of lesser athletes move to the outfield and some learn to do it adequately.  There are reasons Lindor should be more attractive to the Padres than Betts. Namely: If the Padres were worried about him handling the move to center, perhaps a move to second base? You don’t bring this up unless there’s a reason, and if there’s a realistic shot at Lindor, it’s at least worth a discussion. That’s a major improvement from last season and, again, there are reasons to believe the Padres will get better internally as well. As noted, given his age and big-league inexperience I wouldn’t look at those and see “change his position immediately!” But it’s something the Padres could very well consider. For those curious, Lindor scores above average across the board and excellent in some metrics with his glove. Francisco Lindor would qualify as a big splash.

  1. Tatis, CF
  2. Pham, LF
  3. Lindor, SS
  4. Machado, 3B
  5. Hosmer, 1B
  6. Wil Myers/Grisham, RF
  7. Francisco Mejia/Austin Hedges, C
  8. Jurickson Profar, 2B

Here’s how the Padres might look if they made this move (I’m going to include Manuel Margot in the deal going to Cleveland). “Tatis probably could play anywhere on the field, to be honest,” said another scout. “He’s an incredible athlete.”