Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Gambling on Venable
By AJ Mass
The San Diego Padres announced that they have signed outfielder Wil Venable to a two-year contract extension worth $8.5 million. The deal makes financial sense, since Venable was headed to arbitration anyway, and there was a great likelihood that the end result of that process would have resulted in a contract not too far off the mark from what the two sides agreed to now without any rancor developing.
However, locking up Venable now probably says more about the Padres other two outfielders than it says about a guy who was hitting just .221 at the All-Star break. Would they have bothered to lock up a player based, essentially, on one hot month - Venable hit .367 in August - if not for the fact they were seriously concerned about the future health of both of their corner outfielders?
Carlos Quentin is preparing for his third knee surgery since March of last year, and may or may not be ready at the start of Spring Training. Cameron Maybin's own knee injury has already forced him to abandon two attempts to get through a rehab assignment and return to the team. Without those three players, the rest of the fill-ins in the outfield have managed to hit just .256 on the year.
This team is not going to contend by playing mix and match with the likes of Kyle Blanks, Chris Denorfia and Alexi Amarista, or by relying on unproven prospects like Jaff Decker and Raymond Fuentes. Yet, given the team's low-budget tendencies, it seems more likely that they will indeed hope for the best in terms of Quentin and Maybin, and once again play a perverse form of outfielder Jenga in the alternative.