First-year general manager A.J. Preller gave the Padres a badly needed new identity with a dizzying series of trades in December that brought in a powerful new outfield — Matt Kemp, Will Myers and Justin Upton — as well as Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks.
Preller topped it off by signing James Shields to a $75 million, four-year contract, the biggest free-agent deal in club history. The overhauled Padres go into spring training knowing they at least have a chance to compete with the $250 million Dodgers and World Series champion Giants at the top of the NL West. Preller still has work to do, though. He must decide what to do with two injury-prone outfielders: Carlos Quentin, who has a no-trade clause and is owed $8 million, and Cameron Maybin, who is due $7 million.
Shields will lead a rotation that also includes Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy. Several pitchers will compete for the No. 5 spot. Middlebrooks will have to fend off Yangervis Solarte for the job at third base.