As the San Diego Padres approach the Winter Meetings under new owner Jeff Moorad and new general manager Jed Hoyer, there are decisions that this team will need to make to shape the 2010 squad.
One decision that the team is already working on is the future of first baseman, and the new face of the franchise, Adrian Gonzalez.
There was a report from ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that Hoyer had met with John Boggs, the agent for Gonzalez, to discuss the first baseman's future with the club. But Crasnick was told that it was more of a "getting acquainted session."
"There wasn't any kind of negotiating or exchanging of numbers or anything like that," Boggs told Crasnick. "I'm sure we're going to keep the dialogue open, but nothing is imminent at this point. The way we're looking at it, Adrian is a Padre until something happens. And they're the ones who are really in control of the situation.''
Adrian is owed $10.25MM over the next two seasons and that's assuming the Padres pick up his option for the 2011 season.
Another decision the Padres will mull over prior to the Winter Meetings is bringing back catcher Henry Blanco. Blanco did a nice job not only mentoring young catcher Nick Hundley but also did an adequate job with the Padres' young pitching staff.
Though there's been no official word from the Padres about bringing back Blanco, the White Sox have made their interest in Blanco known, so San Diego will have to compete to bring back the veteran catcher.
The Padres have four arbitration eligible players they will need to take care of prior to next season. Pitchers Heath Bell, Kevin Correia and Mike Adams as well as third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. All of which may earn up to $12 million, collectively.
Speaking of pitching, it's the one thing that the Padres may not go outside their own club to set their starting rotation.
Chris Young as the team's new ace, young hard throwing right hander Mat Latos and left-hander Clayton Richard seemingly locks for the first three spots. The Padres can decide between Sean Gallagher, Aaron Poreda, Tim Stauffer, Cesar Ramos, and Wade LeBlanc for the fourth and fifth spots respectively.
One name that the Padres could have interest in bringing back is outfielder Mike Cameron, a fan favorite during his first stint with the club in 2006-07. If Cameron is willing to sign a one-year deal with the club, it could be a great addition for San Diego.
The only thing that may keep Cameron from dawning the home blue and white again is still having Chase Headley and Kyle Blanks occupying the left field spot.
The Padres are set in center field, with Tony Gwynn Jr, and right field with Will Venable, so what do you do with the aforementioned Headley and Blanks?
There's a lot of talk that the Padres could trade Headley for another right-handed bat, something this team desperately needs in the lineup. But trading Headley still leaves you with what to do about Kyle Blanks.
The 6'6" 285 lbs Blanks hit .250 last season with 10 home runs, all of which came after the All Star break, and drove in 19 of his 22 runs after that point as well. He has hit some tape measure home runs and has shown the power that the Padres knew he had.
Knowing that, it would lead you to believe that having him in the lineup, along with Adrian Gonzalez, would make this lineup a lot stronger.
San Diego might have a little wiggle room to sign a free agent or two and those signings may or may not come during the winter meetings. The one thing that could happen, though it may be a long shot, is the trading of Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox who tried to acquire him at the trade deadline last season before the Padres sent Jake Peavy to the White Sox.
The team has decisions to make and not much time to make them. But Moorad and Hoyer could turn this team into a definite contender. They may make the moves this team couldn't make under former owner John Moores and general manager Kevin Towers.
The jury is still out, but once this team reports to spring training in February, we could see a very different and possibly much better team than that of the 2009 season.