Padres have payroll "flexibility" but no deals yet

Padres General manager Josh Byrnes "pushed some ideas" during the second day of baseball's Winter Meetings.

And other teams and agents pushed back.


"Today was less productive than Monday," Byrnes said Tuesday night.

"We have no deal right now. It's not looking good for anything being announced here. Some things we'd been working on ended."


Byrnes figures to be busy again Wednesday on the penultimate day of what – aside from the Miami Marlins – has thus far been a boring Winter Meetings.

But it's beginning to look like the Padres could strike later than sooner when it comes to addressing their needs – starting with the eighth- and ninth-inning segments in a rebuilt bullpen.

They could wait to study the list of players who reject arbitration Wednesday or those who are non-tendered Dec. 12 before bringing their limited resources into play – hoping for a repeat of the January Miracle of 2010 that enabled the Padres to sign Jon Garland, Yorvit Torrealba and Jerry Hairston Jr. weeks after Christmas.

If the right deal presents itself earlier, Byrnes is poised to strike.


Without divulging numbers, Byrnes still has around $20 million to spend if CEO Jeff Moorad sticks to his promise that the Padres payroll in 2012 will "start with a five."

As it stands now, the only Padres under contract for 2010 are second baseman Orlando Hudson ($5.25 million) shortstop Jason Bartlett ($5.5 million) and outfielder-first baseman Mark Kotsay ($1.25 million).

Everyone else on the 40-man roster is either arbitration eligible or controlled by the Padres.

Even if the Padres don't make a trade or sign a free agent at the winter meetings, the next week will be busy.

The Padres have 10 arbitration eligible players – third baseman Chase Headley; catcher Nick Hundley; outfielders Will Venable, Chris Denorfia and Jeremy Hermida; starting pitchers Clayton Richard, Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer and relief pitchers Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher.

Byrnes would like to have all signed before the Dec. 12 non-tender deadline. Total cost: Approximately $14-$15 million.

The rest of the Padres' current roster is packed with players with less than three years experience. Even with the minimum wage rising from $416,000 to $480,000 in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Padres total payroll as it stands now is around $32 million.

"We have ample flexibility," Byrnes said of the Padres' funds.


Now, to find the right match.

Three names were linked to the Padres on Tuesday in trade talks – relief pitchers Huston Street of Colorado and Andrew Bailey of Oakland, and first/third baseman Daniel Murphy of the Mets.

The Rockies are willing to swallow some of Street's salary and are looking for a second baseman. Hmmm, the Padres would like to dump the salary of either Hudson or Bartlett. The A's are looking for young outfielders and starting pitchers.

Pitcher added

Right-handed reliever Dale Thayer, who turns 31 on Dec. 17, agreed to a minor league contract with the Padres that includes an invitation to spring training.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Thayer pitched in the Padres farm system from 2003-6. He is 0-3 with a 5.88 earned run average in 23 major league games. He was 0-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 11 games with the Mets last season and was also 4-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 44 games with Triple-A Buffalo.

"He is tough on right-handed hitters," said Byrnes. "He throws 93-94 (mph) from a lower arm angle. We have Joe Thatcher and Josh Spence with a different arm angle from the left side."

Thayer will be competing against the likes of Erik Hamren, Brad Brach and Nick Vincent for a spot in the Padres bullpen.

Padres notes

--With the Padres' 40-man roster already at capacity, Byrnes said it is unlikely that the club would release anyone to open a spot for a Rule 5 free agent in Thursday morning's draft of unprotected minor leaguers. "There were two players who interested us," said Byrnes. However, the Padres could lose several players in the Rule 5 draft.

--If the Marlins sign either Albert Pujols or C.J. Wilson, the Padres' second-round pick from Miami in next June's draft slips to a third-rounder. If the Marlins sign both, the pick slips to a fourth-round pick. The Padres still stand to have six of the top 60 picks in the draft, including the supplemental round pick for Bell.

--Byrnes said the Padres would be among a dozen teams with a scout in Texas next week to watch Chula Vista native Joel Zumaya throw. The reliever did not pitch in 2011 and much of 2010 due to a series of injuries.

--The Padres' Brian Prilaman has been named Major League Baseball's Traveling Secretary of the Year.

--Advance scout Scott Lonergan has departed the Padres to become an amateur scout for the Chicago Cubs.