Heyman | Padres seek stopgap SS while grooming Tatis

Sep 15, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (2) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO — The San Diego Padres believe top shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., who’s only 18, could be ready within a year or so, so they are in the market for a stopgap shortstop and are looking at free agent Alcides Escobar, among others.

Tatis has risen to the top of the prospect rankings following his ascension over the last year — he posted an .877 OPS between Class-A and Double-A last year ‎ — and San Diego could envision him making an appearance in the majors by the end of next year. He’s ranked among the top prospects in baseball no matter who’s doing the ranking.

Escobar may be the most logical one-year fill-in for the Padres, and they are known to have interest. Zack Cozart is the top free agent shortstop, but he’ll get a multiyear deal, and the Padres don’t want to impede Tatis.

The free agent shortstop list is anything but deep, and to date they haven’t seemed as interested in Jose Reyes or Ruben Tejada. There’s also J.J. Hardy, Alexi Amarista and others on the list.

San Diego finished fourth in the NL West last year, only ahead of the San Francisco Giants, with a record of 71-91. Their .438 win percentage was seventh-worst in baseball.

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