Jason Bartlett Released: Who Steps Up to the Plate to Become Replacement at SS?

Michael ClineCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2012

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Jason Bartlett #8 of the San Diego Padres poses for a portrait during a photo day at Peoria Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

Back in April, it looked to be a make-or-break year for 32-year-old Jason Bartlett, who had been acquired before the 2011 season. The Padres had moved four players, including Cesar Ramos, to land the middle infielder. And after a decent 2011, Bartlett was supposed to be back for more.

Not so fast. Bartlett was quickly sidelined with a knee injury, an ailment that still prevents him from playing. He went on the DL in mid-May. Even before the injury, the Padres landed young Alexi Amarista in exchange for relief pitcher Ernesto Frieri.

When Bartlett had been healthy this season, he didn't look impressive. His stats had been in decline; blame Petco Park, blame age. But in just under 100 appearances at the plate, all Jason could muster was a .133 batting average with an OBP of .240. That clearly is a major problem, because Bartlett was brought in to get on base. With those numbers, Bartlett on base wasn't a reality.

A combination of an extensive knee injury and declining stats has led to San Diego releasing their hurt shortstop, according to a San Diego Padres press release. Jason will be paid $1.5 million from the buyout; the Padres will receive a fresh start at shortstop.

And depending on how much San Diego has to spend this offseason, the Padres could look within the organization to find the middle infielder of the future or scour the market for a free agent at the position.

Alexi Amarista is a strong candidate to take over at shortstop. This young prospect has definitely proved himself this season. Amarista has a .259 BA with an on-base percentage of .297. Clearly Alexi has been a step up in his first season in the majors compared to Bartlett. Amarista also has hit five home runs and has driven in 26, while stealing seven bags.

The Padres could also keep Alexi at second base and keep the inconsistent Everth Cabrera at short.

Another option would be to grab a shortstop in the offseason. There are many potential free agents, including Marco Scutaro, Jhonny Peralta, Ronny Cedeno and even Stephen Drew. These options could be worth anywhere from a couple million a year to $10 million.

No matter what move the Padres make to improve at short, releasing Jason Bartlett was the right choice. The soon-to-be 33-year-old had no trade market and was worth more off the team than on. This move should also make room for another young infielder to get some playing time in before the 25-man rosters expand.