The Padres will spend (some) in free agency …

New San Diego Padres general manager Jed Hoyer told me on Thursday that the team plans to spend in free agency, though the payroll will again be in the $40-million range as it was a year ago.

The Padres improved 12 games from 2008 despite a lowered payroll that went from roughly $70 million in 2007 to $43 million a year ago. That figure won’t change much, though the Padres did get Jake Peavy and Brian Giles off the book in the last year.

“As far as approaching free agency, we’re not going to be major players
for free agents because of the size of our payroll,” Hoyer said. “But we’re going to go after targets
we like … aggressively. We have money in the budget to spend on free
agency.”

The Padres already have $11 million wrapped up in two players
— starting pitcher Chris Young ($6.25 million) and first baseman
Adrian Gonzalez ($4.75) — as well as another $1 million in second
baseman David Eckstein.

Counting Young, Gonzalez and Eckstein, and if Bell, Correia, Kouzmanoff
and Adams receive raises that amount to, say, $12 million, then that’s
$24 million. The rest of the roster is comprised of players who made
the minimum salary of $400,000 in 2009 or slightly more.

The Padres want a right-handed bat and some help for the starting rotation. This can be had through free agency, some of it. But trades might be the way the Padres go to improve their team in 2010.

— Corey Brock, Twitter: @FollowThePadres

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