Padres want one six-year free agent

There are a number of six-year minor league free agents that the Padres are cornering. Some won't be back, but there remains one priority on the list and it is at catcher.

The Padres re-signed right-hander Mike Thompson, the first six-year eligible free agent to return.

The list of free agents to be on the minor league side is long but one player they would like back is Nick Trzesniak. He has been termed a priority within the organization and the expectation is he will be signed at some point.

Not so fast. The Trzesniak camp will test the market at the very least with knowledge that a strong defensive catcher is a coveted commodity. They are looking for an ideal situation to put him and San Diego actually could be the best spot for him.

Expect a deal to get done. This is the Padres' top priority on the six-year side and they have been proactive in offering him decent numbers.

The Triple-A Portland roster is full of players who will not be back and some interesting candidates who could be lured to return.

Two players who are on a short list of candidates to return include Jason Kershner and Scott Cassidy.

Kerhsner has seen Major League action in three seasons and was a great pickup midway through the year in Portland. This was his second tour in San Diego with the last time culminating in a 15-game stint with the Padres.

Cassidy was a bright spot down the stretch for the Beavers. At 30 years old he is a veteran reliever who had spent nearly all of 2002 in the Majors. He has not been back. But given his success in the San Diego system and their penchant for tapping into the Triple-A roster to get relief help, Cassidy may view this as an ideal situation – assuming the Padres are also interested, which has not been confirmed.

Another interesting player to look for is Brian Sweeney. He was recruited back to Portland last year after trying to work elsewhere. The Padres were hot on his tail when he was released and could be an interesting partner again this year.

One big name player who is not expected to return is Brad Baker, the former closer in Portland. Word is the Padres were not enamored with how he handled his demotion from the closer's role.

The former first round pick had a dreadful year, falling back into old habits. Blessed with a solid changeup, his ability to locate pitches abandoned him. It could mean a new venue next year.

Other players not expected to be offered deals include catcher Michel Hernandez, right-hander Marty McLeary, first baseman Joe Gerber, outfielder Bobby Scales, shortstop Wilson Valdez and infielder Jesse Garcia.

All are free to test the market as of Saturday.

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