The Padres prospects at shortstop are not much better than second base. We’ve covered the club’s desire to trade Bartlett. We’ve covered Evereth Cabrera and his up and down career. What are we left with? We’re left with questions. Right now, Bartlett is the Padres shortstop. However, the upcoming winter meetings could mean changes at the position.
My analysis from November 16th still rings true. The Padres aren’t going to get a free agent shortstop who can produce any better than Bartlett. What they can do is make a trade. The trade would have to be a package deal. The Padres would also likely have to make a couple trades. A team giving up their shortstop in a trade usually has plans for his replacement. If the Padres were to trade for a shortstop, the team losing theirs would not take Bartlett. So what do the Padres have to offer?
They have prospects. Teams are always in search of pitching, and the Padres have a few they could offer up. Casey Kelly would be the biggest trade bait for teams around the league. He was considered to be the Red Sox best pitching prospect when he was traded as part of the deal to send Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. In January of this year, Baseball America ranked Kelly the Padres number one prospect. Kelly had a decent 2011 with the Double-A San Antonio Missions. He finished with a 3.98 ERA in 142.1 innings pitched. The upside for Kelly, more than his talent, is his age. He is just 22.
Marco Scutaro is the first name that jumps out at me. However, the Red Sox may not be inclined to trade him for Kelly considering Kelly was once in the Red Sox organization. That being said, any deal that could bring Scutaro to San Diego would be a good one. He seems to be getting better with age. At 36, Scutaro posted his best triple-slash of his career at .299/.358/.423. And it wasn’t a fluke. He has been on an upward slope since 2007. Unfortunately, Scutaro would be nothing more than a rental unless the Padres could trade for him and sign him to a contract extension. His contract is up after the 2012 season.
Another option from the Red Sox is Jed Lowrie. Lowrie is younger, makes less, and has tremendous upside. However, those three things make him a difficult trade target. Lowrie would probably command more in trade than Scutaro, but may provide the Padres with a long-term solution at shortstop. Perhaps he is nothing more than a pipe dream, but he is under team control until the 2015 season and would be a wonderful target for a relatively cheap salary.
Always looking to find returns on their younger players, the Rays may be willing to part with Sean Rodriguez. A trade involving Rodriguez would certainly require at least a couple prospects. The Rays won’t lose a 26 year old shortstop under team control until 2016 for just any old player. They want talent and they want it cheap. This trade is intriguing because the Rays and the Padres both have good farm systems. The Padres may be able to part with a player like Kelly and Robbie Erlin in order to obtain a young shortstop to help shore up their infield. The only risk with Rodriguez is his lack of performance to date. In 320 career games, Rodriguez has only managed a .229/.307/.367 line. Still, he may be worth the risk.
The Padres need something exciting at shortstop. Not since Khalil Greene have Padres fans been able to get excited about their shortstop. And we all know what happened with Greene. Should the team indeed trade Bartlett, they will need to get someone who can provide an immediate boost or can be a long-term help at the position.