Chase Headley is the first real infield candidate the Padres can build around. He has shown continued improvement at the hot corner and may provide the Padres years of plus talent at the position.
But what if he doesn’t?
First, let’s look at what Headley has done in his career and what his trend lines looks like.
Headley is not a prototypical third baseman and probably never will be. While Petco Park stifles power numbers, Headley’s career high in home runs of 12 is a number you’d more expect from a shortstop or second baseman. However, he gets on base, scores runs, and is reducing his strikeout totals.
Below are Headley’s yearly OPS numbers and his trendline:
As you can see, the trendline is sloping up which is promising. Yet, the consistent increase in OPS isn’t there yet.
Now look at his yearly WAR and trendline:
Again, we see an upward trendline but an overall graph of peaks and valleys. I’d like to see Headley consistently putting up at least 3 WAR.
Finally, let’s look at Headley’s strikeouts:
He reduced his strikeouts dramatically last season. He will need to continue this trend as long as he isn’t a power hitter. If he develops power, the strikeouts can be forgiven. That seems unlikely though.
Overall, at 27 years old, Headley provides the Padres a very good option at third. On the other hand though, he does have some solid trade value. He is under team control until 2015, but his contract value is starting to climb. If the Padres can renegotiate the contract for somewhere around four years, $12.5 million, they’d be in great shape. If they can’t and have to rely on arbitration, Headley may start to out-price himself. With Jedd Gyorko waiting in the wings, the Padres may not be completely against trading Headley.
Headley is a good fit for the Padres, but Josh Byrnes and the team will have to weigh the cost/benefit of keeping him verse trading him.