As reported by The San Diego Union Tribune, Chase Headley may have many suitors during the upcoming Winter Meetings. While this may be true, and the Padres are pretty deep at third base, there is only one scenario in which trading Headley makes sense.
If the Padres can package Orlando Hudson or Jason Bartlett in the deal and get a decent return, the move could be beneficial. The club would be taking a short-term hit at third while waiting for Jedd Gyorko to develop, but would immediately have more salary to work with in the absence of Hudson or Bartlett.
The move is dangerous in the fact that Headley is one of three Padres position players showing promise. Headley, Nick Hundley, and Cameron Maybin were the highlights of a dismal 2011 season. Losing Headley without a great return would set the Padres back in their rebuilding. However, packaging Hudson or Bartlett in the trade makes the move much less risky.
Rumors are swirling about what the Padres will do for a closer and a set-up man, yet they already have a bullpen stocked with arms. A trade of Headley would need to attract a big bat to the club. A right fielder or a left fielder would be a nice addition. If the Padres give up Headley for a bullpen arm, it would be a travesty.
Headley is not your average bargaining chip. Any deal he would be a part of needs to be carefully calculated and executed with next season and the future of the club in mind. Headley’s time in San Diego has been well above the standards we generally see, and to see him go would be tough. Only if his trade netted the Padres something big would such a move be well received.