The log jams equal trades. The jam at first base has been discussed thoroughly, with many including myself assuming Anthony Rizzo will be traded at some point. Getting less attention was the log jam at catcher that essentially forced the Padres’ move today. Luis Martinez, who got a bit of Major League experience at the end of last season, was shipped off to Texas for pitcher Ryan Kelly.
Martinez had very little chance of finding himself back in a Padres uniform next season with the additions of
David John Baker and Yasmani Grandal. In addition, the Padres have a highly-rated prospect at catcher in Austin Hedges. Rather than let Martinez fight for time in the minor league season and hope for an occasional call-up, they traded him for someone who has a better chance at someday contributing to the team.
Ryan Kelly, a 24-year old righty, spent the 2011 season at Class-A Myrtle Beach. He started five games, but found himself primarily shouldering relief duties. Kelly has spent parts of five seasons in the minor league systems of Pittsburgh and Texas. He has a career ERA of 4.50 and has not been able to crack the Double-A level. He is, however, expected to be given a shot with the Padres Double-A affiliate San Antonio Missions. Kelly has struggled in his minor league career giving up too many hits per 9 (9.1), striking out too few per 9 (8.0), and walking too many per 9 (2.2). For a starter these numbers may be passable, but for a reliever they’re frightening.
It doesn’t seems as though Kelly will get a shot anytime soon, but he was a gamble worth taking. Martinez could have been wasted at Triple-A or the Padres could have tried to get something for him. Josh Byrnes and crew chose the latter. It’s a low-risk gamble that, if it works out and Kelly contributes at the Major League level, makes Josh Byrnes lool like a genius.
At minimum, no one can say the Padres aren’t doing anything. They’ve made plenty of moves already this off-season to try and make the team better.