Carlos Quentin was brought to San Diego to add some much needed pop into a league-worst offense. Josh Byrnes figured he could add some offense and in a worst case scenario make nice trade bait by the July 31st trade deadline. What Byrnes may not have bet on was a spring training injury that has kept Quentin out of the lineup and the Padres horrid start to the year.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports speculated on Monday that the Padres may be looking at their options with Quentin already, including a possible trade. The Padres are 5-14, already 8 games back in the division. Only the Angels are further back in any division at 8.5 games. While Quentin may give the team a slight boost in offense, it’s unlikely his addition will cure the team’s ailment.
San Diego, as Rosenthal reports, may have a tough time trading Carlos Quentin for two reasons. First, Quentin’s contract expires at the end of this year. With the new CBA, a team will only get draft pick compensation when they offer a soon-to-be free agent a contract if that player had been on the team for the entire year. If the Padres trade Quentin to a team with no intentions of extending Quentin’s contract, that team will receive nothing in return when he enters free agency. Secondly, Quentin’s injury and playing in Petco Park could diminish his value, and the Padres may not receive as much interest as they would like.
Josh Byrnes and the Padres may consider extending Carlos Quentin so that they have a proven outfielder to cover left field, but if they did so, the team would likely have to go beyond a one year extension. One year deals almost always cost more per season. Most figures indicate Quentin would get around $12 million for a one-year contract. However, a multi-year deal may be in the Padres’ price range. If they were to extend Quentin at some point this season, it would give them a better opportunity to trade him during the off-season or next year. With a few years of service available on his contract, other teams in the league should show more interest.
This all, of course, hinges on Quentin’s play with San Diego. He has only played eight games at Petco Park in his career and the results are far from spectacular. In those eight games, Quentin has had 23 plate appearances and hit .053/.217/.105. Eight games is not enough to make a judgement about a player’s ability, but it certainly doesn’t bode well when factoring the history of offensive struggles that face most players who come to San Diego. Should Quentin come back in May and struggle through to the trade deadline, the prospects of a trade decrease even more.
San Diego will have their work cut out for them in how to handle Quentin. The team needs to get better in a hurry. They have prospects very near ready on the minor league level, but they lack outfield depth. Trading Quentin would need to net them near Major League-ready talent for the outfield or another proven Major Leaguer. Yet, without a contract extension and without knowing how successful Quentin will be in San Diego, teams may not be as interested in him as they were last season at the deadline.
With the second worst record in baseball, the sixth fewest runs scored, and the most errors committed, not much has gone right for San Diego this season. They need to make the right call on Quentin’s future. They need Quentin to be successful. They need to change the course of the season whether it be through improved play, a contract extension, or a trade.