Will Venable has been the source of frustration for Padres fans the last few seasons. He seems to have the abilities and talents to be a force, but has had difficulty sustaining any level of consistency. Last year, Venable was even sent to the minors, in an attempt to get his swing and confidence in order.
In 2012, Venable has actually been one of the Padres most consistent performers — which might be a testament to how poorly the Friars have played in 2012. Venable has put up very solid numbers, producing a triple-slash line of .277/.346/.480, with 5 HR’s and 14 RBI’s. Venable still strikes out a little too much, with 40 k’s in 193 plate appearances, but he is also walking a little more this year.
In the field, Venable has seemed to regress. He has made 6 errors already this year, and has a fielding percentage of just .934. If advanced fielding statistics are your thing, Venable has posted a UZR rating of -16.3 in 2012 — after being considered an above-average defender by the same metrics in recent years. The defensive output is a major concern, but Venable has established himself as a solid outfielder.
From the trade standpoint, Venable isn’t getting any younger, as he turns 30 in October. He is also starting to become a pricey option, which is always a concern for the low-budget Padres.
Venable qualified for Super-2 status for 2012, which means he has the opportunity to go to arbitration four times, instead of the standard three. Venable is making $1.475, and would be due for a raise in 2013 — which would surely be over $2 million. The Padres seem to view him as a platoon-player, as he does not start against most lefties.
With more teams contending this year because of the extra Wild-Card berth, there will be less sellers on the trade market. This bodes well for the Padres, as they should have attractive trade chips in both Venable and Carlos Quentin. One could even make a case that Venable might be one of the better bats available at the deadline. While Venable will not command the haul that Quentin likely would, Venable should command a decent prospect in return.
It seems like the front office has always been enamored with Venable’s tools, but a hopeless season, coupled with Venable’s rising cost and age, makes him a likely trade option, in my opinion. The Padres would be wise to explore options, but Venable is still under team control until 2016. It does not seem prudent for the Padres to pay such a premium for a platoon-player, with diminishing defensive ability. It would not be surprising to see Venable in another uniform this season.