If you readers have not already seen the good news, the Friars locked up Carlos Quentin over the weekend. The deal is worth $27 million and extends over 3 years with an option for another and a no trade clause. In my humble opinion, this was a heady move by the Front Office, and illustrated that the franchise was truly committed to their cleanup hitter and most potent power threat being a part of their extensive rebuilding project.
Focusing on Quentin’s extension is a solid thing to do in the present, and news of his extension should be one of the leading stories not only on Chicken Friars, but on any and all Padres’ themed websites over the next few days (official or otherwise). Today however, I would like to focus on a player which might be affected the most by Quentin’s continued in San Diego, as well as how his trade value could help the Padres in the long run: Matt Clark.
How Clark is Directly Affected and His Minor League Production
It was bad enough for Clark that Rookie Yonder Alonso essentially entrenched himself as the long-term starter at First Base. But now that Quentin has been extended and will likely (barring injury) be a staple in Left Field for the remainder of his contract, it is beginning to look like Clark might be the odd-man out if he makes the Padres’ roster in the near future. And what makes this entire situation a bit of a downer has been that Clark has really done a solid if not under-the-radar terrific job throughout his Minor League career.
Clark has spent the last two seasons in Triple-A with the Tucson Padres, and at least to me, has performed well enough during his time there to receive an extended shot in the big leagues. After being promoted from Double-A San Antonio before the season began, Clark did a fine job in 2011 with the T-Pads. On the year, Clark logged a .292 Batting Average, hit 23 Home Runs, 24 Doubles, 83 RBI’s, put up a .363 On-Base Percentage, and slugged .498. As good as Clark’s 2011 campaign was, his efforts over the first two-thirds of 2012 have him on pace to exceed his previous season’s totals. So far, Clark has hit .305 with 18 Home Runs, 23 Doubles, 56 RBI’s, logged a .370 OBP, and a .528 SLG!
Alas, with Alonso and Quentin already at First Base and in Left Field, as well as Chris Denorfia and Will Venable sharing the duties in Right Field (Clark did play in 14 Games there in 2011), Clark’s chances to contribute in the long-run with the Padres could be limited due to the amount of players on the depth chart and the limited number of reps for each to share.
Still, the productivity which he has shown at the Triple-A level could turn out to be a positive for the Friars near either the trade deadline at the end of the month, or when the 2012 regular season ends. Granted, I am not a General Manager, and I am not exactly sure how big the market will inevitably become for Clark’s services. Yet I would have to say that the market for a 25 year-old 6’5” 215 lb. First Baseman/Left Fielder/Designated Hitter which has hit consistently at every level of the minor leagues, has displayed a decent amount of pop along the way, and can field both of his positions at an adequate level should garner at least a bit of a buzz around the League.
What the Padres Could Use
If some teams are indeed interested in acquiring Clark via trade, and the organization believes that a deal is worthy of sending him elsewhere, there are some holes on San Diego’s roster which can be upgraded and helped:
One such area which could use an infusion of youth and some added depth is the pitching staff. Sure, the Padres are trying to lock up Huston Street for at least the 2013 season and beyond, and youngsters Brad Boxberger and Cory Burns figure to be staples in the future. Regardless, the Padres will definitely need some arms for long relief and Hold situations if Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and some of the other veterans end up leaving. If this happens, it would not hurt San Diego to beef up the back end of their bullpen to hedge their bets.
As for needs around the rest of the diamond, the Friars might be wise to be on the lookout for a Middle Infielder. Do not get me wrong, I must tip my cap to Alexi Amarista, Logan Forsythe, and Everth Cabrera for their collective performance over the last month, but if the Padres move Chase Headley and Jedd Gyorko is indeed moved to Third Base, the Friars could stand to use a Middle Infielder to challenge this group, especially if the acquired player can provide some big time Offensive contributions.
In a way, Clark’s situation reminds me of Yonder Alonso’s in Cincinnati around November 2011: Solid Triple-A player which displayed productivity and the plate and in the field which deserved promotion to the big leagues. Unfortunately, Joey Votto blocked Alonso’s path at First Base, and Alonso was not deemed the Reds’ answer in Left Field. Thus, Yonder was sent packing as a valuable trading piece to the Padres in exchange for pitching help in the form of Mat Latos, and Cincinnati was able to use a talented Triple-A player to fill a more pressing need on their roster.
Granted, it might be a bit of a gamble to trade a talented and consistent player like Clark. But as it might stand come the end of this season, his services might not be needed for the Padres due to their recently extended power-source in Left Field, and a young, talented, and improving Left-Handed bat already manning the First Base spot. Thus, it will be of the utmost importance that if the Friars do indeed decide to be sellers with a prospect or two of theirs like Clark, what is received in exchange must add to areas of their roster which must be upgraded and will be needed for future postseason runs.
So what should the Padres do, readers?: Should San Diego be content with Alonso and Quentin at First Base and in Left Field? Or should Clark be given a shot over both of them? Or should the Padres trade Clark if an opportunity to help the ballclub in other areas arises?
Statistics Courtesy of: Baseball Reference