In last week’s Union-Tribune Live Chat (via MLB Trade Rumors.com) with Padres Beat Writer Bill Center, one reader brought up the possibility of Relief Pitcher Luke Gregerson being on the trading block. In his response, Center elaborated on the topic and discussed how the Friars might benefit from trading Gregerson. With Center’s response to the question in mind, I thought that I would share some of my thoughts on the possibility of Gregerson being traded, and whether or not it would be a viable move for the organization to make.
Pros to Trade
In terms of young Bullpen depth ready to replace Gregerson if a trade was made, the Padres have plenty to work with. Brad Brach (2012 Stats: 2-4, 3.78 ERA, 67 Appearances, 66.2 IP, 75 K’s) and Andrew Cashner (assuming he is not in the Starting Rotation, 3-4, 4.27 ERA, 33 Appearances, 46.1 IP, 52 K’s), each gained a solid amount of big League experience last season from the bullpen, while Brad Boxberger (0-0, 24 Appearances, 2.60 ERA, 27.2 IP, 33 K’s) and Cory Burns (0-1, 5.50 ERA, 17 Appearances, 18.0 IP, 18 K’s) made their big League debuts as well. In addition to those four, Center alluded to two prospects, Kevin Quackenbush (0-0, 2.45 ERA, 11.0 IP, 6 Saves, 16 K’s) and Matthew Stites (1-0, 3.21 ERA, 14.0 IP, 15 K’s), which have enjoyed solid Arizona Fall League seasons so far, and appear ready to make big league contributions in the near future.
As comforting as the depth behind Gregerson projects to be, arguably the most beneficial part of moving their solid Reliever would be the fact that he could be traded in exchange for help in other areas on the roster, most notably Starting Pitching.
Center, like the rest of us Padres fans understand what an issue Starting Pitching was last season, and a player like Gregerson could garner interest from other teams around the League. Last season, Gregerson did garner some interest around the League during the Summer as a possible trade option, but the Padres did not pull the trigger on a deal (including one rumored to the Mets). If the Friars do make their Reliever available, I am sure that any team looking to upgrade their Bullpen would be willing to see what San Diego wants in return for Gregerson’s services.
Cons to Trade
While pros definitely would exist if the Padres decided to deal Gregerson, the move would not be without some significant cons. First and foremost, Gregerson is not only San Diego’s most veteran (in terms of years with the Padres) member of the Bullpen, but has also been the most consistent, effective, and healthy as well.
Last season, Gregerson bounced back after a tough 2011 to post a 2-0 Record, a 2.39 ERA, and 72 Strikeouts in 77 Games (71.2 IP). In addition to those numbers, Luke most importantly filled in admirably (along with Dale Thayer) when Huston Street went down during the summer with an injury and recorded 9 Saves. And while it is nice to project the future of some of the fine players the Padres are grooming to insert into their Bullpen, Gregerson is much more of a known quantity at this point in his career (28 Years Old). The veteran already has 4 seasons of big League experience under his belt, and has made 290 career Appearances since 2009. The kind of veteran leadership and savvy a player like Gregerson could bring to the Bullpen would really help some of these younger players along over the next couple of seasons as they see significant playing time in hopefully some meaningful situations.
Trading Gregerson right now, meaning this current offseason, would be hasty unless an idiotic team (cough*Marlins*cough) was willing to unload some Starting Pitching in a deal too good to ignore. In my opinion, the Padres brass would be best served to allow the 2013 season to progress some before they even begin to think about moving arguably their most consistent and long-standing Bullpen member. If by some miracle the Friars are still in the hunt during the summer months, Luke would likely be a key cog in San Diego’s success. In the event the Padres do indeed reel off wins en route to a solid season, San Diego could hold on to Gregerson until the end of the year and still receive something in return in a trade down the road as he will not be a Free Agent until 2015.
If in fact the Padres are out of the postseason race by mid-summer though, Gregerson could be a valuable trading-chip to a bullpen-needy contending team. The best analogy I can think of is the “Adams to Texas” trade which netted two Starting Pitching prospects for the Friars’ then-fantastic Setup-Man.
I am extremely interested in what unfolds and whether or not Gregerson is dealt at some point this offseason or during the 2013 season. The facts are what they are though: the Padres need starting pitching and they might try to fill the void via a trade. Will Gregerson be used as a part of a trade to obtain the Starting Pitching? Maybe, but we will just have to wait and see.