May 1, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley (7) is congratulated by left fielder Carlos Quentin (18) for hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. Cubs beat the Padres 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Advice to Ownership: Pay Chase Headley

The Padres have been playing much better baseball lately. They’ve won eight of their last eleven games and only sit five games off the pace in the NL West race. Outside of Clayton Richard, the starting pitching has stabilized and the offense has done enough to keep them in most ball games.

Last week, it was reported that Padres’ ownership was prepared to offer slugger Chase Headley a “record deal,” an offer that would be the biggest in the history of the franchise. However, Headley quickly came back and said that he would not negotiate a long term contract during the midst of the season, but would be happy to work out a deal during next off season.

If Headley is true to his word, this puts the Padres in a very tricky situation moving forward. They will either have to wait until the off season to discuss Headley’s long term future with the club (and risk not getting a deal done and have Headley walk to free agency, in which case the Padres would virtually lose him for nothing) or hedge their bet and trade Headley now while they can still get value back in return.

Headley is under team control through the 2014 season, which makes him an even more desirable 3B option for a pennant-seeking team. Coupled with the fact that it’s a very weak third-baseman market out there, the Padres would likely be able to get a “Latos-like” haul back for Headley if they decided to trade him before the July 31st trade deadline.

But what kind of message would that be sending from an ownership group that has promised change and has said they want to keep franchise-type players in San Diego?

The fan-base still does not trust this organization. Whether it’s controversial comments from President and CEO Tom Garfinkel, the on going Time Warner Cable fiasco, or trading away cornerstone players such as Jake Peavy, Adrian Gonzalez and Mat Latos (albeit under the old regime), the Padres have struggled with a PR image over the past several years. Shipping off Headley would be another huge blow to any hope of getting back in the good graces of the San Diego community.

While Headley is currently making around a-fairly-reasonable $8 million per year, he’ll likely get a significant salary bump if and when he hits free agency in the winter of 2014. If he gets to that point, the Padres would almost certainly get out-bid by another organization for Headley’s services.

Headley has said he won’t negotiate a long term deal during the season. However, he didn’t say he wouldn’t sign a deal during the season. So in my mind, the Padres should offer Headley a deal that he literally cannot refuse. Take away the negotiation piece. He said he wants to stay in San Diego. Ownership has said they want him to stay in San Diego. So advice to ownership: make it happen and stop making empty promises.

Otherwise, the Padres will find themselves in another lose-lose situation with the fan-base and will have to again explain why a franchise player was traded or let go just because they didn’t want to pay him market value.


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Tags: Adrian Gonzalez Chase Headley Clayton Richard Jake Peavy Mat Latos San Diego Padres Tom Garfinkel

  • ballybunion

    My best guess is that Ron Fowler misspoke. Quentin and Street signed extensions shortly after last season ended, and there’s no doubt there were discussions during the season. They were just kept quiet, for the very reason Headley cites, it can be a distraction with the press asking about the status of the talks, and speculating.

    I agree that Headley is the litmus test for the new owners, and they’re smart enough to know they have to pay to keep Headley and make him the face of the franchise. The report that the owners are “broke” doesn’t help, and it’s likely not true. Moorad spent 3-1/2 years keeping payroll down to reduce debt, and the new owners now have the $20 million in TV money and another $30 million from the MLB TV contract next year. That’s probably enough to put maximum payroll into the $95-$100 million range.

    My best guess is that Headley would rather stay in San Diego than hook up with fickle fans (and owners) of the Yankees, Phils, Cubs, or even Dodgers, IF the club is committed to putting a competitive team on the field, and the fence changes have had the desired effect of making Petco more fair. He should have a good idea by the time Byrnes QUIETLY sends an offer to Headley’s agent, and I think the Padres should be willing to wait until the end of the season to wrap it up.

  • Padres4life

    Headley will stay in SD…..they’ll pay him…they already know we don’t trust them as a fanbase, so they will want to change that image we have of them….by signing Headley long term.