As complex as trade negotiations can get, the premise is simple; trade from a surplus to fill a need. Chase Headley is simply not coming back to them after this season, and the new management crew would like to get at least something for him before he bolts. With a team that’s out of the playoff chase, building up the farm is the next most important thing to do for the team right now.
After holding too long on his breakout 2012 campaign where he was worth 7.2 fWAR, Headley has done little to increase his trade value. He still was productive last year at 3.5 wins, but this year he fell off a cliff. He struggled around the Mendoza line to start the season, managing just a couple of home runs.
Then something clicked. Through his first six games in July, Headley is tearing the cover off the ball. He’s hitting at a .462 clip and a 200 wRC+, double the league average and more than double his total from any other month. Of course, he is due for some regression (batting averages nearing .500 only exist for my characters in MLB: The Show) but it still leaves you wondering, are the improvements real? Could this be more than just a hot stretch, could Headley be finding his form again?
These questions need to be answered, because otherwise this would be a pretty pointless article, and according to beat writer Corey Brock, Chase Headley has done more than just get lucky:
Headley has raised his BA 28 points since July 1. He's gone back to his old grip, the one that allows him to control the barrel better.
— Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) July 8, 2014
So if I’m understanding this correctly, Headley switched from his more successful grip to one that gives him less bat control? And it took him THREE MONTHS to change it??? But then again, who am I to criticize the third baseman, I’m not the one turning down $30MM+ contract offers.
So let’s get down to what you came here for, some gifs. As goes the song by Outkast, “Y’all don’t want to hear me you just wanna watch my gifs.”
If Headley really did need an adjustment to get back to these mashing ways, surely something is going to show up in his swing. Compare this swing from April 11 of this year and one from July 4, because no one is a bigger Independence Day fan than Headley:
The results probably look underwhelming, and if you were expecting a total overhaul then I can’t blame you. But Headley didn’t undergo an entire overhaul of his swing, remember, he just changed his grip. To find the adjustments, take a close look at his hands. He bounces them more in the recent gif, which allows him to open his elbow up for more strength in his swing. He’s also much closer to the end location, letting him react a fraction of a second later, but enough to help decide where to swing, if at all.
Headley’s return to form is quite literally just that. He moved his hands back to their old spot, and is getting better results because of it. All of a sudden Headley is once again a valuable trade piece for the Padres. With rumors abound of the Blue Jays and Yankees interested in him, it really gets you ready for what prospects we can pry away. Will the Jays give up top starting prospect Aaron Sanchez, maybe in a packaged deal with one of our starters? Can we get the pure hitting 3B Mitch Nay, who also promises 20+ homer power? Maybe even the Yankees would be willing to entertain trading some of their exceptionally athletic outfielders, like Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams or Tyler Austin. Or if we create another package, it’s possible we could pry away top catcher prospect Gary Sanchez or power 3B Eric Jagielo.
Chase Headley is being as helpful to the Padres as ever, in more ways than one. Not only is his offensive outburst making the team more fun to watch, but he’s also upping his trade level. Shipping him off now seems like an inevitable, and the return projects to be better by the day.