This year’s trade season was one the most wild and crazy in recent memory. Unfortunately for the Padres, they were one of the few teams on the sellers end of the market. Although as fans we don’t get the immediate pay off of watching a new addition help our team in a pennant race, can be equally exciting looking at the return and thinking about what these new prospects mean for the Padres’ future.
The first shoe to drop this year was Padre closer Huston Street. In his 3 seasons here in San Diego, he made 131 appearances recording 80 saves to the tune of a 2.03 ERA. Street was a logical choice to go, because in a pitching starved market an elite closer is immensely valuable. The Angels were a great destination for him due to the uncertainty in their bullpen. They shipped out their closer to begin the year, former Padre Ernesto Frieri, and brought in Jason Grilli and another former Padre, Joe Thatcher. Adding a bona fide closer to the mix completed the remodeled pen and made them look like a true threat to the A’s (at least up until today). Pitching prospect Trevor Gott was also sent in this deal.
For the Padres they got what was considered the top of the Angels farm system. The headline was Taylor Lindsay, a power hitting second baseman whose arrival seemed to foreshadow a Chase Headley deal that would allow Jedd Gyorko to move back to third base. He is currently in AAA and close to being big league ready. The other position player they received was shortstop Jose Rondon. Rondon is a great contact hitter with some speed who profiles as a lead off hitter, but his defense is lacking and may be forced to move out of short. The two pitchers they Padres received were R.J. Alvarez and Elliot Morris. Alvarez is a reliever with electric stuff who currently has an ERA of 0.29 in 31 1/3 innings in AA. Morris is high upside starter who has posted decent numbers in the different levels of A ball.
All in all Street was not going to help bring the Padres to the World Series this year, and they got 4 prospects who could have huge impact in the future. Lindsay in particular who could be a regular in the Padre lineup as soon as 2015. He may have been under contract for next year, but Street’s value was never going to be higher and the Padres struck while the iron was hot.
Chase Headley soon there after followed Street out the door. Although the Yankees have the odds stacked against them, beefing up the offense in the infield was something they needed to if they were serious about contending in 2014. Headley right away proved he was worth the price right away with a walk off in his first game as a Yankee.
In return the Padres got an underwhelming package for someone who was recently an MVP candidate. Since his MVP year Headley dropped off to a .245/.331/.387 hitter with just 21 home runs in 2013 and 2014. The only choice for the Padres was to dump this one time budding superstar for whatever they could get. What they got was Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula. Solarte was career minor league journey man until he burst on to the scene this year. He looked like he could win the batting title after his first couple months with the Yankees until he hit a dramatic drop off. The Padres are taking a shot in the dark with him and his 2 homers and a 1.016 OPS in 8 games has given the fans something to cheer about. The real return though is De Paula. He has a plus fastball and is working on his secondary pitches. He’s been inconsistent from time to and has seen his velocity dip late in starts. He’s far from a sure thing, but there’s a lot of potential in that arm.
This was the only deal the Padres made on the actual deadline day. Outside of San Diego it didn’t garner much attention, because it happened just as the David Price rumors started to gain steam. The Marniers were desperate for bats to put around Robinson Cano and Deno and the acquisition of Austin Jackson does just that for them.
On the Padres end they find themselves with outfielder Abraham Almonte and pitcher Stephen Kohlscheen. Almonte began the year in the majors with Seattle where he struggled mightily hitting .198 in 27 games. In AAA this year his numbers are down for a year ago slashing just .267/.333/.390. He’s never been touted as a top prospect and his time in the majors and AAA have proven that his exclusion from top prospect lists were well founded. Kohlscheen isn’t a heralded prospect either he’s perfromed well enough to work his way throw the minors, but he lacks a dominant pitch or any major velocity. His best pitch is his sinker, so he generates alot of ground ball outs and might profile best as a reliever.
In those three deals the Padres did the best they could to extract the most value out of the guys they had to trade. While Denorfia and Headley failed to return anything really sexy the interim front office was able to accumulate some assets for the future. While this trade season should be deemed a success we can also look at the move the Padres did not make.
In a year where there weren’t too many sellers, and pitching in high demand the Padres must have received plenty of interest on the members of their rotation. Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy are all under contract beyond this year and would provide significant upgrades over several teams middle of the rotation arms. With major league talent like Allen Craig, Austin Jackson and Yoenis Cespedes all on the move for starting pitching you have to wonder if the Padres were ever in the mix for any of them. If you’ve watched the 2014 Padres you’d know that offense has been their biggest weakness. With a fully stocked rotation plus some guys who are poised for 2015 returns after bouts with injury leaves the Padres with a glut of starters and still no offense. While we’ll never know if they were ever involved in making a deal for a controllable bat, it is disappointing to see the team not use their surplus to address a need.
Perhaps the most surprising player not be dealt this month is Joaquin Benoit. Benoit has become the Padres closer after the departure of Street, but there was a lot of speculation that he would follow Street out the door. With another year of control there was no need to deal Benoit if a deal wasn’t there, and the value he has added to the back end of the bullpen has been tremendous this year. I can understand keeping Benoit as a veteran leader in a young pen especially if there wasn’t a compelling return for him.
Overall, this was a good trade season for the Padres, but it could have been better. They made the smart obvious moves, but failed strike on the big move that could have set up the team to contend as soon as 2015. I’ll go to bed happy tonight, but I’ll still be dreaming about more.