Morning Coffee with Mark Whelan: Don’t Get Too Attached to these Padres


San Diego Padres starting pitcher

Odrisamer Despaigne

. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like every move the Padres are making right now is geared toward setting up the trade market for the team. After firing Josh Byrnes on Sunday, on Monday they put ace Andrew Cashner on the DL. Was he hurt? Or is this a way to make sure he doesn’t get hurt before they trade him away? As you have probably read here on Friars On Base, Cashner has turned down the overtures the Padres have made in offering him a long-term deal. He’s eligible to leave after 2016. Depending on how long the team thinks it will take to seriously compete, they may be looking to see what they can get for him now.

Cashner has the lowest ERA in the majors since last August 1, so his trade value now is exceptionally high. With him being under the team’s control through 2016, contending teams looking for an ace-level starter would have Cashner locked up at no worse than arbitration salary for 2.5 years. If he continues to pitch like he has, that would make him a $160-200 million player in 2017. If the Pads don’t see themselves paying him $22-28 million a year for seven years, then trading him now could bring in some big value.

Pitcher Robbie Erlin was moved from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL yesterday to make room for infielder Irving Falu, who was claimed off the waiver wire. Erlin has been out with elbow soreness since mid-May, but has been throwing for several weeks. The extended time on the DL takes him out to a week or two before the July 31 trading deadline. Ownership may feel he is more valuable now than he might be making several starts after elbow soreness, which may not show him in the best light. Erlin certainly has trade value, as a 23-year-old lefty, with pitching skills more advanced than his years. As a rookie making a nickel over the league minimum, the Pads wouldn’t be looking to save money, but with plenty of pitching and no hitting, every pitcher can be considered tradable.

There has been a distinct change in the type of pitchers the team has been calling up to make starts in place of injured major leaguers. Earlier in the season, when the Friars still felt like they might compete this year, they were bringing up older Triple-A pitchers like Billy Buckner and Jason Lane to make spot starts. Once ownership decided to pull the plug on this season, we started seeing lower-level, higher-ceiling prospects instead. Jesse Hahn, who had never pitched above Double-A, was suddenly on the hill at Petco. And Odrisamer Despaigne, the recent signee from the Cuban leagues, who put up a 6.03 ERA in seven games at Double-A and Triple-A, is the most recent prospect to be seen in a Padres’ uniform. This seems like a move to showcase their talent to drive up their trade value.

Hahn is certainly more valuable after making four starts at the major-league level. His 2.38 ERA and 27 Ks in 22 innings has really put him on other teams’ radar screens after strong numbers at Single-A ball last year, and 8 starts at Double-A this year. And it is no coincidence that Despaigne, who threw 7 innings of four-hit, shutout ball in his first start with the Padres, will make his third start on national TV during Fourth of July weekend.

Welcome to the new Padres. Don’t get too attached to any players.  Fowler, Dee, and company are getting ready to do their best Trader Jack McKeon impression.