In the wee hours of the morning on day one of the Winter Meetings ESPN’s Buster Olney was hard at work tweeting out all the latest information he had gathered. Among his barrage of tweets there was one in particular that caught my eye.
The reason this was so interesting to me was because of this tweet from Fox Sport’s Ken Rosenthal back in mid November.
While neither Rosenthal nor Olney actually said that the Indians and Padres are in, have had or are going to be in trade discussions at any point, you can put 2 and 2 together. The Indians have a clear need for starting pitching, the Padres have a clear need for offense and the Indians are discussing trades involving big league players on both sides.
I think that it’s reasonable to presume that the Padres and Indians could be working on deal that has a chance to get done during the Winter Meetings. So what exactly would a trade of that nature look like?
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Looking at the Indians 40 man roster, the options are thin. I would assume Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes are likely off limits and from there, the options aren’t exactly awe inspiring. Jason Kipnis is coming off of a down year, but he was an All Star in 2013 and he could bounce back into the player he was just a short time ago.
That being said the Indians probably think the same thing and it would take a big haul to take him away from them. If the Padres meet the Indians demands for Kipnis they could find themselves with another Jedd Gyorko situation, and I’m guessing the club would like to avoid that.
The two players who are the most realistic options are their two first baseman, Carlos Santana and Nick Swisher. Santana would be a great addition to the Padres, he’s exactly what they need. He’s a power hitting bat from the right side who gets on base at an exceptional rate. While his average was down this year he compensated for it with an increase of walks and home runs. He’s also under contract for the next 2 seasons with an option for 2017.
The only downside is how much it’ll take to acquire him. One of Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross might not be enough to pry him from Cleveland, so the Padres would have to be creative. If the Indians are desperate for pitching they may be forced to go this route, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
As for Swisher, he’s a far less attractive option. Last year was a lost season for him as a he struggled with a knee injury that limited him to just 97 games and likely hurt his production. Even with the knee injury a slash line of .208/.278/.331 coupled with $30 million over the next 2 seasons with a vesting option of $14 million should scare off most teams, but the Padres are having a tough time finding anyone to produce in their lineup.
When healthy Swisher has been an impact bat, and while he’s not the same hitter he once was, he can still be a force in the Padres lineup. If you look at his number from 2011 to 2013 he hit .259/.360/.448 while averaging 23 homers and 80 RBI with an OPS+ of 120. If he can produce anywhere near that, that’s an upgrade for the Padres. If the Indians are willing to eat a significant portion of Swisher’s salary it could be worth it.
So all in all, the Padres and Indians aren’t a perfect match for a trade, but they could make some things work. I wouldn’t expect them to make a deal at the Winter Meetings, but I wouldn’t be shocked either.