Reviewing The Padres Winter Meetings
By Billy Brost
Now that the dust has settled, and the initial excitement over the San Diego Padres’ acquisition of Matt Kemp has subsided, we can take a step back, and review the week that was in San Diego, as the 2014 Baseball Winter Meetings came to a close on Thursday afternoon. While the Padres only made one “big splash” move, GM A.J. Preller was a busy man, and rumors galore came and went, some with legs, while others unsubstantiated, and were simply reported as rumors. It was interesting covering the Winter Meetings this week, and seeing the highs and lows in terms of reactions from Padres’ fans. Everything from same old Padres, to hurry up already, to less than impressive excitement over the Kemp deal, to pure joy that the Friars now have an impact bat to insert into the middle of their lineup. Another rumor that emerged today from the Kemp deal, is that the Padres sought A.J. Ellis in return, but the Dodgers rejected that idea.
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One rumor that continues to get discussed even after the conclusion of the Winter Meetings, is that GM A.J. Preller is not done tinkering with his lineup. He still needs to upgrade at both corner infield positions, but his most pressing need, regardless of where the person plays, is another impact bat to pair with Kemp. The most frequent name we keep hearing, is Atlanta Braves’ outfielder Justin Upton. He in entering the final year of his contract, and most likely hit the free agent market next winter regardless of where he is dealt. That can’t bode well for the Braves in terms of what they seek to get in return. Another site within the Fansided Network went off the rails somewhat in terms of what THEY expect the Braves to get for Upton. Names like Tyson Ross, Matt Wisler and cash were bundled together. What? That is nothing more than wishful thinking for a desperate franchise that is trying to stay relevant and retool on the fly.
I wrote about Upton coming to San Diego last night, as the MLB Radio Show Inside Pitch, were in firm agreement that the only logical landing spot for Upton is San Diego. Sure, it’s all speculation and rumor, but these rumors don’t just fall out of the sky. I believe Upton will be a Padre, at least in 2015, but not at the price that some of their fanbase think they’re going to get. For a guy that struck out almost 200 times last season, and can be moody when things don’t go his way, they’ll be lucky to get Ian Kennedy and a mid-tier pitching prospect in return, let alone San Diego’s best young pitcher, their best pitching prospect, AND money.
We didn’t hear anything about Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce coming to San Diego. Personally, this is the deal that I thought was most viable coming into the Winter Meetings, as Bruce is coming off of a down year, and the Reds, like the Braves, appear to be retooling on the fly. I’m not sure if talks have stalled, or if they were simply innuendo, but until we hear more, this is probably a dead deal.
The one rumor that seemed to get Padres fans in a tizzy, was when we reported “a rumor”, nothing more, nothing hardline based, that perhaps Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones might have some interest in returning to his hometown. We took a beating on Twitter for even suggesting such a thing, but listen, all we do here at Friars is provide information that comes down the pipe. We didn’t make it up, and Mike Costa of Fox Sports San Diego simply said he heard it in passing in the lobby of the hotel. He tweeted it, we shared it. Nothing more. So let it go folks. There are plenty of rumors that don’t come to fruition.
No other major deals came down, nor were there any other impact rumors surrounding the Padres during Winter Meetings week in San Diego. That didn’t mean that some other things didn’t occur. Coming into the week, A.J. Preller was confident that the Padres were going to be able to come to an agreement with Korean left-handed pitcher Kwang-hyun Kim. The team had a Thursday deadline to get the deal done, and by the end of the day, it as announced that they had failed, and Kim would return to Korea. Well, earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted the following, which may be the reason why Kim won’t be in San Diego:
Oops! Low-ball offer on an international prospect won’t get the deal done. That is for sure. Give Preller credit, he wasn’t going to throw an exorbitant amount of cash at nothing more than a middle of the road talent. If Kim and his team wanted him in the big leagues, they would’ve taken the offer, proven he can pitch at this level, and get his dollars up in two years.
The final bit of action for teams at the Winter Meetings, was the Rule 5 Draft. Fortunately for the Padres, none of their unprotected players were snatched up by anyone else, and they did pick up a minor league infielder in the Triple-A phase of the draft. Juan Carlos Gamboa, most recently with the Mets organization, is now coming to San Diego. The lefty hitter has some pop, and showed a good batting eye in Mexico this past season.
So there you have it! Four days of rumors, excitement, disappointment, tension, anger, angst and everything else rolled into one big event. The Winter Meetings for me, is like Christmas Eve. A.J. Preller showed me a lot as the team’s new GM, and hopefully he will continue rebuilding this lineup, to where a quality pitching staff with some impact hitters, can help make the Padres a Wild Card contender in 2015!