Padres News: Full Breakdown Of The Craig Kimbrel Trade


Alright everyone you can breath easy now.

When Jon Lester threw the first pitch of the 2015 season, the winter of Preller had officially ended, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t end it with a BANG.

Yesterday, in Preller’s final act, the San Diego Padres acquired Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. from the Braves in exchange for Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Matt Wisler and Jordan Paroubeck and the 41st overall pick.

This might have been the most surprising move A.J. Preller has made. It seemed like all that there was left to do, was move either Maybin or Quentin, and he was able to move both and bring back arguably the best closer in baseball in return.

The real cost was a top pitching prospect, a 2013 second round pick, and $50 million over three years.

So, is it an even trade? Well, first off, the Padres aren’t just taking on salary, they’re dumping some as well. Here’s the money break down year by year.

[table id=17 /]

So as you can see, the Padres are taking a sizable amount of salary over the next four seasons, but getting Quentin and Maybin’s contracts off the books, without eating a cent of it, is still a minor victory.

Overall, if they pick up Kimbrel’s 2019 option, the Padres are adding $66.5 million over four seasons, but $46 million is going to Kimbrel. So with the money saved, they’re only losing $20.5 million, spread out over three seasons.

It may not be ideal, but it’s far from a back breaking contract.

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The other losses are the draft pick and two prospects.

The pick going to the Braves is a competitive balance pick. While regular picks can’t be moved, the sandwich picks in between rounds can be. The 41st overall pick is very valuable, but draft picks are lottery tickets, and we can’t predict what the Padres would have done with the pick had they kept it. That being said, with a system that is thinning out with each move A.J. Preller makes, a pick to restock the farm is even more valuable. It’s value increased even more when the Padres lost their first round pick to the Kansas City Royals after signing James Shields.

The prospects, on the other hand, we can project a little.

The big loss is Matt Wisler. Wisler was the Padres top pitching prospect and was potentially their top overall prospect, depending on how high some people are on Austin Hedges or Hunter Renfroe. Wisler was considered to be just about, if not already, big league ready. While he struggled in AAA, it was in the hitter friendly PCL. The Braves will be bad enough they can include Wisler in their rotation and his performance won’t sink or swim their season.

Paroubeck is more of a wild card. After being drafted in the second round by the Padres in 2013, he put up decent numbers in Rookie ball this past year. In Fangraphs’ breakdown of the trade, Jeff Sullivan referred to him as “Toolsy, and very young, but, fringe prospect”. That doesn’t sound like too much to part with; especially when keeping the return in mind. Paroubeck could very well turn into a solid major league player, but he can just as easily become a footnote, only known as a guy traded for Craig Kimbrel.

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  • So, now that we’ve gotten all the bad things out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

    The Padres have Craig Kimbrel. I never thought I’d be writing that sentence, at least not for a couple years. Kimbrel would instantly improve any bullpen, but the Padres bullpen was already one of the best in baseball last year. Now they’re even better.

    Kevin Quackenbush and Brandon Maurer, who both had ERA’s in the twos as relievers last season, are starting the year in AAA, because this bullpen is that good.

    Joaquin Benoit was dominant last year setting up Huston Street, and even more so closing out games. Kimbrel has had the lowest ERA of any qualified reliever over the past four seasons, and the highest WAR by over two wins. Putting those two together at the back end of the bullpen makes any ball game a seven inning game. If the starters can hold their own, and with the rotation of the caliber the Padres should have, the lineup won’t need to do much heavy lifting.

    But is a closer of Kimbrel’s quality worth the cost? Right now the Padres have taken a huge gamble by going for it all right, but the only way they could do it as quickly as they have, was by taking risks.

    Wil Myers is coming off a horrible year, Matt Kemp‘s hips could go at any time, and Justin Upton could only be here for one year…and that’s just the outfield.

    In the infield you have a shortstop that’s never hit, an injury prone-light hitting first baseman, a third baseman who hasn’t produced since 2012, and a second baseman who is coming off an injury plagued sophomore slump. With all these question marks, having certainty in the rotation, and the bullpen, is the safest bet to have a successful season. So many games come down to one or two runs, and while a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers will be searching for answers, the Padres have several guys who they can rely on in the late innings.

    But was the bullpen already good enough? Using a top prospect and spending a lot of money to improve what was already the team’s greatest strength seems like a waste. However, the Padres don’t just want to contend, they want to win.

    In October bullpens make a huge difference. Look at the 2013 Boston Red Sox. Their ability to rely on Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara in the late innings was key to their success in the playoffs. They were able to prey on teams who didn’t have the bullpen depth of they had, like the Detroit Tigers, who were relying on Joaquin Benoit. Also, just last year the Tigers and Washington Nationals saw their bullpens throw away games, while the Kansas City Royals rode theirs all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. Adding Kimbrel might not make a huge difference in the regular season, but come October if the Padres are still playing (God willing), being able to turn to both Benoit and Kimbrel in late inning situations could be the difference in winning it all, or a NLDS exit.

    While Kimbrel is the main prize, Upton Jr. seems like just a bad contract to make the deal worthwhile for Atlanta, but Melvin might have some hidden value after all; though it likely won’t be at the plate or in the field, as he hasn’t been a factor in either since his days in Tampa Bay. On this team he’ll just be the fifth outfielder and hopefully he’ll show some value as a pinch hitter, when he’s finally healthy. The hidden value comes in his brother Justin. We already know that the brothers playing along each other doesn’t bring out the best in the both of them, Melvin in particular, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy playing together.

    With Justin’s contract expiring, having Melvin here could help bring back his brother. Obviously, money trumps all, but having his brother here could be a tiebreaker needed to keep him in San Diego; and anything that works in your favor is a good thing when it comes to negotiating a contract with a star player.

    Overall, I love this trade. The cost was steep, but when you trade for one the best players in the game, it will sting a little. This trade allowed the Padres to get better and rid themselves of two players who no longer fit with the team.

    If there was ever any doubt, now everyone knows the Padres have their eyes set on October 2015, and their front office truly believes that this a team that can win it all.

    So what do you think of the trade? Vote in the poll and give your thoughts in the comments below.

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