Padres Editorial: Padres Shortstop Target – Elvis Andrus


It’s well known knowledge at this point that A.J. Preller is unhappy with his current shortstop tandem of Clint Barmes and Alexi Amarista and is looking to upgrade. The question is, with the season already underway, whose available? FangraphsDave Cameron, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, and Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors have all recently weighed in on this question with their own list of potential trade fits for the Padres. One common player whose name comes up for all of them is Texas Rangers shortstop, Elvis Andrus.

While the Padres interest in a talent like Andrus is understandable, why would a rebuilding team like the Rangers trade away a two time All Star at just 26 years old?

First off, his contract. This year is the first year of an eight year $120 million extension, with a $15 million vesting option for a ninth year that Andrus signed in April of 2013. A long, expensive contract that has the potential to turn south isn’t really conducive to a rebuild. While it only goes through Andrus’ age 33 season, there’s reason to believe that just three games in, the contract might already have been a mistake. Just look at his WAR by year.

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If you don’t believe in WAR, then look at his slash line from his first four seasons, .275/.342/.353, compared to his last two, .267/.321/.332. It may not be as drastic of a drop as his WAR, but it’s still a decline in his age 24 and 25 seasons. As he inches closer to his prime there should be signs of improvement not the reverse. He’s still young, so his value is still fairly high, but this might be the last chance the Rangers have to offload that contract.

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However, if the contract is so terrible, then why would the Padres want Andrus? Maybe because the current shortstop situation could be what holds the Padres back when we get into the dog-days of summer. Barmes and Amarista are better suited as bench pieces, and shortstop is a thin position around the league. If a former All-Star, who has yet to reach his prime is available, then you should pursue them. That’s been A.J. Preller’s philosophy since taking over as GM of the Padres. He sees whose available and puts on a full court press until he gets them. If the Rangers make Andrus available, then that’s what Preller would do.

Speaking of Preller, he has some familiarity with Andrus. He was part of Rangers front office when they made the trade to acquire Andrus from the Atlanta Braves back in 2007 and when they gave him that eight year extension. While Preller’s main focus with the Rangers was in the international market, he was still there to see Andrus’ development into an All Star. Preller very likely knows the risks involved with taking on Andrus and his contract.

So will a deal get done? At the moment it’s not very likely. Cameron, Rosenthal and Adams all said in their pieces a deal between the Rangers and Padres probably won’t happen anytime soon. With the cash that’s already been allotted to Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr. and Craig Kimbrel, as well as the soon to be rising costs of Derek Norris and Wil Myers, a risky eight year deal might not be the most sound business decision.

At some point the Padres are going to run out of money and I’m sure they’d rather that happen after they’ve locked up Justin Upton long term. Making a trade for Andrus would seriously impact their ability to meet Upton’s asking price and would also cost more prospects. Preller has already given up a lot prospects and spent a lot of money, any more might be too much.

Andrus is a very talented shortstop, and would be an upgrade over the current options, but it’ll likely be at a cost that the Padres either can’t or won’t meet. Their best chance for an upgrade would be one that doesn’t involve top prospects and has a relatively manageable contract. Unfortunately, those kind of deals will be hard to come by this early in the season.

What do you guys think of Andrus? Who is your shortstop trade target?

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