As the deadline approaches the trade chatter around the San Diego Padres‘ players will continue to grow. The obvious ones will be those with expiring contracts, like Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, but it appears A.J. Preller might be willing to deal away players with multiple years of control. Namely Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that the Houston Astros and Padres have had “preliminary talks” regarding Ross and Cashner. There’s likely interest in Ian Kennedy and James Shields too, but Kennedy wouldn’t be a huge upgrade for them and Shields is likely a little too costly and risky for them.
It’s a little surprising to see a team that was all in at the start of the season be willing to cash out some of their more valuable players just a few months later, but it does make some sense. The big moves made this offseason took a toll on the Padres’ farm system and the Astros have one of, if not the, deepest systems in all of baseball. Their stockpile of young talent could be enticing enough to convince the Padres to deal one of Cashner or Ross who under team control through 2016 and 2017 respectively.
While guys like Carlos Correra and Mark Appel are likely not on the table, there’s a bevy of other talent available when trying to make a deal with Houston.
Vincent Velasquez and Lance McCullers Jr. both have made their debuts in 2015 and would be very strong headlining prospects in a deal. Both have posted strong numbers in their first big league stints, McCullers in particular, despite neither ever having pitched above AA. In 11 starts McCullers has a 2.52 ERA and is striking out over a batter per inning. Velasquez has a less impressive 3.94 ERA, but his strikeout rate isn’t too far behind. Both of them have struggled with walks, but when they can miss bats at the rate they do, they can find their way out of trouble. Other prospects of note that could be on the table are third baseman Collin Moran, righty Michael Feliz, second baseman Tony Kemp, outfielder Brett Phillips and lefty Josh Hader.
Right now a lot of those names sound nice, but to get them you have to sacrifice a proven commodity. McCullers was thought to project as a reliever coming into the year, and once teams get a better look at him, maybe what everyone saw could rear its ugly head. What we do know is Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross have proven track records of success in the major leagues, and whoever they get for them won’t. The new regime has shown a willingness to compete every year, so would it be worth it to cash in guys who could help in 2016 and 2017 for unproven players who potentially could start a quick and cost effective turn around? That’s the question A.J. Preller and the front office have to ask themselves.
The good thing about trading a player with control on a team that could contend in the short term is that there’s very little risk to saying no. The deadline isn’t the last chance for the Padres to move Ross and Cashner, but it’s the Astros’ last chance to add an a starter of that magnitude for this season. With the leverage in the Padres hands, they have the power to make the demands. Hopefully they use that power wisely and don’t move either pitcher for anything less than they feel they’re worth.
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