Padres Trade Joaquin Benoit; Second Trade in Two Days

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The San Diego Padres made their second trade in as many days on Thursday, sending reliever Joaquin Benoit to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for two minor league prospects.

Benoit has served as the eighth-inning setup man for the Padres for the last two seasons, compiling a 10-7 record with a stellar 1.96 ERA and 0.84 WHIP.

In return, the Padres receive a pair of Single-A players, 19-year old RHP Enyel De Los Santos and 23-year old infielder Nelson Ward.

De Los Santos signed as an international free agent last year, and pitched for Seattle’s rookie and low-A clubs this season, racking up 71 strikeouts in 62.1 innings while walking only 18. His combined ERA was 3.47. The player hails from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.

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The Mariners drafted Ward in the 12th round in 2014, after his Junior season at the University of Georgia. Ward played both shortstop and second base in college and the minor leagues, but has logged more games at second. In 2015, he played in A ball and High-A ball, compiling a .278/.365/.436 slash line with nine homers and 13 steals in 122 games.

According to Jason Churchill at Prospect Insider, which covers the Mariner’s farm system, De Los Santos features an 89-92 mph fastball that occasionally touches 94, complemented by a mid-70s curveball. He considers the young hurler to be a medium-ceiling prospect who will require three-to-five years of seasoning in the minors, but is less hopeful about Ward, describing him as “a utility player with little shot to play in the bigs”, adding that he projects as a role player at best.

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The acquisition of De Los Santos comes just a day after the Padres traded a similar-style pitcher, Ronald Herrera, to the New York Yankees for second baseman/outfielder Jose Pirela. Herrera is a 20-year old fastball/curveball RHP who played at AA for the Padres organization this season.

Pirela is a good pickup.

A year ago, the Yankees were considering letting the talented Pirela compete in Spring Training for the everyday second baseman position, according to Bill Madden of the Daily News. After suffering an early-season concussion, the 25-year old split time between the Yankees and their AAA affiliate. He raked at Triple-A to the tune of .325/.390/.433, and hit .255 in 98 AB in parts of two seasons in New York.

Madden quotes one NL scout as saying that Pirela “brings an energy that is non-existent on their team,” referring to the 2015 Yankees. Pirela is the second exciting Venezuelan player the Padres have acquired from the Yankees, joining Yangervis Solarte, who came to San Diego in a 2014 trade.

Obviously, though, the departure of Benoit is the most important feature of these trades for the 2015 Padres. He led the Padres pitching staff in games pitched (67), ERA (2.34), and WHIP (0.90). Preller seemed to show last year that he views bullpen pieces as interchangeable, as he broke up what was the best bullpen in baseball in 2014, demoting Dale Thayer, Nick Vincent, and Kevin Quackenbush, and bringing in Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer. By trading their most effective reliever in Benoit this season, Preller appears to be on track again to overhaul the bullpen.

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