The stakes are high for second year General Manager A.J. Preller of the San Diego Padres. Last winter in the end he proved himself an adept deal-maker, after whiffing on Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas to start the off-season. Now most Padres fans are happy that we didn’t end up with Pablo’s contract for his performance but does the fact that he missed on the deals raise any red flags? The most pressing need for the Padres heading into 2016 is a shortstop, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim yesterday acquired Andrelton Simmons from the Atlanta Braves. Wow, missed that opportunity A.J..
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What is interesting about this trade is that Simmons did not fit what might be considered a “natural” possibility. He was not a free agent. He is signed in fact through 2020 on a good contract. Just $6 Million in 2016, then $8M, $11M, $13, and finishing out his contract at age 31 for $15M. Bound to be a great value if continues and his offense continues to be at least above average.
The Padres were at one point rumored to be in discussions but after all of the prospects were dealt out of the system last season, just didn’t have much else to offer. Heck, after two trades last year the Braves had already taken several of the Padres top prospects in Matt Wisler, Max Fried, and Mallex Smith. Not to mention the Cameron Maybin and Jace Peterson afterthoughts that turned into productive starting major league players. Sorry, we do still have Melvin Upton Jr..
Though Simmons is no longer an option, that doesn’t mean he might try and think outside the box by trading Craig Kimbrel or Jedd Gyorko. It would be a loss if he ends up trading Hunter Renfroe, doomed to haunt the Padres for years if he is indeed traded as another prospect the Padres cuoldn’t wait on to grow up. Preller already traded away Joaquin Benoit and it seems like he would not be afraid to still trade Kimbrel if the price is right, despite the bullpen being another large area of concern based on the 2015 results.
Just maybe though Preller does have a plan here. After all, missing on Pablo and Tomas both turned out likely to be blessings in disguises. We’ve talked before how the acquisitions last year except for Will Middlebrooks weren’t in of themselves necessarily large failures. Justin Upton and Matt Kemp did what they were supposed to do. Derek Norris played under expectations but didn’t hit .168 with 3 HR. That was supposed catcher of the future Austin Hedges. So maybe Preller has another shortstop in mind for the team and is keeping things close to the vest until he can work things out. The off-season is off to a slow but building start, and all signs are looking that more blockbusters are to come.