Just after players were officially declared free agents, I wrote a piece on which shortstops the Padres could go after. Then, I wrote an article on which players General Manager A.J. Preller should avoid trading for as the solution to the shortstop hole. I was setting up an article that would go through a bunch of MLB-ready prospects the Padres could try to get. Instead, they should go for a short-term solution at shortstop.
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My line of thinking in trading for a prospect was, at the time, the organization really didn’t have much in terms of depth at the position in the minors. The Padres would never get a star because the haul would be too great and, frankly, not worth it. The shortstop position is a bit thin at the moment, so Preller would have to overcompensate with a large return.
So, my MLB-ready prospect shortstops to trade for list was: Javier Baez, Eugenio Suarez (Cincinnati), Jack Reinheimer (Arizona, 12th-ranked prospect), Deven Marrero (Boston, #9), Trevor Story (Colorado, #11), Dixon Machado (Detroit, #14), Gavin Cechini (NY Mets, #4), Matt Reynolds (NY Mets, #7), Chad Pinder (Oakland, #7), Daniel Robertson (TBR #5). All of these rankings come from MLB.com’s prospect rankings. The rankings are in respect to that team’s system.
But after the Craig Kimbrel deal with Boston, the Padres added Javier Guerra. When the new Baseball America 2016 Padres Prospects List came out, I changed course on what Preller’s strategy should be. Guerra is ranked at the top of the list, with shortstops Ruddy Giron and Jose Rondon at numbers four and five respectively. None of those three is expected until 2017.
The Padres don’t look like they have any sort of chance or desire to contend in 2016. So, if the strategy is to hold tight until 2017, then the Padres need a short-term solution. I see two decent enough ones.
First, they could sign free agent Alexei Ramirez. Next year will be Ramirez’s age 34 season. After a year in which he hit .249/.285/.357/.642 and, with the exception of a good 2014, has been declining. A change of scenery could make 2016 better than 2015. But, more importantly, Ramirez consistently plays more than 150 games per year, he remains a solid defender, and won’t be too expensive. He also won’t be commanding a multi-year deal like fellow declining free agent Ian Desmond.
The other solution could be to trade for Milwaukee’s Jean Segura. He will turn 26 during Spring Training and the Padres would have him under control through 2018. Prospect readiness projections are often off. One cannot rely on A-level shortstops to progress as planned. Considering that there are three, one would think at least one will stay on course and become a good Major League player.
Regardless, Segura is a good insurance plan. Milwaukee is rebuilding. They looked to trade Segura last offseason, to the Padres even, but kept him. After and All-Star 2013, Segura has regressed. In 2014 and 2015, Segura hit .252/.285/.331/.615. Note that both seasons were virtually identical. Despite having the same level of production as Ramirez last year, Segura is eight years younger and has more potential.
If either option fails, the Padres can cut their cheap losses and hope for the best with the prospects. Signing Ian Desmond would be a disaster and getting a bigger named shortstop via trade would cost the Padres more than they would get in return. Go for Segura or Ramirez and hope for the best in 2017.