The All Star break is over. The August 1st (this year) trading deadline is 17 days away. What does AJ do from here??
In Part One I explored the most recent events: Off season Trade, June Draft and International signings. Collectively it seems AJ Preller has hit on all cylinders: Pitching and Hitting. Hopefully restocking the minors has begun in full earnest. However many of those players are several years away from making the Major League roster. So that brings into play the current Major League team.
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What about the Padres? Who should go? Who should stay and be part of the core? Does the team need to be radically torn apart? These are tough questions for me (and oh yeah AJ) to answer. There are several reasons to trade Major League talent. 1) Trade excess at one position for a player that helps fill a weakness at another position. 2) Trade non-core players for prospects 3) Salary dumps.
So often money gets in the way of things, which could be the case when talking about Kemp and Upton. I think from the way the Padres have added payroll the last few years and the way they have spent a TON ( I am still shocked!!) of money in the international pool, that trading players for pure salary dump will not happen. A Fred McGriff trade for four magic beans is NOT part of AJ’s plan. While there needs to be some salary trimming to help pay for the international signing, trades I believe will make sense. There will be NO fire sale.
Let us explore position by position. Who is a core player and who is not.
Catcher: Austin Hedges is hitting very well in the minors (8 RBI in one game recently). Add his known defensive skills and he is a lock to be a core player. Derrick Norris is the odd man out. He will probably be traded by July 31st. He will have good value on the open market. I hate to see him go but logic says so.
First Base: Wil Myers in my opinion is the MOST UNTOUCHABLE player on the roster. You don’t trade a potential super star that is only 25 yrs old. (Can you say Anthony Rizzo). Wil is a core player for sure. He also gives the Padres flexibility of shifting him to the outfield should a power hitting 1st baseman drop into our lap.
Second Base: Cory Spangenberg is a likeable guy. He reminds me of Tim Flannery because of his hustle. The fact is in my opinion he only an adequate 2nd baseman. Not a core player to build a team around. Maybe I am wrong. He is still young and he probably has another year to prove me wrong. I feel this position could be improved. There is a young 2nd Baseman named Luis Arias who is rapidly making his way up the Padres “Minors” latter. However he still is at least a year plus away. The likely hood of Cory being traded is very low.
Short Stop: Alexi Amarista and Alexei Rameriz are just not the answer. While the good news is AJ has addressed this position with a ton of draft players and signings, the bad news is that almost all of these guys are years away. So continued stop gaps players will be the theme. NO, I DO NOT wish we had Trea Turner if that meant we could not have Wil Myers.
Third Base: Just when you think Yangervis Solarte is the answer at the hot corner, he goes into a slump. He is hot right now batting .295. But we have seen slumps before. He is 28 and next year is arbitration eligible. So there still is “salary” time. However does that make him too old to be a “core” player?? The minors are THIN for immediate power hitting help at this position. I say keep him for now. AJ might get the right offer. However logic says keep him, especially if AJ wants to compete in 2017.
Outfield: The two main players are Kemp and Upton. Are they core players?? Or should they be traded? The Padres have Hunter Renfroe literally BANGING at the door. Going into the Triple A All Star game his stats, after 84 games, are .335 Ave, 21 HR’s and 75 RBI’s, WOW!! If that can be carried over to the show, then those are middle of the line up type numbers the Padres need.
Manuel Margot plays CF for the Triple A El Paso club. He has 23 steals with a.299 average and .349 OBA. So maybe he is the top of the line up guy the Padres so desperately need. He made a WOW catch in the recent “Futures” game.
Matt Kemp, as a hitter, has been EVERYTHING we wanted, last year and this. He is a true middle of the line up guy. The real question is his tradability at 31 with three MORE years at 21.75 million a year left. He would be very desirable to any team needing immediate OF help. He would be a difference maker to a contending team this year, even possibly a World Series hero! His value could not be any better than it is right now. But how much will AJ have to eat to get some good prospects in return? I would love to see Kemp in the same line up as Renfroe next year. I hate it, but logic says trade Matt for a bevy of prospects, not as a salary dump.
Melvin Upton Jr.has only one more 16.5 million year (2017) to go. His stats are improving rapidly to where some team who needs immediate OF help could take a gamble. If traded, AJ could think of this as a partial salary dump to help pay the huge TAX bill coming from the International signings. I would hate to see him go as he is becoming a fan favorite (unlike the “bum” brother), But again I would understand it.
Jon Jay, free agent in 2017, came to the Padres in the Jedd Gyorko trade (who is having ANOTHER down year). Jon was doing well but then he got injured, otherwise he could have been excellent deadline trade bait. Travis Jankowski looks to me to be a journeyman player. He like, Cory Spangenberg, is good enough to make it to the majors but not as a star. Both are former 1st round draft picks.
Pitching: This area is a MESS. First time in several years it has been this bad. James Shields is already gone. Andrew Cashner turned out to be a not so good “journeyman” starter. His contract is up in 2016 and he is FAR from a core player. So AJ should get whatever little morsels he can by July 31st. This will help save some of the $7.5 Mil contract for this year.
Drew Pomeranz (27) came to the Padres last winter for Yonder Alonso (another great trade as Alonzo is having an off year). Drew is the best on the staff this year. Next year is first year arbitration for him, He has value both ways. Logic say keep him to help in 2017.
Home grown Colin Rea (25) is having an OK season. His first arbitration isn’t until 2019. So he is not going anywhere,
Tyson Ross (29) came from OAK in 2013 for two players no longer in the Majors. He is the supposed ace of the staff, but has been on the DL since week one. He becomes a free agent in 2018. While I doubt he will be traded during this season, he could be a casualty this winter as the arbitration might become too expensive for the Padres in 2017. He probably is not in AJ’s plans for 2018. There is not much trade value or core players in the rest of the staff. There are PLENTY of new pitching prospects down on the farm that hopefully one or two can be a real ACE soon.
In Summary Norris and Cashner are easy to part with and could be bring good value. Upton Jr would be easier to move than Kemp but for what return? All four can be moved without breaking up the core of the team. It might make competing in 2017 difficult but would not in my opinion disrupt the plans for 2018. Like I said before, I would love to see Myers, Renfroe and Kemp in a line up together next year. Fix the starting pitching and we easily could be a very competitive team in 2017.
There will NO NEED for wholesale salary dumping (for magic beans) that lacked a plan for the future. This is a different and more competent management group (with money) than we have had in a long, long, long time. I believe AJ has a solid long term plan that will bring the joy we had in April 2015 back again!! Maybe the Padres of 2018 or 2019 will be like the Cubs of this year.
Keep the Faith!! AJ has a PLAN!!