San Diego Padres: Trade deadline thoughts: The bullpen

SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 17: Brandon Maurer
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 17: Brandon Maurer /

Friars on Base staff thoughts on the San Diego Padres involvement in this season’s trade deadline. We begin by examining the bullpen.

The San Diego Padres are clearly sellers, which makes the time before the deadline one filled with both speculation and emotion. Whereas buyers are optimistically looking forward to the key pieces they are poised to add, sellers are preparing for how many losses of key players will give them the bright future they’re looking for.

Several of the names swirling around as rumors for the Padres are a part of the club’s bullpen. Relief pitching is such a commodity in baseball, making some of San Diego’s strong relievers quite attractive to contending organizations.

The Friars on Base staff got together to share some of their thoughts on the trade deadline.

Cheri Bell

Speculation has been rampant on the major league baseball internet sites regarding Padres lefty reliever Brad Hand. It is no secret to anyone that he has been a coveted bullpen piece. The question is, who will ante up the players that general manager A.J. Preller covets in return for Hand?

In 43 games and 48 innings pitched, he has a 2.25 ERA with a .199 batting avg against. He is effective pitching to both right and left handed batters and has been the Padres seventh or eighth inning pitcher for most of the first half with two saves. Quite an impressive accomplishment for a player claimed off waivers in 2016 from the Marlins.

The organization seems to be upping the stakes In recent days with both Preller and manager Andy Green being quoted that they are happy to keep Brad if the offer isn’t right. This is typical gamesmanship employed as the deadline approaches. Hopefully it will work to drive the price up for the Padres.

Closer Brandon Maurer could also be on the table in combination with Hand or separately. Maurer has had his struggles this season but remains an excellent option for a team hoping to improve its bullpen. His 1.86 ERA and  .152 batting avg against in the last month is much more like his previous success. It is unlikely the return would be the equal of what the Padres were able to secure in exchange for Craig Kimbrel but there could be some value involved.

Another Padre reliever that could draw interest is righty Kirby Yates, another waiver claim who the Padres plucked from the Angels organization. He turned his 18.0 ERA with the Angels around quickly after coming to the Friars. He currently has a 2.45 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched with 44 strike outs. Both scrap heap claims could bring handsome dividends and add to the present roster or more added depth to the minor league system.

Jonathan Goehring

The Padres have had a very inconsistent bullpen this season, with the exception of two very reliable relievers. All-Star Brad Hand, who led the league in appearances last season, and is on track for another 80 this year, and Brandon Maurer, the closer.

Unfortunately for fans, both are on the market and will likely be dealt before the July 31st MLB trade deadline. Rumors have involved the Yankees, Dodgers, and Rays, and vary from either just Hand, just Maurer, or both. The only similarity is that each contender would be offering prospects in return.

Related Story: Hand represents well, pitches 1-2-3 inning

The Yankees have a couple of promising young shortstop prospects with loads of potential but a long ways to go. Wilkerman Garcia and Tyler Wade are probably two to three seasons away, which is a lot for a contending organization like New York to wait.

A trade with the Yankees involving these relievers would appear to be most logical. For one thing, of course, they have the prospects at a position San Diego has virtually no future at and hasn’t had success at in years. Also, they aren’t the Dodgers, who are a division rival. That’s awkward. The Rays are another option, but they’re not going to break the bank. It’s a little easier to get a franchise like the Yankees to spare one of their prospects.

It isn’t a very pleasant thought to consider what a Padres pen would look like without either Hand or Maurer. But as has been proven time and time again, the only way to get better is to acquire prospects, and that is what San Diego would be doing by making a deal or deals shipping these two.

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Diane Calkins

Relief pitcher Brad Hand has been the name most often associated with trade rumors regarding the Padres.  However A.J. Preller recently told’s AJ Cassavell that the team’s “relievers have all pitched well, and scouts take note of that.  Teams have definite interest.”

According to Buster Olney, ESPN Senior Writer, “San Diego is absolutely intent on getting the best possible return in the next two weeks for left-handed reliever Brad Hand, who went from being something of a journeyman with the Marlins to an All-Star.”

Preller apparently asked the New York Yankees for too much when he suggested a swap of Hand for top prospect Gleyber Torres but was rebuffed.  New York has also inquired about closer Brandon Maurer.

Related Story: Will Preller’s reputation hamper deadline deals?

Other teams in the hunt for relief help include the Astros, Brewers, Rangers, Red Sox, Rays and Diamondbacks.  The Rangers would be a natural trading partner for Preller, as he was Director of International and Professional Scouting with Texas from 2004 until the Padres hired him in 2014.  Preller both scouted and helped acquire Jurickson Profar, who has played second and third base as well as shortstop and in the outfield for Texas, and may still be on the general manager’s radar.

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Aside from Hand and Maurer, the names Ryan Buchter, Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen and Jose Torres have also shown up in trade rumors, in other words, just about all the relief pitchers on the roster.

If Preller plays his hand well, he can take advantage of teams still in contention and needing to shore up their bullpens while not completely stripping the Padres of talented relievers.  Those teams would also be wise to ask that pitching coach and miracle worker, Darren Balsley, be included. He undoubtedly helped resurrect the career of Brad Hand, who is just one of many middling or failing pitchers who have thrived under his tutelage.

Next: San Diego Padres: Week #15 recap

Have any additional thoughts on the relievers as the trade deadline approaches? Share them below in the comments section. Also, stay tuned, because shortly Friars on Base will be covering the starting pitching rumors, as well as those involving the remainder of the roster.