Who got the best of the trade between the San Diego Padres and the Kansas City Royals on Monday which sent three key Friar hurlers?
Once again on Monday, a full week prior to the trade deadline, general manager A.J. Preller has proven that he isn’t afraid to pull the trigger. This time, he sent a package of three of San Diego’s top pitchers to the Royals in exchange for a diverse mix of talent.
Trevor Cahill, Ryan Buchter, and Brandon Maurer are on their way to a contender, and the best barbecue. But what Padres fans are more concerned about is the other end of the deal, and the three names for which they surrendered three reliable pitchers.
Unlike a traditional deadline trade, the “selling” team, which would be San Diego, actually acquired a pair of major leaguers. Travis Wood, a 30-year-old starter and reliever, has struggled this season with a 6.91 ERA. However, he has been an effective pitcher in the past, and was an All-Star with the Cubs in 2013.
Matt Strahm, a left-hander, is 25 and is in his second major league season. He too has struggled in limited innings this season, but was one of the more promising Royals hurlers. The only downside is, he had season ending surgery two and a half weeks ago.
The Padres may be high on these two pitchers, and may even possibly add them to their rotation immediately. But where the organization really feels they did well with this trade is in 18-year-old Estuery Ruiz. The infielder is still in the Arizona Rookie League, and has played in a total of 78 games professionally.
While there’s obviously a long ways to go for Ruiz, his upside is monumental, which makes a trade like this during a rebuilding season one which could pay dividends.
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In fact, Ruiz made his debut in San Diego’s system Monday, going 0-for-3 with a walk. While there isn’t much out yet on the young prospect, since he’s easily multiple seasons away, his scouting report indicates that he is a contact hitter with a lot of speed and an asset defensively. His high average and hit total makes up for his lack of power. The Padres can only hope his development continues to go smoothly without any major setbacks.
While many fans wanted more young talent out of a deal like this, the strategy Preller implemented here is clear. Losing Cahill, Buchter, and Maurer is a major blow to the pitching staff. This is why Wood was acquired, as he will provide a veteran presence and at least some stability whether he is inserted into the rotation or the bullpen. Strahm has some upside, but will need to wait until next season to prove his worth. Ruiz, of course, is a prospect, and quite possibly the most valuable piece of this deal.
Only time will tell whether or not this deal works in San Diego’s favor. But for now, fans ought to take a step back and look at matters from the perspective of the long term. Losing three of the roster’s top arms is quite the blow, but it’s all part of the process.