The San Diego Padres have made their first major move of the 2017 Winter Meetings, acquiring third baseman Chase Headley and relief pitcher Bryan Mitchell from the New York Yankees for outfielder Jabari Blash.
Headley spent his first seven years in the MLB with San Diego and will now be returning to the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2005 MLB Draft. For his career, Headley has appeared in 1409 games, hitting .264 with 130 home runs, 592 RBIs and 93 stolen bases.
Back on the Padres, Headley will likely take over at the hot corner and function as one of the leaders on a young San Diego team. However for the Yankees, this move was all about shedding salary.
After trading for Giancarlo Stanton, New York had to shed some of their bigger contracts in order to stay under the luxury tax. Moving Headley’s $13 million deal does just that. Rosenthal went on to report that San Diego will pick up the third baseman’s entire contract.
While Headley’s return to San Diego will likely garner the most reaction from Padres’ fans, the jewel to this trade for the Friars is Bryan Mitchell.
Mitchell is making less than $1 million in 2017 and is under team control until 2022. During his brief MLB career, Mitchell has appeared in 48 games, pitching to a 2-6 record with a 4.94 ERA and a 64/44 K/BB ratio. He has been used as a starter and a reliever, with his role on the Padres not yet being determined.
His MLB stats may not look illustrious, but very recently was Mitchell considered one of the top prospects in the Yankees’ system. In 2015, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the Yankees’ 13th best prospect.
They went on to write:
"Mitchell has had some of the best stuff in the Yankees system since he signed for $800,000 as a 16th-rounder in 2009. Though he has two plus pitches, he never has posted a winning record or a sub-4.00 ERA in full-season ball. He finally reached New York last August and threw well in three big league appearances.Mitchell should be able to carve up hitters with a fastball that ranges from 91-97 mph with tail and sink and a power curveball that runs up to 84 mph. He has trouble throwing both pitches for strikes and keeping them down in the zone on a consistent basis, so he gets hit more than he should.His changeup is often flat and ineffective, though Mitchell’s cutter shows signs of giving him a useful third offering. He has yet to show he’ll have enough control and command to be a big league starter but could be a late-inning bullpen weapon relying mainly on his fastball and curve."
Mitchell will likely begin his Padres career as a starting pitcher. However if that doesn’t work out he ha the potential to be an impact reliever out of San Diego’s bullpen.
By making this deal, the Padres are sacrificing their cap space by taking on Headley to see if Mitchell could regain his former top prospect status. Perhaps a change to the pitcher friendly Petco Park could do that.
As for Blash, the powerful outfielder never really found his groove in San Diego hitting just .200 with eight homeruns and 22 RBIs in 99 career games. He always had potential, but never truly lived up to the hype. With the Yankees outfield remaining crowded, there’s a chance New York releases him prior to the season.
Overall, the Padres are hoping that Bryan Mitchell finds his form and could become an impact arm for them. As the team looks for starting pitching, perhaps Mitchell could lead the rotation of the future. While Headley returning home is a good narrative, the Padres made this to acquire a former top prospect in hopes of him returning to his former glory.
If that comes to fruition is yet to be seen. For now, Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell are San Diego Padres.
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