If there is anything we know about AJ Preller it’s that he is always open to trading players to continue stockpiling young talent. Let’s take a look at who from the San Diego Padres could be considered trade bait.
Tyson Ross has been the San Diego Padres most consistent starter this season. He has shown all of Major League Baseball that he is back to the form that earned him an all-star spot in 2014. In addition, he has been the best starter the Padres have had this season, with a 3.89 ERA.
Even though the velocity is down a bit, his fastball and slider have been devastating this year, continually keeping hitters off-balance. A key component for the Padres being able to trade him is for him to prove to the league that he is healthy again. So far he has done so and with a higher efficiency than anyone expected.
Possible Landing Spot: The Los Angeles Angels always seem to have trouble with their starters getting hurt, so Ross for a mid-level prospect might be a nice get for both them and the Padres.
Brad Hand: A prime trade target during the off-season, the 27-year-old signed a 3-year $19.75 million contract, cementing him as the Padres closer. In addition, the 2017 all-star has had another strong start the to the 2018 season, converting 9 out of 11 save attempts this season. His 2.70 ERA entering Friday’s game is again one of the lowest in the Padres bullpen. If he keeps up these numbers he will once again be near the top of anyone’s list when it comes to adding a quality bullpen piece to a contending team.
Possible Landing Spot: If the Phillies keep up their surprising start to the 2018 season they could be in the market for a veteran reliever to help in the bullpen. With a highly rated farm system, Preller might be able to trade Hand for some high-end prospects.
Another backend of the bullpen guy, Kirby Yates has continued to improve on a stellar 2017 season here in 2018. He has an ERA of .87 over 10 innings pitched and has looked increasingly in command of all his pitches since coming off the DL. If the Padres choose to move a reliever mid-season but want Hand to be a building block for the future, then Yates may be the one moved. His mix up of his mid-90s fastball and his slider continually keep hitters off-balance, and he would be a great asset to any contending team looking for bullpen help.
Possible Landing Spot: Like Hand, Yates may find himself with a surprise contending team that needs relief pitching. The Atlanta Braves are off to a strong start, but with key pitchers injured they may want to bring in a veteran reliever to help out a young team.
Position Players the San Diego Padres could move on from.
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Chase Headley seems to be stuck in a prolonged slump this season and is currently hitting .133 with four runs batted in in 45 at-bats. The 34-year-old was the tag-along in the Bryan Mitchell trade that sent Jabari Blash to the Yankees. Unfortunately for the Padres, neither asset has worked out very well, with Mitchell recently being demoted from the starting rotation to the bullpen. If Headley can start hitting the ball on a more consistent basis he might find himself back in the trade conversations. Until then, however, he and most of his $13 million contract will remain in San Diego.
Possible Landing Spot: Any team that would take him…
Jose Pirela started the season on a tear but has since cooled off considerably. In 37 games, Pirela is batting .259 with an OBP of .314. His ability to play both the outfield as well as second base could make him a valuable piece to a team looking to add depth at the trade deadline. From a Padres standpoint, moving the 28-year-old would let the Padres evaluate Carlos Asuaje‘s ability at second base. Also, they could call up Luis Urias and let him showcase his talent on a big league ball field.
Possible Landing spot: The Texas Rangers have a long list of players currently on the DL and could use someone with Pirela’s skill set to be a stopgap until some of their starters return healthy.
Matt Szczur has played in 26 games for the Padres this year. He has played every outfield position and is hitting .243. Trading Szczur would allow the Padres more opportunities to evaluate Franchy Cordero, Manuel Margot, and the hot-hitting Travis Jankowski. In addition, if the Padres move on from both him and Pirela, the team will have room to keep Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe on the active roster once they return from their spells on the DL.
Possible Landing Spot: The Toronto Blue Jays could be in the market for a veteran bench presence, so this could be a logical move for Szczur considering he can play all three outfield positions.
The Padres are going to have to move pieces before the end of the season. There are just too many players and not enough spots on the roster. With a surplus of top prospects at a few different positions (pitcher and outfield), these veterans could be packaged with prospects to bring in much-needed help.