The San Diego Padres linked up with the Tampa Bay Rays for the second time this offseason, and one MLB columnist said the deal is perfect for both teams.
When the San Diego Padres acquired Emilio Pagan from the Tampa Bay Rays, the deal seemed strange yet made sense at the same time. It was strange because the Padres gave up a terrific center fielder in Manuel Margot, one who was just 25-years-old but had not tapped into his potential at the plate.
Margot is under team control through the 2022 season, and his departure left a lot of uncertainty in terms of who would take over center field duties. Conversely, adding a guy like Pagan to the bullpen makes a fairly formidable 1-2-3 in Drew Pomeranz, Pagan, and Kirby Yates.
The Padres’ bullpen was already widely viewed as one of the best in baseball, and the addition of Pagan further justifies that case. So much so that it resembles that of the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Seriously though, the starters only need to get through five innings and let the bullpen take it from there.
MLB.com Columnist, Richard Justice, weighed in his opinion on the deal between the two teams, and he said it was one of those trades where “everyone gets what they want, and that’s the best kind.”
Regarding the addition of Pagan:
"“By one metric, weighted-on-base-average, he was baseball’s best in 2019,” Justice said. “The Padres already had one of the best closers in the game in Kirby Yates and added free-agent, [Drew] Pomeranz, who had a 1.99 ERA in 29 relief appearances for the Giants and Brewers. To have three relievers that good is important, not just for closing out games. But especially for closing out games for what figures to be a very young, very talented starting rotation, and the NL West got more interesting.”"
The Padres’ bullpen figures to be excellent for the next several years, as Yates is the only member of the core to become a free agent after this year. And that’s not to downplay his importance to the team. The 32-year-old was flat out dominant last season and should be a priority for AJ Preller to re-sign, hopefully, before he can test the market.
And while the Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites to win the division, it’s worth noting that the Padres’ top three bullpen guys combined for a 5.2 WAR compared to the Dodgers’ top three in Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, and Blake Treinen combined for a negative 0.2 WAR in 2019.
Should the Dodgers not live up to their lofty expectations, the performance of the bullpens could ultimately be a factor in the outcome of the NL West Division.