San Diego Padres: West coast is the best coast
The first name on this list has shockingly produced a strong season thus far, and that is Seattle Mariners catcher Austin Nola. Nola has been around professional baseball since 2012 when the Miami Marlins drafted him in the fifth round.
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In the fall of 2018, the M’s traded former prospect and the expectant backstop of Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays. Once Nola was released from Miami, Seattle jumped on acquiring him, and so far, he has been a solid contributor.
Last season in 55 games in Triple-A Tacoma, Nola slashed .327/.415/.520, seven home runs, 37 RBI, good enough for a 131 wRC+. It was by far and away Nola’s best professional season. Then, last season, with splitting catching duties with Tom Murphy, Nola slashed .269/.342/.454 and put together a 1.5 WAR season.
Nola has been on another level through the first part of 2020. He is hitting .315 over his first 25 games and has significantly cut down on the strikeouts, improving from 23.6 percent last year to 15.8 percent this season. Nola has put together a 1.0 WAR season up to this point.
Despite the age concern as Nola is 30 years old, he is on a contract barely valued above league minimum and would not cost much to acquire, even just as a rental. The Mariners are struggling at 12-19 and may be willing to move Nola. If it is indeed the case, the Padres should be there to scoop the veteran up.