We’re not even through the first week of May. Talking about trades this early is rare and probably seems like a drastic overreaction fo the fairly pedestrian start the San Diego Padres have gotten off to at 17-14. But just 1 1/2 games out in the NL West and tied with the Dodgers, now is the time for AJ Preller to make a big-time trade.
Given Tommy Pham’s continued struggles offensively (61 wRC+) and the team’s overall shoddy showing at the plate to this point, one guy could end up being a major difference-maker for San Diego: Cubs superstar Kris Bryant.
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Bryant is off to the best start of his career on the North Side of Chicago, carrying a .282/.381/.515 line into play Wednesday with a 201 OPS+. He’s been more defensively versatile this year than at any point during his time in the big leagues, seeing time across the outfield and at third base. As we know, the Padres are an organization that place a high value on defensive versatility.
The second-most valuable position player in the Senior Circuit to this point, Bryant is enjoying a major bounceback campaign after playing through injuries during last summer’s 60-game calendar. In his final year of team control, the former NL MVP is looking very much like a guy capable of adding more hardware to his trophy room before it’s all said and done.
With Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. locked up to long-term mega deals, it’s unlikely Preller goes out next winter and signs someone like Bryant to a nine-figure contract. But if he can jump the summer trade market and acquire the Chicago slugger for the duration of the 2021 campaign, it might be enough to get the team rolling and re-assert itself as a legitimate World Series contender.
Padres can check off multiple boxes with a Kris Bryant trade
Bryant won’t be the only Cubs player who’s shopped at the deadline. They’ll be listening on pretty much everybody this summer barring a pretty dramatic turnaround in the standings. But given his stellar showing early this year, his ability to play multiple positions and his ties to the San Diego area (he played his college ball at the University of San Diego), this is the guy Preller needs to have circled on his wish list.
Imagine this lineup:
Trent Grisham – CF
Fernando Tatis Jr. – SS
Kris Bryant – LF
Manny Machado – 3B
Eric Hosmer – 1B
Wil Myers – RF
Jake Cronenworth – 2B
Austin Nola – C
Yu Darvish – P
That’s a lineup that’s not only built to bring home an NL West crown for the first time since 2006, but is very capable of hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy in October – something no Padres club has ever done. Now’s the time – and no matter the cost, it’s a move that needs to be made.