If the San Diego Padres want to continue staying in contention, they’ll need to make moves before the 2022 trade deadline.
On the surface, the Padres are sitting pretty. They’re 37-24, only 1/2 a game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West, and have a commanding three-game lead over all other NL teams in the Wild Card standings.
However, underneath the veneer of a winning record, the Padres have quite a few issues that won’t hold up well as the season progresses. The cracks have been forming since the season began, Fernando Tatis Jr.’s injury being among the largest. If the Padres don’t make some acquisitions, those cracks will only spread.
The Padres’ deficiencies are obvious: an underperforming lineup and on a smaller scale, an unreliable bullpen. Tatis’ wrist fracture is reportedly “a slow-healing injury,” and the timetable for his return has now shifted from early June to late June, and now July, at best. Without him, the Padres’ lineup is putting up below-league average numbers, which won’t sustain them for the entire season, never mind playoff showdowns with more powerful teams.
So, who should the Padres target ahead of the trade deadline? This week, MLB.com named them as potential suitors for two Washington Nationals players…
The Padres should target Carl Edwards Jr. at the trade deadline
Could the Padres target Nationals reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to bolster their bullpen?
They’ve been walked off five times this season, including twice in a three-game span between May 31-June 2. The bullpen’s 10 blown saves are tied for fifth in MLB and are the most in their division.
Since giving up three earned runs to cost his team the win in his season debut, Edwards has been excellent. Over 14 subsequent appearances, he’s only allowed three hits and one earned run. While his eight walks on the season are a bit higher than ideal, the end result is dominance, and the Padres certainly need more of that.
Edwards will be a first-time free agent after this year, so he’d be a low-commitment rental.
The Padres should target Nelson Cruz at the trade deadline
The Padres reportedly came close to signing Nelson Cruz before the season began, but he took a lucrative deal with the Nats, instead. The combination of not signing him and losing Tatis for months was a double punch to the gut, and the lineup’s lackluster performance without them speaks for itself.
San Diego ranks below league average in runs scored, hits, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS+, and well above average in striking out. Among all NL teams, they’re second from the bottom in slugging percentage and OPS, and dead-last in home runs.
Cruz can help.
Over 56 games this season, he has 55 hits, including eight doubles and seven home runs, 29 runs scored, and 35 RBI. Those numbers are actually low by his standards; after being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays last summer, he played 55 games for them, compiling fewer hits and more strikeouts.
While the Padres have already ventured into the aging sluggers department twice in the last month to sign Robinson Canó to two contracts, it shouldn’t stop them from going after Cruz. He’ll be 42 by the deadline, but over years, he’s proven that he’s no mere mortal when it comes to aging.
In fact, my biggest concern with Cruz has nothing to do with his age, and everything to do with the fact that aside from this year and an eight-game debut with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005, he’s spent his entire career in the American League. I’d chalk his slow start this season up to unfamiliarity against National League pitchers, not him getting older.