The San Diego Padres have not yet emerged as the team everyone expected them to be. Granted, it’s early in the season, and there’s still time for the Padres to get on track. Plus, a road trip to play the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field this weekend should help.
It will also give the Padres an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a trade that would help a sagging offense.
How saggy is the San Diego Padres’ offense?
Right now, as measured by FanGraphs fWAR, the Padres have the 17th-best team in baseball (6.5 fWAR). That’s fine but not enough to be a contending team.
Before the All-Star Break, the Padres need to focus on making some trades that put them in a better position to compete going forward. And the position at which the Padres offense most needs to improve is at catcher. Currently, Padres catchers have been the least productive in MLB (-0.9 fWAR). That can’t continue if this team hopes to be a contender.
Look, there’s no point in getting Xander Bogaerts, Fernando Tatís Jr., and Ha-Seong Kim on base if the bottom of the lineup cannot consistently bring them home. For now, let’s focus on improving at catcher. Austin Nola (126 PA; 00.8 fWAR), Gary Sanchez (26 PA; 0.1 fWAR), and Luis Campusano (22 PA; -0.01 fWAR) just aren’t getting the job done.
But there’s another catcher in the NL West who might be a terrific fit for the Padres: Elias Díaz of the Colorado Rockies.
The Colorado Rockies’ catcher? Are you serious?
Believe it or not, Díaz is having an exceptional year on both sides of the plate. Right now, he is one of the best catchers in baseball. In terms of fWAR, he is sixth best among all MLB catchers (1.1 fWAR). His wRC+? 114.
Díaz is also hitting with some power this season. In 2023, he has hit six home runs (compared with his best season in 2021, when he hit 21). He’s also overperforming. ZiPS projected Díaz would hit seven home runs in 2023. He’s on track to far surpass that. In fact, he’s good enough that the Rockies have him batting cleanup in place of CJ Cron, who’s on the IL. When runners are in scoring position, Díaz has an OPS+ of 151.
Now that is what the Padres need.
You have my attention, but how’s the defense?
It’s good. He already has 12 CS (“Caught Stealing”) For comparison, last year in 104 games, he had 15 CS. That ties him for third-most in baseball. Shea Langeliers leads MLB with 16; Gabriel Moreno is second with 14; and Díaz and JR Realmuto each have 12.
Díaz is having a career year — as in All-Star-good year. In short, Elias Díaz would be a great addition to the Padres’ roster.
Okay, how likely is a deal?
Díaz has a very reasonable contract. He’s in the second year of a three-year, $14.5 million contract, so the Padres would have him through the 2024 season.
The Rockies are not known for being very active at the trade deadline, but that’s changed some since Bill Schmidt became general manager. In fact, they were very active during offseason. Plus, the Rockies really need starting pitching. They’ve lost three members of their starting rotation, and their farm system is thin on pitching. If the Padres want this deal to happen, they will probably need to making pitching part of the deal (say, Jay Groome or Angel Felipe, especially if the Rockies were willing to throw in Elehuris Montero as a potential DH).
Okay, Rockies, let’s make a deal.