As we wrote last year (here), San Diego Padres GM, AJ Preller, is a madman (or at least he was last offseason). Preller dominated headlines with his bold moves to rebuild a Padres team that under-performed in 2014. Fast-forward to this offseason and Preller’s Padres are coming off a worse record than ’14. Whatever reason his moves didn’t work is up for debate. What is likely, however, is that the Friars will again be in for a busy winter after standing pat at the trade deadline.
Being that Preller may be strapped for cash to add to his current roster, the widely-speculated direction for the team is to sell it’s established pieces and fatten up a farm system that was depleted to bring in many of those veterans. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some moves that would make sense for the Padres and their trading partners.
James Shields (RHP)
Tyson Ross (RHP)
Javier Baez (SS/2B)
Billy McKinney (OF)
Pierce Johnson (RHP)
Justin Steele (LHP)
While the Cubs have money to spend in free agency, they also have a huge stable of young players from which they can deal. In Shields, the Cubs get a top of the rotation starter to pair with Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, making Tyson Ross the best #4 starter in baseball, if you don’t believe he would be ahead of Shields on the depth chart (which some would). San Diego also pitches in money which makes Shields affordable for Chicago and gives the Padres a better return.
Many now believe Javier Baez can stick at shortstop which fills a huge void for the Padres and gives them a potential star for years to come. Add to that, the Cubs’ #2 prospect in McKinney and pitching prospects Pierce Johnson (#7) and Justin Steele (#16).
Matt Kemp (OF)
Rafael Montero (RHP)
Domonic Smith (1B)
Kemp had a strong second-half for the second straight season and while you’d love to keep his bat in the middle of the order, his inconsistency, big salary and injury history suggest the Padres should eat some of the salary and try to sell high on his post all-star break numbers in 2015.
The question then becomes who will take Kemp knowing all that and how much money will the Padres have to kick in. The answer is the Mets who need a corner outfielder and would take Kemp as a $15-16 million dollar a year player. You may have heard about their five young, extremely talented starting pitchers, so the Pads may be able to peel the currently-injured Montero away.
Other options for Kemp include: Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.
Craig Kimbrel (RHP)
Mark Appel (RHP)
It’s no secret that the downfall of the Astros in the postseason was its bullpen not being able to hold onto leads. The best closer in baseball (Kimbrel) certainly helps, and Houston’s bullpen in 2015 already included 7 former Padres, so why not one more?
Getting Appel may be off-limits for a few reasons, however, his struggles in the minor leagues may be enough for Astros GM, Jeff Luhnow, to pull the trigger. Imagine what Darren Balsley could do with the former #1 overall pick. If this deal doesn’t go down, an alternate option would be outfielder Preston Tucker and Houston’s #14 prospect Thomas Eshelman.
Andrew Cashner (RHP)
Luke Jackson (RHP)
Andrew Faulkner (LHP)
Heading into his final year before free agency, Cashner is a great mid-rotation starter with top of the rotation upside for a contending team. These two teams have hooked up on notable deals in the past, but this time it’s with Preller’s ties to the Rangers that make it interesting.
Other options for Cashner include: Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals.
Derek Norris (C)
James Paxton (LHP) or DJ Peterson (3B/1B)
The (hopeful) emergence of Austin Hedges behind the dish allows San Diego to move Norris and sign a veteran back up catcher to Hedges in free agency. While it may be preferable to continue to ease Hedges into the big leagues for another season, catching is at a premium so holding onto two capable, controllable backstops is more a luxury than a necessity.
With Mike Zunino still in the fold, perhaps this deal is somewhat unlikely. If Norris were to have a second suitor, the Braves or White Sox could be interested.
These deals would make the Padres considerably younger while also freeing up payroll and re-building a rotation with young prospects ready to contribute at the major-league level within a couple years.
Here’s a look at the re-made 2016 Padres’ options.
C – Hedges, Veteran Free Agent
1B – Yonder Alonso, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks
2B – Jedd Gyorko, Cory Spangenberg
SS – Baez, Gyorko
3B – Yangervis Solarte, Spangenberg, Middlebrooks
LF – Tucker, Hunter Renfroe
CF – Travis Jankowski, Melvin Upton Jr.
RF – Myers, Rymer Liriano
SP – Ian Kennedy (if he accepts Qualifying Offer), Paxton, Odrisamer Despaigne, Colin Rea, Robbie Erlin, Casey Kelly, Montero (when fully recovered) Free Agent Signees
RP – Joaquin Benoit (another strong trade candidate), Kevin Quackenbush, Brandon Maurer, Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Vincent, Cory Mazzoni, Leonel Campos, Jon Edwards, Frank Garces, Marcos Mateo
Let’s say the Padres continue to pile on, however, and look to free agents. Denard Span and Ian Desmond would be ones to keep an eye on.
No matter the course Preller decides to take, it promises to be another exciting offseason at Petco Park.