The San Diego Padres are desperately trying to overhaul their franchise and create more of a cohesive balanced unit. Last season on Easter Sunday, the day before the major league season was to start, A.J. Preller and the Padres pulled off a blockbuster deal acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Atlanta Braves.
The whole trade was Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. for Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Matt Wisler and Jordan Paroubek. Kind of amazing the Padres pulled off a deal hours before rosters had to be finalized. With a history like that, could the team have another deal up their sleeve before the 2016 season starts?
A.J. Preller is difficult to predict. He has stated numerous times that he prefers not to let any information leak about what the team is trying to do. Major media outlets try to predict the Padres moves, but are seemingly always way off on their predictions. That leads to a lot of bad press about the second year G.M. and what he is doing with the team.
Still if you have payed attention to the Padres camp thus far, you will notice there is something different about this team. Andy Green has a lot to do with it, but the squad as a whole just seems like a better cohesive team. The loss of Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit, Jedd Gyorko and Justin Upton are huge, don’t get me wrong. However the Padres team just seems to have a swagger about them that just wasn’t consistently there last season.
It is obvious that this year the team is working harder than they have in seasons past. The multiple fielding and hitting drills implemented by Andy Green are tiresome drills meant to sharpen the players thought process and mirror game situations. They will benefit this team, and I believe the players are beginning to realize that.
In fact it was reported by Dennis Lin that the Padres haven’t used their basketball hoop on site like the team did last season. The players are obviously tired after their workouts and even though its early in the spring, they are leaving all that they have on the field. Green will get the most out of his players. That you can be sure of.
So does A.J. Preller have a trade or two up his sleeve? The answer is probably yes. I can guarantee you that the Padres at the very least have a couple of different potential deals working. Now if those potential deals actually turn into trades is another thing. Rest assured that A.J. Preller is working overtime to solve the issues that have traditionally plagued the Padres.
With the arrival of Andy Green, the defense will surely pick up next season. There is no doubt in my mind the Padres will play better defense and more importantly the team will be put in the correct position to make the play. Green was in charge of defense last year for the Arizona Diamondbacks and they had the best defense in the league.
There are some positions of strength within the Padres team. Starting pitching is definitely one of the teams assets as James Shields, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner form a very formidable trio at the top of the rotation. Behind them Brandon Morrow and Brandon Maurer will most likely fill out the rotation, but Colin Rea, Drew Pomeranz, Carlos Villanueva and Robbie Erlin will all be given the opportunity to start as well.
One of those big three pitchers could be dealt and the Padres also have a trio of catchers that are all seemingly major league ready. Derek Norris is the starter right now, but the team brought in a defensive specialist named Christian Bethancourt from the Braves. The young catcher has great defensive skills but struggles with the bat.
Much like the third member of the Padres trio. Austin Hedges can receive the ball at an all-star caliber level right now, but his bat has been holding him back. The Padres have the ability to send him to Triple-A for the 2016 season but that seems like a perfect way to stunt his growth after he was called up last season to sit on the bench on most days.
The catching situation could lead to a deal. Derek Norris is under team control for the next three seasons and is a great value right now at the catcher position. Hedges is very young and has a very high ceiling. Bethancourt might not have the ceiling Hedges has, but he is more rounded a player at this point. The catchers position is one of great weakness around major league baseball, so the Padres have three very interesting commodities.
If the Padres get an offer for Tyson Ross they can’t refuse, he could also be dealt. James Shields and his contract is too complicated a situation for any team to trade for. Cashner is in the last year of his deal and his value is low right now. I don’t see Preller moving Cashner for pennies on the dollar. It is just not his style. If Cashner is dealt this season it might be around the trade deadline, hopefully after he boost his value with a productive first couple of months of the season.
A trade could very well happen and it could center around one of the catchers. Both Hedges and Norris have some value and each could be moved if the right deal comes along. The Padres are still in the early stages of evaluation, but once games are played and players exhibit their skills, expect the trade talks to heat up for the Padres. A.J. Preller is not afraid to make deals, and the team could very easily make a move in the next month. Stay tuned.