A trade for SD native Mickey Moniak could pay off for Padres

Sep 29, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mickey Moniak (16) hits a home run during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres still have big needs around the roster with a limited budget. A trade with the Angels for Mickey Moniak could be beneficial.

In case you haven’t heard, the Padres need outfielders. They traded away two starting outfielders in one swoop, with Trent Grisham and Juan Soto both shipped to New York. Not only do the Padres desperately need outfielders, but also left-handed bats.

There is a young outfielder coming off of something of a breakout season with the Angels who could be of service. The Padres might be more apt to swing a trade at this point than spend limited payroll on free agents. The Angels are looking to acquire more young talent.

Mickey Moniak not only fits the need as a left-handed outfielder who could play center or left, but he’s a native son of San Diego.

Before the Philadelphia Phillies drafted him first overall in 2016, he was a star at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad. In his senior year, he set a CIF San Diego section record with 12 triples. He also hit .476 with a .961 slugging percentage (that’s just slugging, not OPS). The Encinitas-born lefty was named Baseball America High School Player of the Year, Gatorade California Baseball Player of the Year, and San Diego Section Player of the Year.

Now, that was going on eight years ago. We are talking about improving the San Diego Padres in 2024, not just acquiring a local kid with a full trophy case from his local high school glory days.

Credit: AP Photo

Let’s be frank: Moniak was a bust in Philadelphia. Being the first overall pick of the draft comes with Mount Everest-high expectations. He briefly made his MLB debut in 2020, batting .214 in eight games.

2021 was no better, as he hit a miserable .091 in 21 games with the big league club. He posted a 124 wRC+ in Triple-A in 2022, but it was clear a change of scenery might be best. At the deadline, he became part of the deal that sent Noah Syndergaard from the Angels to the Phillies.

In 2023, he finally got a chance to be nearly an everyday player. After starting out with a .939 OPS in Triple-A, the Angels called him up, and he finally looked like the first-round talent he was over half a decade ago.

In 85 games with the Angels, he slashed .280/.307/.495 with a solid 113 OPS+. He added 14 homers, 45 RBI, and 21 doubles. Against righties, he was especially effective, batting .294 with a .866 OPS.

He’s athletic in the outfield. Him being in the 87th percentile for Outs Above Average in the outfield with 5 Defensive Runs Saved playing centerfield is a testament to his athleticism. He’s in the 83rd percentile in sprint speed. He would be one of the more athletic players on the Padres’ big league roster if A.J. Preller were to execute a trade for him.

Speaking of that, since it’s a trade and not a signing, of course, this means a package to the Angels needs arranging.

The Angels are in something of a new age, the post-Shohei Ohtani era. They are in need of young pitching, and certainly, they wouldn’t mind a young outfielder in exchange for one of their own.

While the Padres are also in need of pitching, they are more lacking in quality veterans in the starting rotation. Parting with the recently acquired Jhony Brito wouldn’t greatly decrease the depth of starting pitching. He is viewed as a fringe starter or long reliever. Still, he is just 25 years old.

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As far as outfielders go, the Padres can’t afford to lose anyone with a chance to be a big contributor in 2024, given their lack of MLB-ready depth at the position. They could flip another recent acquisition, outfielder Drew Campbell. He came over in the deal with the Braves that saw the Padres unload Matt Carpenter.

That gives the Angels a young pitcher with MLB starting experience, as well as a lefty outfielder who finished last season in Double-A.

Moniak should not cost much more than that. This is due to his status as a post-hype player looking to rebuild his stock. With the mild success, he found in Anaheim in 2023, he could be something of a breakout candidate in 2024. Plus, he is not even to his arbitration years yet and made just $720,000 last season.

Certainly, there is risk. Moniak was a failed top prospect with just one stretch of half of a season of success at the big league level in seven years since being drafted. However, the Padres can’t sit idle with their current outfield situation. Moniak would be the second most talented outfielder on the roster after Fernando Tatis Jr. at this moment. If he were to continue his breakout he started last year, the Padres could come out of this as the winner of the deal.

The fact that he could play any outfield spot certainly doesn’t hurt.

The story writes itself. The Padres could fill a big need with a hometown kid looking for more redemption at a place where he attended games growing up. Coming home certainly could help him in that pursuit of a long, big-league career.

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