Just barely three weeks into the 2015-2016 offseason, the San Diego Padres have already made quite a bit of noise. The Padres traded both Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel, and have also made several other smaller moves. A.J. Preller and company are just getting started. After such a disappointing 2015 season, the Padres have a long to-do list this offseason and are wasting no time getting started on it.
This began with Kimbrel and Benoit and likely ends with several more moves before Opening Day 2016. While the Padres are far from done this offseason, they have already remade their farm system and are well on their way to remaking their Major league team as well.
As it stands the Padres have made two significant trades, of Benoit and Kimbrel, as well as a few other minor trades and signings. With so much work still to do this offseason, these moves represent only the tip of the iceberg.
The Padres could lose up to eight players to free agency; Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Brandon Morrow, Justin Upton, Clint Barmes, Bud Norris, Shawn Kelley, and Cory Luebke, and will need to do a lot of work to replace that talent. With that being said, since the Padres have already made several moves, it is never too early to analyze what new players the Padres will be bringing to San Diego in 2016. Think of this as a mini recap of what has happened for the Padres so far this offseason and what it means for the 2016 season.
Jose Pirela, 2nd
In what was the first of the three trades A.J. Preller has completed so far this offseason, the Padres sent RHP Ronald Herrera to the New York Yankees in return for second baseman Jose Pirela. Pirela had seemingly fallen out of favor in New York and represents a cheap add for the Padres. Pirela is already 26 years old and played in 37 games for the Yankees in 2015. Pirela will likely be given a chance to earn a Major League roster spot in next year’s Spring Training, but he represents nothing much more than an upgraded bench piece to what was a mediocre Padres infield in 2015.
Enyel De Los Santos, RHP
The main piece of the trade that sent Joaquin Benoit to the Seattle Mariners, De Los Santos could be a huge steal for the Padres. Given the lack of depth in the Padres minor league system, De Los Santos jumped all the way to 14 on the Padres top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline. He is only 19 and was only in rookie ball last season, but he represents a big arm with a huge upside. At 6’3’’ he has a lot of power behind his fastball and could add even more size as he advances through the minor leagues. Although he likely won’t be big league ready for several years, De Los Santos is a pitcher with a good build, strong mechanics, and a propensity for learning quickly.
Nelson Ward, SS
The second part of the trade that sent Benoit to the Mariners this offseason was shortstop Nelson Ward. Ward played in high A for the Mariners in 2015 and finished the season with a slash line of .282/.362/.436. Ward does not crack the top 30 Padres prospects on MLB Pipeline and lacks the potential upside of de Los Santos. With that being said, Ward definitely has room to impress in the Padres thin minor league system and may profile as a utility player once he makes it to the big leagues.
Manuel Margot, CF
The biggest success of the Craig Kimbrel trade, and probably the biggest success of the Padres offseason so far, was the acquisition of Manuel Margot. Margot jumped right to number one on the Padres top 30 prospect list immediately after the trade was completed. Margot has shown great all around development and profiles as an everyday center fielder with the potential to be a five tool player. At one 21 years old, Margot is already well-advanced for his age and could be given the chance to see Major League action as early as this season. The price was steep, but the Padres very likely have found their center fielder of the future.
Javier Guerra, SS
The second rather significant piece in the Kimbrel trade to the Red Sox was shortstop Javier Guerra. It has been kind of an ongoing joke over the last season that the Padres have no real starting shortstop of their roster. The Padres may have finally found their future shortstop in Javier Guerra. Guerra is known for his agility in the field and his ability to make any play on the diamond. Beyond that, Guerra has opened eyes with his offensive capabilities, hitting for both average and power in Single A last season. Guerra is still around two years away from being big league ready, but he definitely has the potential to be a solid, everyday shortstop.
Carlos Asuaje, 2nd/3rd
The most immediately functional piece of the Craig Kimbrel trade for the Padres was infielder Carlos Asuaje. Blocked by several more talented players in the Red Sox organization, including Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Yoan Moncada, and even Javier Guerra, Asuaje was truly expendable for the Red Sox. With that being said, he is probably the most big league ready of any of the pieces of that trade, and will likely be invited to Spring training next season. Asuaje profiles similarly to Jose Pirela as a utility player, but could surprise if given the proper chance.
Logan Allen, LHP
Perhaps the most interesting piece of the Craig Kimbrel trade was LHP Logan Allen. At only 19 years old, Allen dazzled in Rookie Ball last season and has sky-high potential. Known for his polish and advanced pitching mechanics, Allen has the potential to have four average to plus pitches and could be a strong major league starter. The only downside to Allen is that he is still likely three to four years away from playing in the big leagues, but he, like Enyel de Los Santos, has mountains of potential.
Josmil Pinto, Catcher
Probably the most intriguing acquisition by the Padres so far this offseason was the claiming of catcher Josmil Pinto off waivers from the Minnesota Twins. Pinto is entering his age-27 season and played in 57 big league games for the Twins in 2015. Once a highly touted prospect, several years of minor league struggles lessened Pinto’s value and led to his exit from the Twins organization. With that being said, a fresh start in San Diego may be just what he needs. However, Pinto is merely a organizational depth piece for the Padres, who already have both Derek Norris and Austin Hedges on the big league roster, and Rocky Gale in the minor leagues. Pinto is out of options , but could be retained if the team chooses to deal either Norris or Hedges.
Cesar Vargas, RHP
The Padres also signed a few other pitchers to minor league contracts, in Ramon Benjamin and Juan Arias, but Cesar Vargas perhaps shows the most promise of the three. Vargas was in the Yankees minor league system in 2015, and struggled to an ERA over 6.00 for the Yankees Triple A affiliate. It appears likely, given his minor league experience of over six years, that the Padres could invite Vargas to Spring training and allow him to compete for a roster spot. If Vargas can impress he represents a cheap bullpen depth option for the Padres 2016 roster.