The San Diego Padres season obviously hasn’t gone as planned. AJ Preller made all sorts of off-season splashes that were supposed to propel the Padres into playoff contention. Injuries and struggles from many of those acquisitions has led the Padres to being 7 games out of the National League West right before the All Star Break. The Padres are quickly headed towards seller territory and that might realistically be the best option for them going forward. One interesting trade piece that has gotten more attention recently is long time Padres Outfielder Will Venable.
Going into the season Will Venable was relegated to the role of a backup outfielder along with Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin. When those two other guys were traded to the Atlanta Braves on the eve of the season for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton, Venable was suddenly the Padres main backup. With the various injury problems of Wil Myers, Venable was thrust even further into the spotlight and has been a starter for the Padres pretty consistently over the last two months.
Will Venable has been a pleasant surprise for the Padres to say the least. Prior the season, not many expected much from Venable as a backup. Venable has responded well to being thrust back into the starting lineup and has proven all his naysayers wrong. So far on the year in 69 games played, with 218 plate appearances, Venable has a slash line of .260/.321/.410. He also has a wRC+ of 108 and has been good for 1.1 WAR up until this point. Given these numbers, and if he is able to maintain this consistency and playing time, Venable may be in a career year better than his best season in 2013.
With these consistent offensive numbers, Venable has significantly increased his value to a Padre team that has really struggled with scoring runs this year. On the team Venable is third in wRC+ behind Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Yonder Alonso. Myers has less playing time than Venable while Alonso has around the same and Upton has quite a bit more. This shows what a large part Venable has played in the Padres offense up until this point on the season. He has also produced a higher WAR than any other Padre position player except Justin Upton and Derek Norris.
With all these numbers in mind it is clear that Will Venable has had quite a role to play on this team and has definitely been instrumental to any success the Padres have had. Going forward this year Venable could continue to be an instrumental part of what the Padres can do this season going forward. However given his age, turning 33 later this year, and him being in the final year of his contract, it would make the most sense for the Padres to trade Venable while his value is at its highest point.
At this point trading Will Venable makes a ton of sense. Once Wil Myers returns to the lineup near the beginning of August, Venable will find himself once again on the outside looking in. With Melvin Upton as another option under contract, and nearly untradable at this point, Venable may find himself more expendable. There is not much of a seller’s market that has developed up until this point and the Padres may find themselves in a good position to get a good return while Venable’s value is sky high.
It has already been established that there is quite a few teams who are in contention or who wish to be in contention that are in need of some outfield help. Some teams that seem to be in need of some outfield help, and consider themselves to be ready for contention in the second half, include the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Chicago Cubs, and perhaps even the New York Mets. Venable would definitely help any number of these teams and him being a left-handed bat only increases his trade value. Any one of these teams could be a good fit for Venable and the Padres should discuss and consider all options (except maybe the San Francisco Giants).
Will Venable is having one of the best years of his career and has been a big part of the Padres offense so far this year. Losing him would be a bit of a loss but with his impending free agency, and the anticipated return of Wil Myers, Venable may be expendable. At 32 years old, Venable’s trade value may never be higher and if the Padres become sellers he should be one of the first players to go. Will Venable has spent his entire career in San Diego, and has had both good and bad years, but it may be time for a change of scenery for both him and for the Padres.