Padres News: Evaluating the Return in the Craig Kimbrel Trade

Credit: MilB (Carlos Asuaje)
Credit: MilB (Carlos Asuaje)

Following the trade of Joaquin Benoit earlier in the week, some estimated that the trade would mean Craig Kimbrel would still be the San Diego Padres closer come 2016.

That, however, is not the case. On Friday afternoon, the Padres completed a blockbuster deal that sent the closer to the Boston Red Sox in return for four minor league prospects, outfielder Manuel Margot, infielders Javier Guerra and Carlos Asuaje, and left handed pitcher Logan Allen.

At first glance, this seems like a rather large return for a reliever, even an elite one such as Craig Kimbrel. After secondary and tertiary glances at the return, that initial estimate holds true. The general consensus around baseball immediately following the trade is that the Padres made an absolute killing.

For an elite reliever with at minimum two years and $24 million left on his contract (including a $13 million club option for a third year), the Padres got four prospects, two of which were at the top of the Red Sox system, with all four in the top 30, and will quickly slot into the top of the Padres system.

More than enough is known about Kimbrel and the type of pitcher he has been and will be. What isn’t as well known is what kind of prospects the Red Sox are giving up, and what this means for the Padres immediate and long term future. Below each prospect going to the Padres in the trade will be individually evaluated with an eye on the Padres future.

Manuel Margot

Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo/Grace Donnely

Once all the dust settles in the aftermath of this trade, Manuel Margot will be the real prize for the Padres in both the immediate and long term future. Margot is a 21-year-old center fielder who was signed by the Red Sox in the international market in 2011 when he was just 17.

Margot was ranked as the third best prospect in the Red Sox system and was blocked in the big leagues by the combination of Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. With no true major league center fielder in the system, the Padres were smart to acquire a talent of Margot’s level.

Margot spent the 2015 season splitting time between High A and Double A for the Red Sox, finishing his Double A season with a slash line of .271/.326/.419 in 64 games and 282 plate apperances. In his time in High A ball, Margot hit .282/.321/.420 in only 46 games played. Margot is known for his plus-plus speed, his plus-plus glove and his strong bat speed. Beyond that Margot, has surprising power potential for a player his size (5’11, 170 pounds) with a very low strikeout percentage (just under 13% in Double A last season).

Margot was given a 60 future value grade (on the 20-80 scouting scale), which makes him an above average future major leaguer and he also finished at number 19 on prospect guru Kiley McDaniel’s August prospect list. Margot’s estimated arrival in the majors was said to be the latter half of 2016, although that time table could be sped up in San Diego. Margot is definitely the prize of this trade and has high upside as a potential multiple time All-Star.

Javier Guerra

Credit: JIm Rogash/Getty Images
Credit: JIm Rogash/Getty Images

Beyond Margot, who was clearly the prized jewel of the entire trade, the Padres also finally got a viable shortstop option in their system for the long term. Guerra is 20-year-old shortstop prospect who was signed by the Red Sox in the international market in 2012.

Guerra was ranked as the sixth best prospect in the Red Sox system and will most likely immediately slot behind Margot as the second best prospect in the Padres farm system. With Xander Bogaerts as the Red Sox shortstop of the future, Guerra was, like Manuel Margot, blocked in the big leagues by a more proven asset. The Padres biggest need was a long term fit at shortstop, and Guerra seems like that player.

Guerra spent his whole 2015 season in Single A for the Red Sox, finishing the season with a slash line of .279/.329 /.449 in 477 plate appearances across 116 games played. Guerra showed some good power in his 116 games, finishing the season with fifteen home runs and over sixty runs batted in. At only 20 years old, Guerra is still slightly undersized (at 5’11 and only 165 pounds), but he still has plenty of time to grow into his body. Guerra has plus bat speed but suffers from an overaggressive swing that leads to a high strikeout rate, although this is something that he has years to work on before he is big league ready.

Guerra is most known for his well above average defensive skills that are considered “advanced for his age.” He is also known for having a plus throwing arm and he can make any throw from shortstop. If Guerra can further develop his approach and discipline at the plate he can be an above average major league shortstop on the strength of his glove and arm alone. Guerra probably still has at least two more years in the minor leagues before he is major league ready, although he has some strong upside in the long term.

Carlos Asuaje

Credit: Michael Irvins/MSN
Credit: Michael Irvins/MSN

While the first two prospects, Margot and Guerra, were the real prizes of the trade, Carlos Asuaje is more of a dart throw. Asuaje is a 24-year-old infielder, who primarily splits his playing time between second base and third base, and was drafted in the eleventh round of the 2013 Amateur Draft by the Red Sox.

Asuaje spent most of his season in Double A ball last year, finishing the season with a slash line of .251/.334/.374 in 570 plate appearances over 131 games played. In the Sox system, Asuaje was overshadowed by both Yoan Moncada and Javier Guerra, among others. Asuaje provides a strong backup option at any of the infield positions in the Padres thin farm system.

At 24 years old, Asuaje was playing at an advanced age in Double A last season. Asuaje is also rather undersized, at 5’9 and only 160 pounds, but he does have a small, athletic build. Asuaje is known for having a good approach at the plate, with excellent bat control and a strong ability to make contact. His hit tool will probably level at around average in terms of his future value.

Defensively he is considered average at best but his versatility in playing different positions makes him a strong candidate to be a big league utility player. Prior to the trade, Asuaje was ranked as the 23rd prospect in the Red Sox system. While Asuaje lacks the stand out tools of both Margot and Guerra, his versatility and baseball smarts will make him a strong utility option in the future and a good shot in the dark for the Padres.

Logan Allen

Credit: MGN Online
Credit: MGN Online

Finally the Padres acquired recent draftee Logan Allen from the Red Sox as part of the Kimbrel deal. Allen is only 18 years old, as he was just drafted by the Red Sox in the 8th round of the 2015 Amateur Draft and slotted in as the Red Sox 25th best prospect before the trade. Allen played in both rookie ball and low A ball for the Red Sox last season, pitching 20 innings in rookie ball for the Sox in seven appearances with an ERA 0.90 and a FIP of 1.06.

He was also known for his outstanding 10.8 K/9 rate to go along with his minuscule ERA in rookie ball. At this point there isn’t much of a scouting report out on Allen but he sits at a low 90s fastball with a changeup and a variety of breaking balls. Allen is young and still has a lot of work to do but he could be worth something for the Padres sometime in the more distant future.

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Patrick Brewer
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-five years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.

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