There are more, but these three stick out the most in mind. Kinsler was signed in 2019 despite the fact the team had Luis Urias ready for major league service time. The move was questioned right away, and it got worse as Kinsler slumped and eventually flipped off the crowd at Petco Park for the nightly boos he earned. Urias stayed in Triple-A, where he recorded a .998 OPS and slugged 19 homers for the Chihuahuas in 73 games. Kinsler ended his career in a Padres uniform, recording a .646 OPS in 87 games.
Bryan Mitchell and Chase Headley were acquired from the New York Yankees in December of 2017 for Jabari Blash. Headley never showed anything in his second stint with the Padres as he put up a .115/.233/.135 batting line in 27 games and was released in May of 2018, ending his career. The Padres expected Headley to solidify the third base position, but that was not the case. Mitchell started 11 games for the Padres and ended the 2018 season with a 5.42 ERA and a 1.753 WHIP in 16 games. The right-handed pitcher showed promise and was expected to be a focal point of the starting rotation. But that never happened. Unfortunately, Mitchell spent the entire 2019 season in the minors recording an 8.68 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP in 17 games and 15 starts.
Trade of undervalued prospects/players like France and Quantrill
The Padres have a history of trading young players who develop in other teams’ systems. From Ozzie Smith to Roberto Alomar to Trea Turner, the Padres have dealt some very valuable players who made a mark in other cities. In the 2020 trade deadline, when the Padres were in playoff contention, they made two massive deals. One was to acquire Mike Clevinger (see below) from the Indians, and the other was to acquire three players (which later turned out to be four) from the Mariners (Nola, Allen, Altavilla, and Williams). The idea was that this group would increase the chances that the Padres go deep into the playoffs. When you are a contending team, packaging prospects for relevant talent is not an issue. However, correctly choosing the right prospects to deal is key.
There were a total of 10 young players (Austin Hedges does not count) dealt in basically 24 hours in late August of 2020. At this time, Ty France and Cal Quantrill stick out horribly. Both young players excelled in their second year. Quantrill finished 2021 with an 8-3 record and a 2.89 ERA in 22 starts and 40 games with Cleveland. Quantrill threw a total of 149.2 innings and recorded a 1.176 WHIP displaying numerous pitches that were effective. France helped lead Seattle as they almost made the playoffs in 2021. The infielder put up a .813 OPS in 152 games for the Mariners. He slugged 18 homers and, at the age of 26, looks to be headed for a respectable career in the majors. The scary part of these trades is Andres Munoz is back healthy and throwing over 100 mph, Taylor Trammel flashed moments of being a productive outfielder, and Owen Miller and Matt Brash made their major league debut. Gabriel Arias and Joey Cantillo are also close to debuting. Then there is Josh Naylor and Luis Torrens, who both produced for their teams in 2021. The Padres traded away several players who will likely enjoy decent major league careers.
Incorrect evaluation of Mike Clevinger
The Padres needed an ace as the 2020 playoffs neared. Mike Clevinger was the best pitcher available, and the Padres pulled the trigger. Clevinger went down with an elbow injury right when the Padres needed him the most, and the rest is history. But were there any warning signs of his potential demise?
Clevinger’s history of arm injuries and his across-the-body arm mechanics that always lead to arm issues were the biggest red flag. He was also dealt by a Cleveland team that was playoff-bound and in search of pitching themselves. That is a warning sign in itself. Clevinger was never considered a durable pitcher either, as he never threw more than 200 innings in the majors. The Padres paid a hefty price and felt remorse from the trade almost immediately.
Trading Taylor Trammel 11 months after paying a hefty price
Dealing Franmil Reyes immediately left the fans up in arms in July of 2019. The big outfielder was a favorite in the city, and most fans were outraged by the trade. The big get for the Padres was Taylor Trammel, who has a great personality himself and is considered a 5-tool talent.
Unfortunately for Padres fans, Trammel was dealt to Seattle roughly 11 months after acquiring him. By doing this, the Padres essentially got very little for Franmil Reyes and Logan Allen. The Padres traded for a prospect who had diminished value, and then they dealt him 11 months later for pennies on the dollar. Not necessarily how to do business. Major league teams usually like to buy low and sell high when it comes to trading with other teams. Taylor Trammel may or may not be a decent major leaguer when it is all said and done, but if you pay the price for him, then you are invested in him. Strangely, Trammel was moved before ever given a chance to play every day at the major league level. Even worse, the Padres fans are left with only memories of La Mole.
The hiring of Green and Tingler (Rothschild too)
Two times A.J. Preller chose managers with zero experience at the major league level. Andy Green and Jayce Tingler learned on the job, and that was often brutal to watch. Green was not fortunate enough to have a decent roster, but Tingler was handed the keys to a brand new sports car. The results from either man leave little to be desired. They were both hand-picked by A.J. Preller.
When choosing a manager, a certain amount of experience is needed. In addition, the candidate should be aware of the speed of the major league game. Learning on the job is one thing, but a modern manager must not make the same mistakes over and over again. The Padres currently have a chance to bring in a manager with experience. With A.J. Preller’s job on the line, there is no doubt that this man will be given more freedom. Well, at least Padres fans can only hope.
Trading for Marisnick and Hudson at the 2021 deadline
Mason Thompson, Jordy Barley, and Anderson Espinoza are not top 100 prospects (although Espinoza was once considered that good). The Padres possess prospect depth still, and there is no doubt they can move some of these prospects without suffering much at the major league level. Thompson debuted for the Padres in 2021 and showed flashes of something special. There is a lot to work on for the young hurler, but he does have an upside. Thompson and Jordy Barley (minor league shortstop) were dealt for Daniel Hudson of the Nationals. The right-handed pitcher was productive for the Nationals going 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA and a 0.918 WHIP in 32.2 innings pitched. However, he tanked with the Padres, recording a 5.21 ERA in 19 innings pitched. The 34-year-old is a middle reliever, yet the Padres paid a bounty equivalent to a lower-tiered closer. Hudson is a productive major league pitcher, but in reality, the Padres could have looked elsewhere for talent at a lower price. Or they could have just allowed Thompson to develop. Hindsight is 20/20, but this deal could turn sour for the Padres in time.
Jake Marisnick is a backup outfielder. Paired with a left-handed starting outfielder, he has some value. You can see what the Padres were trying to do as Trent Grisham is a left-handed hitter. But Grisham hits lefties better than right-handers and is the reigning Gold Glove centerfielder in the NL. Marisnick is someone you claim off waivers, not a player you deal a prospect for, especially one with the abilities of Anderson Espinoza. At 23, Espinoza could still be a decent pitcher in the majors. In 2021, his velocity returned to the 97-98 mph mark. He also displayed a better spin on his breaking stuff. Espinoza has a long road ahead, but you have to figure he still had some intriguing value to teams. Marisnick has a mutual $4 million option for the 2021 season. The Padres will surely balk at the idea of bringing him back at that price. Espinoza is nothing but a memory now. Well, at least Drew Pomeranz is on the 40-man roster.