EVT Padres Roundtable: Evaluating the Luis Arraez trade

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This past weekend, the San Diego Padres made a trade for former Marlins DH and 2023 National League batting champion Luis Arraez. Therefore, some of our Padres writers here at the East Village Times came together to examine the trade and answer a few questions about the trade. 


1) Where does Arraez fit in the line-up and on the field?

Loren Casuto: I would use him in the two-hole, where his hitting would be beneficial with an (admittedly not traditional) table-setter like Profar/Tatis up front. However, it appears that the Padres will use Arraez at the top of the lineup and as the DH. Between him and Solano (and, to a lesser extent, Wade), the Padres have the ability to rotate and rest everyone in the infield.

Diego Garcia: As we saw over the weekend in Arizona, Arraez is essentially the lead-off hitter going forward. The high-contact approach that has made him a batting champion the last two seasons is something the Padres had been lacking thus far in the season, as they had gotten middling production from Xander Bogaerts in that spot. Defensively, it’s more likely than not that we see Arraez at second base as opposed to first. His versatility is certainly a helpful attribute, as he can spell Xander Bogaerts or Jake Cronenworth should they need a day off. However, since most defensive metrics aren’t as fond of Arraez’s work, it is most likely we will continue to see him playing primarily as the Padres’ designated hitter.

Nick Lee: Arraez batting leadoff seems right. He’s not a big thumper. He is a table-setter. Who better to set the table for than Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and now the 2020-2021 version of Jake Cronenworth? Defensively is a bit trickier. I do think he should be primarily DH. His defense is terrible, and this Padres team prides itself on good defense. When Machado or Bogaerts need a day off, he can slide in the infield. But I think that needs to be sparingly.


2) What does this trade mean for the roster this year or next year?

Casuto: I think it says two big things: First, the Padres are even more comfortable with Jackson Merrill than even the most optimistic fan is. The Padres have completely cleared any obstacle and competition from his path by trading Jakob Marsee and even Dillon Head. All that’s left is Homer Bush Jr., and he could conceivably slide into left field. At the same time, the Padres are comfortable with Profar now and maybe more comfortable in finding a long-term left field opportunity; there’s always another shortstop somewhere who can move. Second, I don’t believe the Padres are confident they can keep Ha-Seong Kim, and therefore they got a player who could fill in at first base if Bogarts and Cronenworth need to return to what they previously played.

Garcia: The trade for Arraez, in my opinion, carries two primary repercussions for the Padres. First off, the trading of Marsee and Head means that the Padres have faith in Tirso Ornelas to be an outfield option in the near future. On this same note, the team must have a belief that Jurickson Profar can maintain his 2024 form, as Marsee was set to be a potential replacement for him for 2025. Secondly, making this trade at this time indicates that the Padres’ front office is leaning towards buying as opposed to selling this trade deadline. Granted, it’s still fairly early in the season, but with the National League playoff race being what it is, having major holes filled will go a long way toward helping the Padres. If the team goes on a winning run in the dog days of summer, Arraez and his lineup presence will most likely be playing a role.

Lee: This hinges on whether or not the Padres can retain Jurickson Profar (kind of crazy to be saying that, huh?). If Profar returns, the entire lineup basically seems set. It’s amazing what just the addition of Arraez did to the depth and length of this lineup. I still think outfield depth is a concern. However, I am a lot less concerned about the 2025 Padres with the additions of Dylan Cease and Arraez.


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3) Did the Padres trade too much?

Casuto: On Friday evening I thought they might’ve traded too much because of one player, Jakob Marsee. By trading him and Head, the Padres basically “burned their ships” when it comes to the outfield. Outside of AAAA players like Ornelas, Mitchell and Mercado, and one good prospect in Homer Bush Jr who is at least two years away, there’s no reinforcements coming. The team has to feel confident that they are set with Jackson Merrill in CF and Profar for 2024, and they’re confident they can find a fill-in, worst case, for left field in 2025. On Saturday morning after hearing the Padres were only going to pay the league minimum for Arraez this year, my position had flipped. That was a worthwhile price to pay, even if it strips the Padres of their minor-league outfield depth.

Garcia: No. The Padres did not trade “too much”. Quantifying a return on a trade immediately after it happens is not a practical or logical method of evaluating, as different organizations will have different avenues/numbers for player evaluation. The Marlins may have been higher on some of the prospects than the Padres, or vice versa. I think the trade package gets blown out of proportion due to the prospect rankings, which are always subjective depending on the evaluator. Granted, Dillon Head has the label of a former first-rounder, and there are certainly things to like about each prospect in the deal, but dealing from a position that the Padres have a lot of rising prospects from makes sense if you’re A.J. Preller. That and if A.J. Preller can do something, it’s to replenish a farm system in no time, which has me thinking they’ll look into a college outfielder in the early rounds of the draft. For all we know, the contributions from Arraez may wind up to be worth more than any prospect package if the trade results in a deep playoff run, or dare I say, a World Series victory.

Lee: No. The Padres are in win-now mode. They cannot afford to wait until Joe Musgrove, Machado and Bogaerts are pushing into their mid-30s and Darvish into his 40s. The time to strike is now. Plus, A.J. Preller is GM-ing for his job right now. Let’s worry about the 2027 Padres in 2027. Let’s make the playoffs now.


4) Do you think AJ is on the hot seat more or less after this move?

Casuto: The problem with this question is that it’s not the actual question. The real question to ask is “What were AJ Prellar’s goals for the 2024 season?” If it was to win or else, he may never have traded Juan Soto. As good as King and Cease and Arraez are, you don’t trade generational talent, even if they’re a pain in the butt, in a do or die season. His other moves pre-Cease and Arraez, while beneficial, aren’t the kind of moves you make when you’re in that situation. If anything they’re the moves of a general manager who has been told to “cut payroll above all else ”, which likely was AJ’s true goal for 2024. With two arbitros contracts in Cronenworth and Bogarts, he did what he needed to do, and did so successfully. I don’t know if AJ Prellar has been given new instructions but regardless he’s clearly making moves with the CBT limit in mind. He likely either traded additional players or engaged in a jedi mind trick in the Arraez deal to get the Marlins to pay his salary. But to be honest, whether it’s to build a team that can win or be under the CBT limit or both, AJ shouldn’t feel like his seat is hot right now.

Garcia: At this point, I don’t see AJ Preller being on the hot seat. AJ has had an incredibly difficult task this season, attempting to maximize what he can get out of this roster with the payroll and competitive balance tax/luxury tax threshold limitations. Getting Dylan Cease before the season may have been the water to extinguish the flaming seat that would have been, considering the prices for pitching in the offseason and likely at the deadline. Even if AJ was to be on the hot seat, the ability to not only improve the lineup and shed payroll in the same transaction has certainly earned him some more leeway. Now, if AJ goes out and has an ineffective trade deadline, the hot seat may be back on, but for the time being, I would say that he isn’t necessarily on the hot seat.

Lee: I honestly don’t think his seat got any colder or warmer with this move. It’s warm. It’s approaching a boil. If the Padres do not make the playoffs this season, he should be gone. He doesn’t deserve to be the Padres president and GM in 2025 and beyond if the best he can do is one playoff appearance in nine full regular seasons. That’s unacceptable and a fireable offense. This move is another one that he hopes will save his job.

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