The San Diego Padres traded away Juan Soto & Trent Grisham on December 6, 2023. Since the duo’s departure, the Padres have only one MLB-caliber starting outfielder on the current 40-man roster, Fernando Tatis Jr.
Jose Azocar, the only other outfield option aside from Tatis on the 40-man, has a career wRC+ of 81 and wOBA of just. 292.
Reports from the Athletics Denis Lin & Ken Rosenthal have stated San Diego will use Spring Training as an “audition” for prospects and in-house options such as Cal Mitchell, Graham Pauley, Jackson Merrill, and Jakob Marsee to attempt to earn one of the opening day Outfield spots.
Even still, relying on a rookie with zero big leagues at-bats or MLB journeymen to fill out one or possibly two of your opening-day outfield spots is a risky to near negligent decision.
Fortunately, San Diego, in recent days, has been engaging in talks with teams who have an abundance or surplus of outfield depth, such as the Boston Red Sox & Milwaukee Brewers. The most notable and real trade discussions at this point have surrounded Red Sox’s CF Jarren Duran.
However, due to Duran’s batted ball data, poor defense, being a strong candidate for offensive regression, and the Padres & Red Sox appearing on paper as non-compatible trade partners, it would perhaps make more sense, even if it is more of a risk, for the Padres to pivot to the Milwaukee Brewers and CF Garett Mitchell.
Garrett Mitchell Profile & Overview
Mitchell is the former 20th overall pick of the 2020 MLB draft out of the University of California Los Angeles. The 25-year-old stands at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, hitting from the left side, and has a rare combination of athleticism, size, and raw tools.
Much like Jarren Duran, Mitchell’s best raw tool is undoubtedly his speed, which ranks in the 94th percentile per baseball savant with a sprint speed (ft/sec) of 29.3; that is equal to Fernando Tatis Jr.
Unlike Duran, however, Mitchell’s speed is not wasted when he takes the field defensively. In his short stints in the MLB, he has shown to be a rangy CF who combines his natural gifts as a runner with a solid first step and above-average tracking & routes to make him a strong defender.
His value defensively becomes even greater when you factor in his 80th percentile arm strength, which, on average, uncorked throws of 89.2 MPH from CF last season.
When looking at Mitchell’s offensive ability, that’s where things become more of a mixed bag for the Orange, California native. In total, Mitchell has just 126 total MLB AB’s to his name. In those 126 AB’s he posted a 119 wRC+, .344 wOBA, and a .795 OPS.
While he has just five career home runs, Mitchell has impressive raw power and has generated exit velocities that have hit 112.3 mph & above. His simple swing, fast hands, and improvements in getting his lower half firing/activated have helped him produce hard contact when he connects.
Paired with his raw power and exit velocity numbers are quality plate discipline data points as he logged a 9.6% BB%, 23.5% chase rate, and just a 23.5% O-swing% (out of zone swing). A good baseline indication that Mitchell has a rather refined view of the strike zone.
Like with most young and developing players there have been some early offensive struggles for Mitchell. Last season, in 73 plate appearances, Mitchell punched out at a staggering 35.6% rate. Over the course of his 141 major league plate appearances, he has a K% of 38.3%., Wiff% 39.7% and SwStr% (swinging strike %) at 18%. He’s a young player, and it’s a rather small sample size, but it’s still a noticeable to concerning amount of swing and miss.
Along with Garrett’s high early strikeout numbers is an approach and swing that, to this point, has produced too many ground balls. Last season, he posted a 40% GB Rate, which is not horrible and perhaps a sign of an adjustment, but in the minors, where we have a larger sample size of data, one can see that Mitchell’s ground ball rates have hovered around 60% at every stop he made in the Brewers minor league system.
Mitchell’s swing is choppy and downward, creating an attack angle that prevents him from fully tapping into his raw power and driving the ball in the air with authority. If San Diego is to trade for Mitchell, retooling his swing and approach to generate a higher FB% and more launch should be the organization’s top priority.
Brewers As Trade Partners:
Another critical reason a trade for Mitchell makes sense is that Milwaukee is a much more compatible trade partner for San Diego than Boston.
Reports suggest that Boston is looking for MLB/MLB-ready pitching; it’s why they have continued to check in on Jordan Montgomery in free agency. That MLB pitching is not something San Diego has or is willing to trade.
As well, Boston appears to want San Diego to take Kenley Jansen and his 16 million dollar contract in the potential Duran deal, presumably so they can free up cash flow and make a run at Montgomery. That’s a financial undertaking San Diego is unequipped and likely unwilling to take on.
Now, let’s flip to the situation with the Brewers. Milwaukee has an outfield surplus with Christian Yelich, Mitchell, Sal Frelick, Jackson Chourio, and Joey Weimer. Also, with the signing of Gary Sanchez and Hoskins, Contreras already on the roster taking up the DH spot, there simply aren’t enough at-bats to go around.
This makes a player like Mitchell expendable and presumably cheaper than Duran due to his lack of MLB reps and prior injuries.
In terms of what a return for Mitchell may look like, it’s fair to expect that the Brewers are also looking for pitching given the trade of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff‘s absence for all of the 2024 season. Yet, given the Brewers’ organizational track record for developing young pitching, the club could certainly be enticed by a young arm such as Adam Mazur or Victor Lizarraga.
Time will tell which way San Diego leans, but if the team chooses to acquire Mitchell, it would be an essential step toward having a more complete and competent outfield come opening day.
I’m a proud San Diegan by birth and have lived here in San Diego for most of my life. For college I attended Sonoma State University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in communications; following my graduation, I returned home to San Diego, where I have worked in the local San Diego media sports scene since 2020.