When the season began, most assumed the San Diego Padres would acquire an upgrade in the outfield.
No such move was made and the Padres have been plugging along with the likes of Trent Grisham, Jurickson Profar, and a mixture of Wil Myers, Nomar Mazara, and José Azocar. Could Ramón Laureano be an option ahead of August 2’s trade deadline?
Now, entering the midway point of the 2022 season, the need remains. There is no timetable for Myers’ return from his knee injury. Even then, it’s not like he was red-hot (.583 OPS). Mazara came on strong and currently has a .763 OPS and 123 OPS+ in limited action. Azocar has limitations at the plate, but is a sneaky-good weapon on the bases and with the glove.
In center, Grisham is still hitting below .200 with an on-base percentage less than .300. His defense in center field buys him a lot of grace with his struggles at the plate. Laureano has played 300 career games in center field for Oakland. He has a reputation for a strong arm, a reliable glove, and a passable bat at the plate. Is it worth A.J. Preller looking into a trade with the Athletics for the 27-year-old Dominican?
There are already rumblings that Preller could be looking to acquire the outfielder.
"Ramon Laureano. He’s a name I’d keep in mind."https://t.co/JhyNG8hhIV
— Jon & Jim (@JonAndJim) June 28, 2022
The question is- will he replace Grisham in center or be the everyday right fielder? This season, he has played twice as many games in right field as he has in center. Acquiring him does not have to completely displace Grisham. In fact, it shouldn’t. For Grisham’s struggles at the plate, his defensive metrics are superior to Laureano’s in center field over the last three seasons.
|DRS in CF|
It should be noted that Grisham has played in nearly 80 more games than Laureano over the past three seasons. However, in 2020, they almost played the same amount of games. Grisham still had the edge in Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average. Where Laureano may have a slight edge is at the plate, at least since 2021.
The elephant in the room for Laureano is his PED suspension. On August 6, 2021 Laureano was suspended 80 games for testing positive for nandrolone, a known performance enhancing drug. He returned in May of this year and clearly has not found his groove in 2022, with two homers and a .239 average in 44 games. The question remains how much of his previous success at the plate was due to PEDs? It’s impossible to answer fully.
His 24 homers in 2019 now look like a farce. While he may not have 20-plus homer power, his adequate glove in the outfield can offer some depth and value in a Padres outfield that is depleted of depth and reliability.
Even still, Laureano has not looked like the same player in the short time since returning from his suspension. His lack of pop at the plate and dip in defensive metrics bare that out, albeit with a small sample size.
Overall, the Padres should be looking to make upgrades in the outfield. Acquiring Laureano would not solve all of their problems, especially offensively. He would only be a marginal improvement from Grisham, if at all, in center. There is no need to burn elite prospect capital in a deal for Laureano, despite his two years of control following this season. Grisham is faster and at least as good of a fielder, while not faring significantly worse at the plate.
If the Padres are truly seeking for a big upgrade over Grisham in center, they should look elsewhere. If they see Laureano as merely adding depth and versatility to the outfield as a unit, then they should consider a deal with some limits on price.