Padres Editorial: Looking Forward to 2016

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Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego
Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego

With the trade deadline now only one week away, and with the opening shots fired with both the Scott Kazmir and Aramis Ramirez trades on Thursday, what better time to evaluate the San Diego Padres future than right now.

Before any moves are made by the Padres it seemed like a good idea to analyze the Padres big league roster as it is, and predict what it will look like on August 1st.

Beyond that, with several players most likely getting shipped out, and several prospects/big leaguers joining the team, it is a good time to take a look at what the Padres roster could look like beyond this year on opening day of 2016.

Consider this a look forward at next year, without any definite knowledge of what players may no longer be Padres next year. For this endeavor we will focus on which players are most likely to get traded, and what prospects the Padres already have in their system for the long-term.

Let’s begin with what may or may not happen in the next week. Somehow there is still some uncertainty from the Padres front office about what their goals are for the trade deadline or whether they will take the direction of buyer or seller.

Below are a series of Tweets from Dennis Lin about the Padres intentions according to Ron Fowler.

Could Fowler really be anymore delusional or stubborn? The Padres currently sit 10.5 games out of the National League West after a shutout loss against the lowly Miami Marlins and they sit 8.5 games out of the Wild Card with four teams to jump to be in position for the Second Wild Card. Beyond that their current playoff odds sit at just 1.1% for Baseball Prospectus projections and a more respectable 3.2% according to Fangraphs projections.

It really can’t be anymore clear at this point that the Padres should be sellers and they should be selling as soon as possible (and perhaps they should have started selling already). I understand the desire to be at .500 and trying to appease an antsy fanbase but selling seems to be the clear move here. The sooner Fowler and crew accept that, the better. 

In terms of what pieces the Padres have to sell, they have no shortage of players that really need to go sooner rather than later. On top of the list is Justin Upton. He’s probably one of the most coveted bats at the trade deadline and will be a free agent following the 2015 season. The way I see it the Padres have about a 5% chance of resigning him. It is better to cut ties with him now and see what the return can be rather than make a qualifying offer and get a compensation draft pick in next year’s draft.

Mandatory Credit: Getty Images
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images

Beyond the sure fire trade chip that is Upton, the Padres have a few other impending free agents that could be more minor trade chips that should definitely find themselves on new teams in the next week. The most interesting of which is Ian Kennedy. In a seller’s market, with many teams in need of cheaper starting pitching options, Kennedy could be a good option for a variety of teams. Beyond Kennedy and Upton, Will Venable and Shawn Kelley are both impending free agents that could provide some cheaper value for a few teams with playoff aspirations. One more guy who isn’t a free agent but is likely to be traded given his age and value, is Joaquin Benoit who does have an option for 2016.

Come August 1st all five of these players should be with new teams. It’s obviously not a guarantee with this Padres front office but it should happen. If we look further past the obvious trade options we get into the players that are not free agents but still have their names on the market. This would include both James Shields and Craig Kimbrel with their large multi-year contracts, as well as cheaper arbitration eligible players like Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner. These players are the ones who aren’t surefire trade pieces, and arguably shouldn’t be. It makes sense to drop the names on the market and see what other teams would be willing to give to get anyone of these guys. For the Padres it could work as a salary dump in the first case, or a recouping of strong minor league assets in both Shields/Kimbrel or Ross/Cashner.

Based on the comments above made by Fowler, it seems unlikely that the Padres will go into full seller mode with these four players. They don’t seem to want to be cutting payroll and still seem to be all in for the immediate future. If these players are kept they create a good core the Padres can build on going forward with both the prospects they get in other, more obvious trades, as well as the players they are more certain to keep and have for next year. I think the Padres end up trading at least one of these four pitchers, with perhaps Kimbrel or Cashner being the most likely option. Kimbrel would help replenish the Padres farm and could provide them some much needed salary relief for the offense. Let’s face it, the Padres aren’t getting rid of Matt Kemp or Melvin Upton anytime soon, so they could use that salary relief.

So based on these assumptions, on August 1st the Padres will be without Justin Upton, Will Venable, Ian Kennedy, and Joaquin Benoit with perhaps any one or two of Shields, Kimbrel, Ross, and Cashner joining them on new teams following the trade deadline. In return the Padres should be able to get somewhere in the range of 5-10 decent to solid prospects that could help contribute to the team in 2016 and beyond. Obviously it’s a little difficult to speculate on who the Padres will get in return at the trade deadline, but what is known is the current state of the Padres farm system going forward.


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