Early Friday morning, the San Diego Padres once again jumped to the top of the news cycle and made yet another news making trade. Following the trades of James Shields, Fernando Rodney, Drew Pomeranz, and Melvin Upton, AJ Preller once again pushed the team further into the rebuild with the trade of Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea.
The Miami Marlins had been pushing for starting pitching upgrades over the last several weeks, and Andrew Cashner was a larget throughout the process. With Colin Rea thrown in as well, the Marlins got two rotation pieces for the stretch run this year, and one for the long-term.
While the trade was an obvious one for both sides, it was kind of intriguing that Preller was willing to throw in further pieces on top of Cashner in Colin Rea and Tayron Guerrero, two young players with many years of team control. What this shows is the Padres willingness to think outside of the box to maximize on the major league talent they have currently, gaining the most prospect talent they can for the team’s long term future. In this trade, the organization did just that in receiving major leaguers RHP Jarred Cosart and RHP Carter Capps, and minor leaguers RHP Luis Castillo and 1B Josh Naylor.
As always it is sad to see some of our favorite players get traded to other teams, but the return for those players is what is important. The trade may be less than 24 hours old officially, but it is already looking like A.J. Preller and the Padres have made out great with this trade. It remains to be seen how the trade works out in the long-term, but on paper A.J. Preller once again made an absolute killing, boosting an already strong farm system yet again.
To better understand why the Padres made out so well with this trade, it helps to take a look at each individual player coming into the San Diego organization.
Although the Padres did not get a first round pick in 2015, with the acquisition of the Marlins 2015 first round pick Josh Naylor (12th overall) it is like the team did in fact get that first round pick after all. A 19-year-old out of Canada, Naylor became the highest draft pick to ever come out of the Great White North.
It’s pretty clear the kind of player Naylor is. He’s a big first baseman with a potentially special bat, the ability for 30 home run power and not much else. Naylor has been rated a 20 runner on the 20-80 scale, and a 40 fielder. At the end of the day, Naylor will likely be nothing more than an offense first baseman, or even possibly a designated hitter. With the offensive potential Naylor has, that profile should be more than fine, as many first baseman profile in the same manner.
Naylor is already drawing comparisons to Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo, more because of the player they were both traded for rather than any actual skill set. Both are obviously big first basemen with a great deal of power,, but comparing past there becomes too murky. Naylor has the potential for a special bat, but saying he is going to be Anthony Rizzo may be going too far. The best thing Naylor has going for him is his fantastic hand eye coordination and the fact that there isn’t too much swing and miss in his game for a slugger his size. If he reaches full potential he could be a 30+ homer, middle of the lineup hitter for the Padres long-term. Wil Myers is obviously the Padres first baseman of the immediate future, but talent is talent so the Padres will cross that bridge when the get there (which could be helped if the National League adopts the designated hitter within the next several years).
The second prospect the Padres picked up in this blockbuster deal is flame throwing right hander Luis Castillo. If there is any trend to be found among Preller’s trade and draft acquisitions, it is Preller’s affinity for power arms. From draftees Cal Quantrill, Reggie Lawson, and Mason Thompson, to trade acquisitions, Chris Paddack, Anderson Espinoza, and recently acquired Hansel Rodriguez, Preller loves young, hard throwing, high upside pitchers. Luis Castillo fits right in among that group.
Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the San Francisco Giants in 2011, Castillo spent his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League before getting his first crack at full season ball in 2014 at age 21. Castillo was traded after the season to the Marlins as part of the package that netted the Giants Casey McGehee. After originally pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, Castillo has excelled since getting the chance to start with the Marlins. On the year, Castillo sports a 2.25 ERA in 100 innings pitched for the Marlins High-A Jupiter Hammerheads, striking out 84 batters while only walking 15.
As mentioned, Castillo is most known for his 70 grade fastball which consistently reaches the upper 90s and also can touch triple digits. Castillo also has a potential plus pitch in his slider while also sporting a changeup that could yield a similar grade when all is said and done. Castillo has obviously shown great strike throwing ability, which is critical to his success as a starter. While the obvious goal is to have Castillo stick in the rotation, his deadly fastball/slider combo could make him a dangerous reliever if he can’t stick as a starter long term. Either way, Castillo should make a lasting big league impact in the next few years.
While Naylor and Castillo were the obvious main pieces in this trade, Jarred Cosart is a pretty solid throw in for the Friars. Although only 26, Cosart has already bounced around to quite a few organizations in his young career. After being drafted by the Phillies in the 38th round in 2008, Cosart was traded to the Astros and then the Marlins before being traded to the Padres on Friday. After throwing just over 69 big league innings for the Marlins in 2015, with an ERA just over 4.50, Cosart has thrown only 19.2 big league innings in 2016, pitching to a 5.95 ERA in those innings. Cosart was impressive in big leagues stints in 2013 and 2014, but he has regressed a bit from his best form in those years.
Similarly to Erik Johnson in the James Shields trade, Cosart will likely just serve as an innings eater for the big league team during these next few rebuilding years. The Padres are hoping for some progression for Cosart, and possible trade value down the line, but for now Cosart will likely slot in to one of the two spots left by Cashner/Rea.
In terms of profile, Cosart once again fits the bill for what kind of player AJ Preller has been acquiring, as Cosart was known as a prospect for his plus-plus fastball. Beyond that, Cosart also has a strong curveball for a secondary offering but not much else to back it up. The biggest issue for Cosart over the course of his development has been his struggles with command, as evidenced by his 4.26 BB/9 in 2015 and his 4.44 BB/9 in Triple-A this year. Cosart has lost a lot of the prospect luster he had years ago, but he is still young enough to possibly blossom with a change of scenery.
After the trade had been announced as a two for three swap, and the deal seemed official, news came out that RHP Carter Capps would also be included in the deal, with RHP Tayron Guerrero also being added into the deal on the Padres end. While the first three guys the Padres received in the deal are all interesting in their own right, Capps may be the most intriguing of all and, perhaps the most valuable as well.
After an impressive first run through the big leagues in 2014, in which he accumulated a 3.96 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 20.1 innings pitched, Capps came into his own as one of the best relievers in baseball in 2015. In 31 stellar innings, Capps gave up only five runs while striking out 58 and walking only seven. His 1.16 ERA and 16.84 K/9 were among the best in all of baseball. However, right before the start of the 2016 season, Capps was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Capps underwent tommy john surgery in March and will be out until at least around the same time next year.
Despite his dominance, Capps doesn’t come without his question marks. While his recovery from Tommy John will be absolutely critical, his awkward pitching mechanics could end up being a bigger problem later on. With such a weird delivery, the injury risk is certainly elevated, especially now that the right hander has a tommy john under his belt. Regardless, the upside is clearly huge, as Capps was establishing himself as one of the top relievers in all of baseball. Capps gets two more chances at arbitration in 2017 and 2018 before he hits the open market following the 2018 season. With the price of relievers, as evidenced by the recent trades of Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman, and the prices tags that come with others such as Andrew Miller and Mark Melancon, it is clear the Padres could cash in big on Capps once he proves he is healthy next season.
All in all, the Padres not only got two potential future big league contributors, but also a player they can slot into the rotation right away, as well as an elite closer who will return next season and either be a dominant force in the Padres bullpen, or more likely, a huge trade chip to be cashed in. The loss of both Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea is tough, as well as the future potential of Tayron Guerrero, but the Padres and A.J. Preller took advantage of a weak pitching market and hit a home run with this trade. With the four players they got, the Padres got two long-term pieces to add to an already deep farm system, a quality major league arm to slot into the rotation right now, and a wild card reliever who could be the biggest trade chip in baseball in a years time. After making quite a few mistakes in the big 2014-2015 offseason, A.J. Preller has exercised nearly all his demons with great trade after great trade. Only time will tell how this will all work out, but things look truly bright in San Diego for the first time in a while.