With all the moves the San Diego Padres made this past off-season, one in particular is standing out as a great deal for the team. With the additions to the outfield, Seth Smith was deemed expendable by the team. Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers were acquired by the Padres and with their additions, playing time for Smith was going to be non-existent. Just a reality of the game, that sometimes plans change for a Major League franchise in a drop of a hat. With A.J. Prellers’ arrival in town, things certainly did change.
Seth Smith was the Padres offensive MVP last season. While other Padres players were just giving away at bats, he was consistently putting in a quality at bats. Smith does have a weakness as he is useless against left-handed pitchers. The Padres needed bullpen and pitching help in general, so a deal was reached in which the Padres would attain Brandon Maurer for Seth Smith straight up from the Seattle Mariners.
Maurer had been targeted by Padres management for the past few seasons. When the Padres dealt Chris Denorfia late last season to the Mariners, it was reported the Padres asked for Maurer. The Mariners flat-out refused and the two teams agreed to a deal in which the Padres received Abraham Almonte for Chris Denorfia. A couple of months later the Padres landed their man when the team agreed to move Maurer.
Brandon Maurer has a very bright future in the Major Leagues. Most fans were completely shocked when Maurer was left off the 25-man roster to start the season. It did not take long for Maurer to be called back up to the Padres, and once the team did, Maurer has not given them any excuse to demote him. Posting a 1.73 ERA in 39 games for the Padres. He currently leads the team in appearances. His WHIP is an amazing 0.792 as Maurer has just attacked hitters consistently with his pitches. The team does need to be a little more cautious with this young pitcher. He has already thrown a lot this year out of the bullpen.
The aura that Maurer displays on the mound is very reminiscent of a closing pitcher or an ace pitcher. He goes right after hitters with his fastball and is unafraid to throw strikes and be aggressive. Those type of qualities are always preached, but rarely seen at the Major League level. The game is very mental and if a pitcher can conquer the mental side, then his upside is limitless. Brandon Maurer clearly has an idea of what he is doing out on the mound when called on.
To remain calm when the game is on the line is something that cannot be taught. The intangibles that are needed to be successful in the Major Leagues are very evident when you watch Brandon Maurer take the mound. He has a tremendous upside, it is really a question if the team will utilize him as a starting pitcher or let him continue to pitch out of the bullpen. Maurer clearly has the ability to do either. This season he will probably be used exclusively out of the bullpen. His arm would need to be stretched out before he could become a starter again. Add the fact he has already thrown a lot out of the bullpen so far this season, and the Padres will surely take it easy on the 25-year-old pitcher. He has a very bright future, no need to rush.
Brandon Maurer has enough in his repertoire to easily transition into a starting pitcher in the big leagues. He has already made 21 starts in the Major Leagues. All those starts were with Seattle in 2013 and 2014. Maurer did not perform well in those limited starts, but he was 22 and 23 years old at the time. He has easily grown from those experiences. His future could be in the rotation. With Craig Kimbrel signed for the next few seasons, the Padres really do not have a need for a closer. Don’t be surprised if Maurer is in the rotation before too long.
Either way the addition of Maurer has turned out to be the best acquisition of his flurry of trades. One could argue that obtaining Will Middlebrooks for Ryan Hanigan was a better trade. Hannigan was due to make a whopping $7.2 million for the next two seasons with a $800k buyout for the 2017 season. Compare that to Middlebrooks salary of $540k for this season and the Padres saved almost $7.5 million dollars long-term. Great trade by Preller, that really gets no press. Middlebrooks could still prove to be a useful Major League third baseman. The jury is still out on him, all though he needs to make an impression relatively fast or he will be deemed a bust. The harsh life of a Major League prospect.
In the long run, fans see Maurer as a very valuable part of the Padres Major League team. He has the intangibles that baseball minds speak of when scouting a team. There is just something about the way he carries himself that exudes Major League All-Star. One day Maurer will represent the team in the July celebration of the best MLB players. You can just feel that about the man.