The month of December in the year 2014 will go down as one of the most active in San Diego Padres team history. The team went on to make eight different transactions in that month in an attempt to improve the mostly stale Padres team. The addition of relevant players was a sign to fans that the ownership had indeed finally committed to fielding a competitive team.
For much of the past 10 years the Padres have been more about saving pennies than spending money on their players. Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy were both shipped out-of-town because the team refused to pay them fair market value. The teams philosophy has changed regarding players pay, and with that the team has increased its payroll to an all time high.
However spending the money doesn’t necessarily produce wins and the Padres have learned this cold hard fact. The team will finish with a worse record than last years team and that in itself is a shame for a team that had such high hopes. The inconsistencies of this team have doomed them and there needs to be changes in some degree to the makeup of the team. The changes are not going to be easy as this team has many issues that need to be resolved. Padres ownership has their work cut out for them in evaluating the team and moving forward.
This article will review all 11 major off-season trades/free agent signings, and utilize an old fashion grade scale of A through F. The grade will be given based on how well the trade benefited the Padres. There were many young players dealt so naturally they can sway the trade either way.
The true idea of whether a trade helped a team or not will not be completely known for years, but In good fun we will review the trades as of now. It all started rather quietly with a usual Padres free agent pickup. Who would have known this minor free agent signing would be the first of eight in the month of December.
The Padres team is now motivated to compete and with this new found motivation they are learning a very hard lesson. Baseball is not an exact science. You can add a team full of legit players, but their addition alone does not translate to victories on the standings page. Look at the Dodgers, they have been throwing money at their problems for years. Their payroll is over $310 million dollars and they are no guarantee to advance in the National League playoffs.
Free Agent Clint Barmes signed to 1 year-$1.3 million with $2 million 2016 option or 200k buyout
The Padres had an obvious need at shortstop at the time and the team rolled the dice on veteran infielder Clint Barmes. He was viewed as a proven veteran who could help in the locker room with his work ethic an attitude. Barmes responded by playing pretty well for the team. He is hitting .245 with three homers and 16 RBI on 93 games. His addition was not the best addition for the team, but he proved useful for the Padres. He will likely not be brought back so the team will be on the hook for 200k to buy his contract out.
For a long time there were rumors about a Matt Kemp to the Padres deal and it finally came to fruition on December 18th. The Padres were in need of a superstar and they got one in Matt Kemp. The team was very high on Kemp after he had a fantastic second half of the 2014 season He finally looked healthy after battling knee, shoulder and ankle injuries. Kemp started the 2015 season decently but faded fast for a few months. Right when Padres fans were beginning to question if the team got ripped off by the Dodger, Kemp exploded.
The Padres first team cycle in the history of the franchise will always endear him to the fans. His impressive second half offensive numbers have boosted him to a very decent year. in 147 games so far Kemp is hitting .265 with 23 home runs and 98 RBI’s. He has also stole 11 bases and scored 77 runs. His 2015 season started roughly, but he has produced some very nice numbers. Tim Fedrowicz was hurt in spring training and then was released after completing rehab. The team decided to stick with Austin Hedges as Norris backup catcher.
The Padres dealt Yasmani Grandal to the Dodgers and immediately Grandal caught fire. He made the 2014 All-Star game and the trade looked horrendous at one point. Grandal has since cooled and was in a horrible slump in early September. His overall numbers are decent as he is hitting .249 with 16 homers and 47 RBI in 107 games. At 26, Grandal could be a thorn in the Padres side for years to come.
The Dodgers also received Zah Eflin who they immediately flipped to the Phillies for Jimmy Rollins. Joe Wieland was also dealt in the Kemp deal and he even started two games for the Dodgers earlier this year. Eflin at 21 went 8-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Phillies AA team. Wieland was roughed up in his two major league starts to a tune of a 8.31 ERA. He did go 10-5 in AAA with a 4.59 ERA in 113.2 innings.
This a tough one to grade. At times this year it looked like a big fat F, but Kemp has turned it on and justified the deal a bit. The Padres had a need for a superstar, but with his age and defensive questions, this deal could turn really bad for the Padres eventually.
On the same day as the Kemp deal, the Padres acquired their catcher of the future. Derek Norris, a 2014 All-Star was known as a great offensive catcher. He brought more of an offensive punch to the position for the team. The Padres needed to improve their offense, but Norris had defensive question marks.
In the 2014 American League Playoffs, the Kansas City Royals ran wild all over Derek Norris and the Oakland A’s. Norris had a hard time throwing out baserunners, and that seemed to be a huge question mark heading into the 2015 season. Norris responded this season by throwing out a whopping 40 of 118 potential base runners. That is at a 34 percent rate which is way above the league average of 28%. Norris has however allowed a league high 12 passed balls. Offensively Norris is hitting .245 with 13 homers and 59 RBI’s in 135 games. Norris has taken a beating all year-long and is an absolute warrior behind the plate.
Seth Streich was injured during the 2015 season but at 24 has a decent upside as a relief pitcher. Speaking of injuries. Oft injured Jesse Hahn once again hurt his throwing arm. The curveball pitcher has always had arm troubles but managed a very decent half season for the A’s. Hahn went 6-6 in 16 starts with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.169 WHIP. He went down in July with a strained right forearm and is not scheduled to make it back this year.
R.J. Alvarez looked very good for the Padres in a September 2014 call up. He made the A’s out of spring training but was rocked by Major League pitching in early April. He has a 10.47 ERA and a 1.959 WHIP in 18 games. He was sent down in April and went 3-3 with a 4.11 ERA in 35 AAA innings. This deal looks to be a very positive one for the Padres.
Joe Ross and Trea Turner to the Washington Nationals, Rene Rivera, Jake Bauers, and Burch Smith + Steve Souza (from Was) to Tampa Bay Rays, Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan, Jose Castillo, Gerardo Reyes to San Diego Padres
In a crazy three team deal the Padres acquired the former American League rookie of the year Wil Myers. He had a history of injury trouble, but at the age of 24 his upside was limitless. Myers once again hurt himself and missed more than three months of the season. While he was in there however, he played very well for the team. In 50 games for the Padres Myers is hitting .272 with eight homers and 27 RBI’s. He has shown great flexibility playing first base, center field and both corner outfield spots. As always his health will dictate if this is a good deal or not for the Padres.
The Padres immediately turned around and deal Ryan Hanigan the next day. Gerardo Reyes is a 22-year-old right handed pitcher who missed the entire 2015 season. Jose Castillo is a very nice left-handed prospect. The 19-year-old has good size and went 4-2 this season with 4,54 ERA in low A-Ball this season (Ft. Wayne and Tri-City). He could eventually become a relevant piece in the Padres future plans.
We all know about Joe Ross and Trea Turner. The Nationals look to be the big winners in the three-way trade immediately. Ross bloomed even more this season and made his Major League debut for the Nationals. He has gone 5-5 this year in the Majors with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.115 WHIP. Turner also made his Major League debut but has had only 15 at bats with the Nationals. Turner did hit .322 this season in the minors with eight homers and 54 RBI while stealing 29 bases. The Nationals got two really good young players in this deal.
The Rays, who gave up Myers got little in return from the Padres as the coveted Steven Souza from the Nationals. They got their man in Souza but also landed Rene Rivera to be their catcher. Rivera has had a horrible season this year for the Rays. He is hitting .180 with five homers and 26 RBI’s in 107 games. He has produced a -2.0 WAR this season and has struck out 84 times. Burch Smith under went Tommy John surgery and is out for the year. Jake Bauers is a 19-year-old first baseman who hit .272 with 11 homers and 74 RBI’s in 128 games for the Rays low A ball team. He has developing power and scout say he could eventually be a Major Leaguer.
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