Padres News: Reviewing the Mat Latos Trade

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

More than three years ago on December 17th, 2011 Mat Latos was traded from the San Diego Padres to the Cincinnati Reds. The trade absolutely came out of nowhere, and blindsided most Padres fans. Most fans immediately cried foul, but the trade was an offer the Padres couldn’t refuse. Latos was coming off a year in 2011 where he was 9-14 with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.184 WHIP. At the age of 23, Mat Latos was widely considered the ace of the staff.

I have to admit at first I was wondering what the Padres were doing. I owned two different Latos jerseys, which I thought were a safe purchase. He was a great young talent and was under contract for the next three seasons. Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger are who the Padres got in return for Mat Latos. Those four would make the deal well worth the loss of Latos.

I was very aware of Edinson Volquez and his ability. I knew he had fallen out of favor with manager Dusty Baker. However, I still remembered his 2008 season where Volquez was 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA in his first year in Cincinnati. He had regressed since then, but still had upside. Latos was obviously better, but Volquez wasn’t a horrible option to plug into Latos spot in the rotation. The deal wasn’t consummated for Volquez though, the Padres coveted the young first baseman and catcher the Reds offered.

Yonder Alonso was considered a solid option at first base. At the age of 24 in the 2011 season, Alonso slugged five home runs and hit .330 in 88 at bats. He was tried in the outfield by the Reds, but that was not an option. With Joey Votto locked into the Reds first base position for years to come, Alonso was deemed expendable.The Padres must have been drooling at those numbers Alonso showed in just 88 at bats. How could they foresee Alonso only hitting 23 home runs as a Padre in 1,230 at bats thus far. Yonder Alonso has been serviceable when he has been able to play, but honestly he has disappointed most Padres fans.

In a pinnacle power position like first base, the team needs a constant everyday run producer. Alonso is sure to be on a short leash this season. He started out well with a .333 average, but a shoulder injury has sidelined him recently. He might be on the way to a solid year for the Padres.

The addition of Yasmani Grandal to the deal was probably the deciding factor. The Reds had Grandal and Devin Mesoraco in their minor league system. Both were high picks and very highly touted prospects. The problem was both catchers were roughly the same age and due to arrive in the majors at the same time. Again the Reds were forced to make a deal, and the Padres must have been ecstatic. Grandal went on to hit .245 as a Padre in his career with 24 home runs and 94 RBI’s. He was a key factor in the trade that brought Matt Kemp over from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yasmani Grandal looks to be a solid offensive catcher, but his defense is something he needs to work on. The verdict is still out on this switch hitting catcher.

To this point the Padres have already won the trade in my mind, but Brad Boxberger was also included in the deal. Boxberger was the Reds former #1 pick in 2009. I had never heard of him at the time, but after doing some research, I was dumbfounded he was included in the deal. He had amazing numbers in the minor leagues. A 2.63 ERA in 2011, with 115 strike outs in 77 innings for the Reds double-A and triple-A teams. He was an absolute stud, and at the age of 23 was listed as a possible closer of the future.

Mandatory Credit: TheFLPost
Mandatory Credit: TheFLPost

Flash forward to 2015 season and Brad Boxberger has started the season as a major league closer. He has 13 saves and a 2.95 ERA so far in 2015. Boxberger was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on January 22, 2014 with Matt Andriese, Matt Lollis, Maxx Tissenbaum and Logan Forsythe for Jesse Hahn and Alex Torres. With the injury to Jake McGee, the Rays are to open the season with Boxberger as their closer. He had an excellent year for the Rays last season going 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA and an outstanding 0.835 WHIP. He also struck out 104 batters in only 64 innings pitched. He might very well be the best player dealt in that seven player trade when it is all said and done. His numbers thus far are simply incredible.

The trade was a success for the San Diego Padres. It was an offer that the team just couldn’t walk away from. The Padres had no intentions of dealing their young ace, but if you get an offer like that, you take it. Plain and simple. At the time I thought that, and it turned out to be that way. The Cincinnati Reds were enamored with the Padres young right-handed pitcher, and they paid the price for his services.

The numbers behind the trade show that Volquez himself, almost equaled what the Reds got out of Mat Latos. In his three seasons in Cincinnati, Latos was 33-16 in 72 games with 522 innings pitched. In those same three years, including last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Volquez was 33-27 in 95 starts and 555 innings. The numbers just slightly tilt in Latos favor. Mat Latos ERA and WHIP over those three seasons is easily better, but wins and innings are a great measurement of worth too.

You never really know if a deal is going to be a good one or not. In most cases the true winner of the deal isn’t known for years and years. This deal is an obvious victory for the San Diego Padres and might go down as one of the best trades in franchise history. All four players the Padres received in the deal, are more than likely going to have extensive major league careers. In a four for one deal, you can’t ask for anything better. If Yonder Alonso can take his game to the next level, then this deal will tilt even more in the Padres favor.

Mat Latos was dealt by the Reds this off-season in his last year before free agency. The Reds traded him to the rebuilding Miami Marlins for some prospects. The arrival of Yonder Alonso in the Mat Latos trade gave the Padres a major league ready first baseman. The Padres had Anthony Rizzo in triple-A, and he even had a brief appearance in 2011 for the Friars. Yonder Alonso made Anthony Rizzo expendable and a trade was made with the Chicago Cubs for Andrew Cashner. That trade will also be reviewed by EVT, Look for it soon.

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