Red Sox Will Struggle to Meet Price for Padres’ Kirby Yates

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

‘Tis the season for trade rumors and the Padres are in the thick of things once again.

According to Jon Morosi, the Boston Red Sox have expressed interest in Padres All-Star closer Kirby Yates. Yates is having an other-worldly season with a 1.05 ERA, and a ridiculous 403 ERA+ with 31 saves thus far, easily the most impressive closer on the market this year.

What would it take for the Padres to part with their stud closer? Do the Red Sox have enough firepower to put the best offer on the table? FanGraphs ranks the Red Sox’s farm system as the worst in baseball, so if there is a trade to be had here, it likely will not come via the minor leagues.

The Padres are interested in acquiring MLB-ready talent at this point. The organization has evolved past needing teenage studs to stock the lower levels of their farm system. San Diego’s window opens next season, and they will likely demand a return for Yates that nets pieces to add to the current big league roster.

If the Red Sox want Yates, that means they still see themselves as contenders. Thus they likely will not be willing to deal many pieces from their current big league roster.

Of course, players like Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez are off the table, all of which have at least one more year of control and Boston rarely takes long to reload. With a weak farm system and premier players like the ones listed, Boston seems to be caught in the middle in being able to afford Yates. Either they overpay, sending an All-Star level player to San Diego in return for Yates or they attempt to send prospects, which to the Padres and their stacked farm system, maybe like trying to sell a used Honda to an owner of a Rolls-Royce.

The most pressing need for the Padres in the farm system is a bona fide center fielder. They have a surplus of corner outfielders who can hit well, but after Manuel Margot, the organization lacks a true centerfielder. The jury is still out on Margot, who, ironically, the Padres acquired from Boston for Craig Kimbrel.

The Red Sox’s best center field prospect is Jarren Duran, who ranks as their ninth-best prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline. He has played center field all season for both High-A and Double-A. His bat has not yet found a groove since his promotion to Double-A, batting .213 with a .535 OPS in 42 games after having a .998 OPS in High-A. He has the athletic tools to be a solid center fielder, but as one of the best prospects in Boston’s already thin system, their willingness to part with him maybe nonexistent.

After Duran, there is not a true centerfield prospect the Red Sox have to offer worth the Padres’ time.

Right-handed starting pitcher Bryan Mata also might be a target as a nearly-major league ready starting pitcher. He is currently Boston’s seventh-ranked prospect and has a 3.26 FIP in Double-A Portland. He has a mid-to-high 90s fastball that sinks with a plus changeup and a curveball that is a work in progress. He could be ready for the big leagues sometime next year.

Credit: AP Photo

Again, the Padres likely will be more interested in either big league-ready prospects or current members of the Red Sox’s active roster, mainly looking at pitching and outfield. The Red Sox do not have much to offer in their farm system and may be too attached to their big stars that helped them get a World Series title last season.

Andrew Benintendi is a player the Padres may covet on their big league roster, and rightfully so. Boston would scoff at a straight Yates-for-Benintendi swap, and San Diego would have to sweeten the deal. Benintendi has three years of control after this year and is just 25 and is already an established presence in the big leagues. He posted a 3.9 WAR last season, hitting .290 with a .830 OPS while also posting 4 Defensive Runs Saved in left field. This year, his bat has not been as potent (.261 AVG, .759 OPS) but he is still playing solid outfield defense.

He has mainly played left field, so once again, the Padres would not be acquiring a true center fielder, but he has played 64 games in center field for Boston with acceptable results.

To acquire a player like the 2017 A.L. Rookie of the Year runner-up, the Padres would have to throw in a prospect or two to nourish the destitute farm system in Boston. The Red Sox would probably ask the Padres for one of their heralded pitching prospects such as Michel Baez or Adrian Morejon to be thrown into the deal. Thus getting an All-Star closer to have at their disposal through the end of the 2020 season and an exciting, hard-throwing, touted pitching prospect.

In the end, it sounds like a deal with Boston is unlikely. They do not have the prospect firepower nor the major league pieces for which the Padres would spend prospects in addition to Yates. There are many other suitors that present a more favorable outcome for San Diego and Yates.

3 thoughts on “Red Sox Will Struggle to Meet Price for Padres’ Kirby Yates

  1. IMHO, now is the right time to package Yates with the Myers contract and solve the outfield problem. I wouldn’t trade Renfroe as he is clearly a long term power asset (albeit average defense, but OK in right field) nor Reyes (unless you get a major return from an American League team or the NL adopts the designated hitter – not going to happen . . . .)

    But, I believe that the two biggest problems the Padres have are the Myers contract and young pitching (which will get better on its own with or without reinforcements – recall Richards and Lamet will be important next year).

    The catcher and centerfield concerns are real, but may improve on their own or may require some changes, but I think it is time to resolve problem #1 – the Wil Myers contract!

    Of course, contending in 2020 and having Yates as your closer makes sense. (There are no other options on the roster or in the upper minors right now that you can feel confident would be a lights out (or even above average) closer in 2020 except Yates.) So, I understand and expect that in 2020 the replacement closer for Yates will be doing great if they can close out 80% of their save opportunities versus 94% with Yates this year – (but even for Yates more realistically around 90% next year.)

    But, unless you find a solution for the outfield logjam (essentially wasting some many at bats plus a valuable roster spot with Myers (Strikeout King) when you really need Jankowski (defense and speed); or even better – a true top 10 centerfielder.), then you won’t need Yates anyways.

    The reality is the competitive division title window may be opening in 2020, but the most realistic contention period is 2022-2024.

    So, as much as Yates is one of the top 5 closers in the game, he is likely the only way that the Padres can unload Myers and also get a decent player in return. (Yes, they will eat much of his salary too.) The catcher situation will probably be sorted out by 2021 and Gore and Patino (and other dark horse pitchers in the very deep system) will not be ready to carry their full share of a starters load till 2021 or 2022 anyways.

    So, while I would love to personally attend my 3rd Padres World Series in the next 2 years, I think that refusing to begin making the necessary moves now (if the value of Yates is optimal) or certainly in the offseason is a weak option. (Myers should have been traded/given to Seattle last year!)

    While everyone has their own perspective, here is my list: 1) get rid of Myers and his horrible contract; 2) get a top 20 centerfielder (and maybe have Margot be in the Jankowski role); 3) sign a true Number 1 starter – Gerrit Cole (or similar) or add a Thor or Bauer or ? by trade; and 4) with time hopefully the catching situation will solve itself (i.e. Hedges finally hits, or Mejia can call a game even half as well as Hedges).
    After 7/31, the balance of this season needs to be spent with the rule 5 draft as the next upcoming important date in mind. Who are the keepers that earn that 40-person roster spot? Who are the near-miss players (but likely much higher ranked in weaker minor league systems of other teams) that can be dealt in 2, 3, or even 4 for 1 deals to generate 1 or 2 difference makers on the league title contending team in 2022?

    “Let the kids play” in August and September and you will also likely get another top 10 draft pick. I would bring in Gore and Patino and several of the other Amarillo or even Lake Elsinore prospects (some top upside position players, but especially pitchers) and see how far off they are and give them that exposure to get rid of the butterflies now, plus motivate them to get back her next year. Heck, CJ Abrams would be fun to watch.

    Last year, AJ did a pretty good job of getting something for those players that were Rule 5 eligible, but they were mostly 1 for 1 deals for AAAA players and/or younger intriguing prospects with potential, but at least he bought some time.

    Easier said than done, but ideally you can take 3 or 4 of these Rule 5 bubble players this fall and package them for one top player. Teams like the Red Sox, or other teams with a depleted minor league system could be interested. Remember that with Rule 5 it is use ’em or lose ’em.

  2. The Padres need to avoid dealing with teams that have weak farm systems. The ideal fit would be with the Braves or Rays. Craig Stammen would be a more realistic option for the Red Sox.

  3. Pass on Benintendi, Renfroe’s having a better year, and a guy with -3.3 WAR on defense is not going to make a good CF.

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