Now that the off-season is officially upon us, it is time to review some possible trade chips for the San Diego Padres as they try to jumpstart a dormant franchise. The team has depth, and with that, comes a probability of a trade in the near future.
2018 is over. Finally. In a long rebuild process, the future is finally starting to become the present as the Padres are projected to be “contending” very soon.
This offseason should tell us just how soon we should expect a playoff-caliber product on the field.
In part one of this two-part article, I will examine the possible pieces Padres’ general manager A.J. Preller could part with on the major league roster. Part two will consist of the minor league prospects who could be traded and should be out soon.
It could happen:
Hunter Renfroe — By now, we know the outfield is an absolute logjam, with five or six guys competing for three or four spots in 2019. Something has to give. And there’s no doubt the Padres are in full evaluation mode of the current surplus, analyzing the future potential of every guy. There’s going to be some risk-taking in the trade operation and the team will have to part ways with talented assets. One guy who has shown enough promise to be a starter in MLB but lacked consistency since coming up, is Renfroe. There’s no question the second half of his season has been exciting, and a refreshing change from most of his career. However, the Padres should trade him now when his value is what I believe to be at its highest. While Renfroe is a good piece, he’s not a championship-caliber player and the team is better off packaging him with minor league prospect(s) for some quality major league talent.
Travis Jankowski — Another piece in the outfield puzzle is Fast Freddy. While Jank has the ability to steal 40+ bases in a full-time starter role, his bat isn’t serviceable to be in the everyday lineup. He’s best suited as a 4th outfielder and I definitely see the Padres hanging onto him in that role if they trade Manuel Margot. But the Padres (as we see it) are committed to Manny as the center fielder of the future and that’s why Jankowski is a hot name to get dealt this winter.
Austin Hedges — Ahhh, the tale of the crowded catcher. Hedges’ job security status was placed on high alert when the top catching prospect in the league, Francisco Mejia, was acquired in the Brad Hand deal. Since then, he’s played like a guy who doesn’t want to lose his job anytime soon. This has to be the hardest decision in the organization. There are two options: keep both guys or trade Hedges. I’m on team “play one guy” against a tandem at the position, and that’s why I would like to see Hedges get traded this offseason. The league knows he’s a top defensive catcher and has a strong ability to manage a pitching staff. The bat, however, has lacked. We would all love a Padres lineup where everyone can hit, 1-9. So along with an outfielder, I believe Hedges is on his way out and Mejia will be the catcher of the future.
Cory Spangenberg — Lost in all of this is super utility man Cory Spangenberg. Spangy will never be an everyday starter on a contending team. But he can play pretty much anywhere on the diamond with above average speed, which translates to some decent value. The Padres could hold onto him with his diverse skill set, but there’s no doubt that many teams could use his repertoire. Preller will surely look to ship him this offseason with the middle of the infield locked up for the foreseeable future.
Robbie Erlin — Longtime Padre Robbie Erlin looks misplaced in a rotation that should have no room for him. While I could see him coming out of the pen and doing a solid job, many teams should see Erlin as a project starting pitcher. Don’t be surprised to see Robbie’s name in a trade package.
Wil Myers — Myers has been quite a story since coming over in the Trea Turner deal. While missing considerable game time due to injury-plagued seasons, he’s shown flashes of brilliance. He’s also played just about everywhere in the field as the Padres have made it apparent they don’t really mind how it’s done, as long as his bat is in the lineup. The question with Myers is if his bat is good enough to warrant that type of treatment. He’s yet to play a full season since being in a Padre uniform, which is troublesome with his five-year extension. With an already crowded outfield and players looking on in the minor league, Hosmer locked up at first, do the Padres bite the bullet with his defense and play him at third base or do they stick him in a corner outfield spot and deal with the outfield surplus as a separate issue? Or do they trade him? It’s an interesting spot as his value could either plummet heavily or rise significantly this coming season. Do the Padres believe in him enough or do they get substantial talent back while they can? I don’t see them giving up on Wil and that’s why we see him in a Padres uniform next season. However, I know I’m not alone in saying that I wouldn’t mind having Wil on another team based on effort, attitude, and injuries.
Kirby Yates — If there’s been any glimmer of excitement in the organization throughout our 12-year playoff drought, it’s at the closer position. The Padres produce elite closers at the highest rate of any major league organization. Yates is no exception as he has turned into a fine back-end pitcher. The Padres have seriously always been lucky with their bullpen, particularly at the closer position. That trend doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon with a plethora of excellent bullpen pieces in the major and minor league system. Yates has legitimate closer talent and teams will surely be calling about him just as they were at the deadline. If he’s around, he’s a lock to be the guy for the 2019 season. But with so many other options, he could be deemed expendable by Preller for other major league needs.
Manuel Margot — Margot was supposed to be the guy — the longtime anchor in center field. But the bat just hasn’t come alive. It’s been two full seasons and it’s probably time to worry about Manny. It doesn’t matter how good the defense is if the bat doesn’t produce. The Pads really like Franchy, and have Franmil with Renfroe in the current picture (while Wil’s best spot is back in the outfield). It’s just too crowded. If Jankowski doesn’t go, Margot will. If Margot doesn’t go, Jankowksi will.
Players that could net something but won’t be on the roster either way:
Jose Pirela — Pirela is so average. There’s been a ton of uproar about his presence in the lineup this year, and rightfully so. He won’t be on the team next year, but maybe Preller could squeeze something from another team who sees a place on their bench for Pirela.
Carlos Asuaje — Asuaje was supposed to be involved in the second base duties for most of 2018. He disappointed greatly. There doesn’t look to be a place on the roster for him, and similar to Pirela, could net minimal value.
Look for part two, coming soon, where I will take a look at some possible minor league trade chips.