With the trade deadline approaching, the San Diego Padres are in a fantastic position. With the club enduring a full-blown rebuild, general manager A.J. Preller and the Padres’ front office will clearly be looking to sell.
With that being said, the Padres possess one of the most coveted assets of this years trade deadline in the form of 27-year-old left-handed pitcher Brad Hand. The all-star reliever has been one of the best relievers thus far, posting a baffling 2.00 ERA to go along with a 0.96 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 54 innings. Hand has also shown an ability to close games out, converting all six of his save opportunities so far. Not only is Hand a phenomenal pitcher, he is also under team control for two more seasons and is just entering his prime years.
With almost half of the league interested in the Padres southpaw, the Washington National should be all-in on potentially acquiring Brad Hand. The Nationals have one of the best lineups in baseball, as well as a phenomenal pitching staff, but their bullpen has been horrendous this season. With the Washington relievers posting a 5.17 ERA in 2017, Hand can come in and make an immediate impact at the back-end of the bullpen. The Nationals are in win now mode and must acquire a bullpen piece to really make a deep run in October.
With that being said, the asking price for Brad Hand has been set pretty high from the beginning of these speculations. A.J. Preller is simply not going to give away a player of Hand’s caliber unless he obtains a big return. Fortunately for the Nationals, they surely have the prospects to go out and acquire Hand if they choose to.
While Preller will surely ask about Victor Robles, it is highly unlikely that Hand will net a return that big or that the Nationals would even want to part with a player as talented as Robles. With that being said, Carter Kieboom is an exciting, young prospect the Padres should look at acquiring. Kieboom is the number four prospect in the Nationals talented farm system and plays a position of dire need for the Padres. Shortstop. Kieboom barrels up baseballs extremely well as scouts project him to being an above-average hitter. His range and arm are above average and he projects to be a shortstop long-term.
Another prospect that the Padres should definitely scout is 2017 first round draft pick Seth Romero. Romero played college baseball at the University of Houston and was one of the best pitchers in all of college baseball. Romero did battle some off the field issues at Houston ranging from getting suspended for drug use to having an altercation with a teammate. That didn’t stop the Nationals from taking the left hander in the first round of this season’s draft. That just shows his potential.
All the off field issues aside, he has been absolutely phenomenal on a baseball diamond. Romero is a hard throwing southpaw that sits around 92-95 mph, but has reached 97 multiple times. His “out” pitch was his absolutely filthy slider that allowed Romero to lead the nation with 15.72 strikeouts-per-nine in the college ranks. Adding prime pitching talent is something the Padres should ever stop doing and Romero is an electrifying prospects that projects to be a solid pitcher.
If you know anything about Padres GM A.J. Preller, you know that he surely will get the highest return possible for a player of Brad Hand’s caliber. Packaging Kieboom/Romero with another prospect is something Preller is certainly going to try to achieve. Right handed pitchers Brigham Hill or Kyle Johnston could both be excellent players to add into a deal with Kieboom or Romero. Hill was the ace on a Texas A&M ball club that played deep into the NCAA playoffs. Hill possesses a 89-91 mph fastball that tops out at 94, but has great control of his fastball. His excellent fastball command sets up one of the best change ups in college baseball last season and has an average third pitch in his curveball. Hill needs some time to progress and stay healthy, but he surely has the stuff to be a serviceable big league starter.
The Nationals number 24 overall prospect Kyle Johnston is another interesting player to look at. Johnston is a hard throwing 21-year-old reliever whose fastball reaches 96 mph and has a cutter with a sharp slide to it. Johnston is also working on a change up which most scouts believe can become an above average pitch if it is used more often. Johnston has been a starting pitcher thus far, but scouts project him to be a bullpen guy in the future.
With Brad Hand almost seemingly on his way out the door, it is important that the Padres get a great return for the all-star reliever. Packaging Kieboom or Romero with Hill or Johnston would be a serviceable return for Brad Hand. Padres GM A.J. Preller will surely go out and make a move based on what he believes is the right thing to do and calling the Nationals’ front office and remaining in communication is something they should surely do.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.