The Padres’ Habit of Trading Closers Mid-Season
Brad Hand is gone. He has been sent to Cleveland and once again the Padres need a mid-season replacement for their closer. The Padres, and their fans, are certainly used to this situation. This marks the fourth time in five years the Padres have traded their closers in the middle of the season.
In 2017, before Hand emerged as one of the best closers in the game, he was one of the best setup men and Brandon Maurer was the guy in the ninth, until he was dealt to Kansas City.
2016 yielded similar results, with Fernando Rodney being sent to the Marlins after 17 saves and a 0.31 ERA with the Friars.
Huston Street was the Padres closer from 2012 until the middle of 2014, after making two all-star teams with San Diego.
In these three trades, the players acquired the likes of Esteury Ruiz, Matt Strahm and Chris Paddack. Now add the best catching prospect in baseball, Francisco Mejia, to that list of top Padres prospects acquired by trading their closer mid-season. This is not even counting the haul of Logan Allen, Carlos Asuaje, Javier Guerra and Manuel Margot the Padres received for Craig Kimbrel after the 2015 season.
Give A.J. Preller credit, most of the time closers do not yield the best prospects but time after time, Preller has been able to make it happen.
Now let’s dive into how their replacements fared. Some of these closers on this list replaced the one before. Kimbrel was acquired right before the 2015 season started. Joaquin Benoit took over closing duties in 2014 after Street’s departure.
After Rodney was shipped off in 2016, Maurer took over. He ended up saving 13 games that season and then 20 in 2017 before being sent to the Royals. The Padres sent him off at the right time. Maurer was never dominant like Hand or Kimbrel but he was just good enough to get a decent haul.
After Maurer left, of course Hand blossomed into what he is today. He actually never was the closer for a full season from start to finish with the Padres, taking over duties in July of last year and now is in Cleveland. Hand ended up saving 46 games in parts of three seasons with the Padres.
Now we have come to this year’s version. With Hand out, it looks as if Kirby Yates will be taking over closing duties. He has certainly earned it, with a 1.43 ERA and 2.06 FIP this season. He might not be in the Padres’ long term plans, as he is 31 years old, but for now he will do and probably do just fine.
Who knows? Yates may be shipped off after just a few games as closer as there are still eight days before the deadline and he has drawn interest from multiple bullpen-starved teams.
What we can count on is the Padres finding a replacement for him as well. They always do.
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.
You start with nothing and two years later they’re good. And then after graduating Balsely University they become another teams closer. And we get 2-3 top 100 talent or one top 10.
#Stay the Course Padres
Hmmm. Or in other words, SD has had a Good bullpen for the last 20 years…….. or How long has D-balls been the p. coach?
Your next article?
I have certainly given that some thought. He really is underrated!
You point out an important market inefficiency. Relievers can be developed easily enough, and closers are not important on bad teams. As long as playoff teams will overpay for closers, rebuilding teams will be trading them. Although compare the haul SD got for Kimbrel versus the payoff from trading Hand and Cimber. Getting just one prospect makes it possible for that trade to be a bust, whereas with multiple prospects there’s a better chance one of them produces. Or compare the price Cleveland paid for Miller versus the price they just paid for Hand and Cimber.