Looking at a potential three-team trade with the Pirates and Marlins, which strengthens the San Diego Padres at many different levels.
The 2020 Major League Baseball off-season is underway, and A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres can wax poetic about their monumental turnaround in 2020.
The Padres moved molehills heretofore termed too mountainous to budge.
However, nothing stays the same as inevitable change, and expiring contracts, age, and changing contract value make the job of general manager a never-ending one. The Padres did not win a title this season either as their Southern California rivals not only stole the division but the league and the big cake in the process.
Preller’s nature likely won’t let him rest on this roster.
Aside from a few big splashes in the free-agent market, his primary roster construction move has been the trade. The traditional two-team trade often works well, but sometimes teams simply can’t find common ground. As the front office contemplates its off-season to-do list, let’s investigate a trio of three-team trades that could make the Padres better in 2021.
Each center around maximizing the work already done to improve the roster, valuing cost-effective decision-making that can lengthen the championship window, and keeping the farm intact. Each is made with a “win-win” mentality. Each may need minor pieces to consummate a match, but in general, each team involved becomes better as a result of them.
The first of this three-part series centers around a possible trade of clubhouse general Eric Hosmer.
The First Base Merry-Go-Round
Here’s The Deal:
In Hosmer’s return to his hometown, the Marlins find a leader for their young roster (where have we seen this before?) as well as controllable potential in a power bat, a back-end arm, and catcher. The Padres get cheap, established, high-ceiling pieces at first, the outfield, and the rotation. All have succeeded previously but come with risks. In short, the Pirates get cheap, controllable star potential and two players as bridges to that future.
The Padres’ angle? Bell, Taillon, and Polanco are Pirates who need new scenery as much as men named Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, and Austin Meadows did. The Padres suddenly can develop players under the tutelage of BBWAA National League Manager of the Year finalist Jayce Tingler and his staff. Each former Pirate, when healthy, has produced at well above average levels.
In fact, each could be an All-Star in their first seasons with San Diego. Bell, a switch-hitter, has MVP ability. As recent as 2019, Bell hit 37 home runs with a slash line of .277/.367/.569 and an OPS of .936. For comparison, in the single best Padres season of all time in terms of team winning percentage, Wil Myers (.959), Manny Machado (.950), and Fernando Tatis, Jr. (.937) all barely bested Bell’s OPS.
Taillon has borderline Cy Young ability. As recent as 2018, Taillon went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA over 191 innings, striking out nearly a batter per inning. Taillon plays the role of difference-maker if healthy.
Bell and Taillon’s low cost makes rolling the dice with Polanco a worthy gamble, heading into his age 29 season. He could very well be the Profar of 2021. He struggled mightily in 2020, but his previous 5 years averaged (roughly) .250/.325 with multiple 20+ homer seasons and around 15 steals a season.
It would cost a few controllable, high ceiling players and Hosmer. The farm is deep, and the savings in that contract could be used for other needs.
Imagine a lineup that runs Tatis, Jr., Grisham, Machado, Bell, Myers, Cronenworth, Nola, Polanco with room for Pham as designated hitter if continued. Imagine a rotation of Lamet, Clevinger, Taillon, Davies, and Paddack. Now, imagine that those three additions would cost essentially a net equal to the Hosmer’s singular contract. There would be money to sign and resign bullpen pieces.
The Pirates get younger, cheaper, and add potential All-Star prospects. The Marlins add a worthy captain from their backyard to guide their talented youth, signaling a needed change for the fanbase. The Padres gain an even greater chance at glory.
Sometimes, two teams can’t link up to make a deal where both teams walk away feeling fairness and equitability. Sometimes, it takes three teams to make the ideal swap, finding valued improvements for all parties. Risk plays a role in all deals, but this deal gives the Padres a significantly better outlook heading into 2021.
The next trade might also ruffle some feathers, but all possible angles must be explored in improving a franchise.
Look for the second edition of this series in the coming days here at EVT.