“To trade or not to trade,” wrote William Shakespeare. Well, at least it was something like that.
While the baseball world remains in limbo, it appears all but certain that games will be postponed, meaning there will be a second shortened season in just three years.
Once baseball does get going again, the Padres will look to fix the issues that plagued them in the second half of the 2021 season and try to rekindle the magic of the 2020 season. General manager A.J. Preller is on somewhat of a hot seat and he may be forced to make tough decisions about the futures of some players currently on the Padres roster.
2021 Stats: .256/.334/.434/.768, 17 HR, 113 OPS+, 0.8 WAR
Wil Myers is the longest-tenured Padre on the major league roster, but his roster spot for 2022 is put into question primarily because he is due $20 million for the season. Myers does have a one-year team extension, but in all likelihood, this will be his final season of this contract.
While Myers’ production is solid (the 113 OPS+ means he’s 13% better than the average hitter), he was unable to continue his splendid 2020 season, which placed him 16th in MVP voting, returning to the somewhat pedestrian numbers he had put up in 2018 and 2019. Myers won’t fetch a huge return, and it will likely take the Padres unloading a high-quality prospect in order for another team to take a significant portion of Myers’ salary.
That money would be useful should the Padres sign another top bat or if they want to add depth to a pitching staff that was decimated by injuries. If Myers stays, he’ll likely start in right or left field and put up above-average numbers in the middle of the order.
While the outfielder did not make a single error last season, his lack of range still made him a below-average defender (-8 Defensive Runs Saved). Unless there are massive changes in his production, Myers will cost a lot of money without a significant return on the field. However, with just one year left before the Padres can get rid of his burdensome salary, it isn’t worth losing a top prospect to free up $15 million for one season. The Padres need to focus on their future and keep themselves in contention for years to come.
Final Verdict: No Trade
2021 Stats: .266/.340/.460/.800, 21 HR, 122 OPS+, 4.9 WAR
Jake Cronenworth is an entirely different case than Wil Myers.
Cronenworth is on a league minimum salary for the 2022 season, and he’ll have three years of arbitration, meaning the Padres control his rights until 2026. He’s also producing at an extremely high level, posting the 36th highest WAR in the MLB. For reference, NL MVP Bryce Harper posted a 5.9 WAR, just one win higher than Cronenworth.
The infielder does it all, hitting to all fields, for average and power, striking out 60 percent less than the average hitter, while also posting 5 Defensive Runs Saved saved as a fielder, making him extremely valuable to the Padres. However, every single desirable trait that Cronenworth has makes him extremely interesting to the rest of the league.
The Michigan product can play nearly all over the infield, which means he could plug and play for every single team, and with four years of team control, he’d be an affordable and long-term option for whatever team he plays for. Ha-Seong Kim is already an elite defender who plays all over the infield, and in all likelihood, his hitting will get even better as he continues to adjust to major league pitching.
Cronenworth would fetch a huge haul from a major league team that wants a cheap player with an immediate impact.
Final Verdict: Trade if overwhelmed
2021 Stats: 5.07 ERA, 108.1 IP, 1.265 WHIP, 77 ERA+, 3.78 FIP
Chris Paddack’s time with the Padres has been extremely eventful and disappointing.
The native of Texas dazzled in his rookie season, but he struggled in 2020, and through a combination of injuries and poor play, his spot on the Padres roster is very much in doubt. His ERA ballooned above five, and with the return of Mike Clevinger and Adrian Morejon from Tommy John surgeries, Paddack will have an uphill battle to work his way back into a regular spot in the rotation.
However, there’s a lot of reason for optimism for Paddack.
His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was a career-low 3.78, which suggests that Paddack’s 5.07 ERA was an extreme underperformance from what otherwise would have been expected. Baseball-Reference recognizes this, as Paddack’s 2022 projections currently have him with a 4.40 ERA, which would undoubtedly be worth a spot as either a fifth starter or a long reliever. Paddack also has three years of team control, and his trade value is at an all-time low.
It doesn’t make sense to deal Paddack, so the Padres will need to have confidence that he finds a way to lock up opposing hitters.
Final Verdict: No Trade