With the trade winds picking up speed by the day, it’s essential to look at some possible under-the-radar deals as well.
The Padres need a starting pitcher, or two, or three. Just acquiring one of Noah Syndergaard, Trevor Bauer or Marcus Stroman will not automatically turn the Padres into a 90-win team. The key to winning a championship is depth and having depth everywhere.
Before we go any further, this is not to suggest that 31-year-old Mike Leake is the missing ingredient to having a championship parade in the Gaslamp Quarter, but there could be multiple benefits into looking at a possible deal with the Seattle Mariners for the starting pitcher formerly of Fallbrook High School.
The most recent World Series champions have all had ridiculous starting pitching depth, and that is by no accident.
Mike Leake is past his prime, let’s not dance around that fact. His best season was in 2013 with the Reds when he had a 3.37 ERA in 31 starts with a 112 ERA+. However, that does not mean Leake couldn’t be valuable to a young team like the Padres.
Leake is an innings-eater with at least 150 innings pitched every season since his rookie year in 2010. He has made 30 starts in seven straight seasons. In an evolving starting rotation in San Diego, Leake could become a trusty fifth starter to lead this young group and eat innings.
The Mariners are in the middle of a rebuild, one that they hope is quick, but it looks like they are a step (or year?) or two behind the Padres and their rebuild. Seattle has shown they are willing to take on messy contracts (see Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion, and Anthony Swarzak).
Seattle’s General Manager Jerry DiPoto did a great job rebuilding a thin farm system this past winter and went from one of the worst to now 15th in the league according to FanGraphs. Surely, he wants to bolster it further.
The Padres likely are trying to rid themselves of Wil Myers’ contract which is turning more into an albatross by the day as it balloons from $5 million to $20 million next season. His production is doing the exact opposite as he is hitting a lowly .213 with 12 home runs and a major league-high strikeout rate of 36.3 percent. He also has been next to useless in the field, with a total of -7 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield, all this resulting in a -0.6 WAR.
If the Padres are ever to deal Myers, it will likely cost them a prospect they highly regard as well. That’s how the market works today. However, Leake isn’t exactly cheap either, as he is owed $15 million next year.
Colby Patnode of Fansided’s Sodo Mojo also entertained the idea.
Who else is ready for the inevitable Wil Myers to Seattle trade? https://t.co/CZhcUXXRV5
— SoDo Mojo (@SodoMojoFS) June 14, 2019
Basically, the Padres would be ridding themselves of the three-year, $60 million contract of an outfielder who is a below-average fielder and hitter at this point, for one year and $15 million at a position they desperately need with a guy who is still putting up respectable numbers (4.25 ERA, 103 ERA+ in 21 starts this year).
Luckily for the Padres, Leake’s contract would also prevent the Mariners from being able to ask for premium prospects. However, to ask the Mariners to take on the entirety of Myers’ remaining contract, it won’t be for free.
The trade I am proposing involves two Padres prospects who are both blocked by a player that will be on the major league roster for at least another four years and possibly nine, pending the player option. That player is, of course, Manny Machado. The prospects are Triple-A power hitter Ty France and third baseman Hudson Potts.
France’s name doesn’t bring as much clout as Potts since France is ranked 27th in the Padres’ organization while Potts is ninth and five years younger. France came up for a brief spell when Fernando Tatis Jr. was hurt, and Machado had to move to shortstop and showed he was not quite ready for The Show, batting .235 with a .647 OPS in 34 games. Potts is in Double-A Amarillo, with 10 home runs and a .695 OPS, not eye-popping but he is young for that level.
The Mariners have a guy named Kyle Seager, who has manned third base for the better part of nine years with an All-Star selection and a Gold Glove to his name. Clearly, he is on the decline, at nearly 32 years old and is having his second straight career-worst year at the plate (.199 average, .691 OPS). His replacement needs to be ready soon.
Giving Seattle France and Potts would ensure they have two reliable options for their future as well as an option to be a designated hitter to provide depth behind 2019 All-Star Dan Vogelbach.
Meanwhile, the Padres get a reliable arm, a local kid that is easy to root for and that is under contract for the 2020 season, a season in which the Padres envision to be fully in contention. Championship teams need guys like Leake in the rotation. The 2017 champion Astros had Mike Fiers, a 32-year-old who gave them 150 innings and 28 starts in the back end of their rotation.
In the end, the Padres rid themselves of Myers’ contract, add a starting pitcher and do not lose their most prized prospects. If the Mariners feel their return isn’t enough, San Diego can always send cash to aid in paying for Myers. Also, Myers just might benefit from a change of scenery and the option to be a DH.
The Mariners and Padres have been trading partners quite frequently over the years, as they have made five deals since A.J. Preller took over in San Diego in August of 2014.
Of course, the Padres still need to acquire a front-line starter, but Leake would add value to a young, thin rotation and also help the Padres free themselves of Myers’ deal.