What are A.J. Preller’s Current Trade Chips?

Credit: MLB.com

Credit: USA Today Sports

Major League Players

Brad Hand

Yes, I know, he was just signed to a three-year deal, but that really doesn’t mean much. The Padres bought out his arbitration years and get him for one more year of service time. He is under team-control through 2020 and has excellent trade value. If the team wants to utilize him for the start of the 2018 season as their closer, his value could increase even more. Reports are that the Padres would deal Hand, but only for a huge haul of talent. Other teams will keep in contact with the Padres, and if they get desperate enough, Preller could very well receive his lofty asking price.

Cory Spangenberg

He played third base for the team in 2017 and, at times, looked very solid with the bat and glove. The inconsistencies that have plagued him his whole major league career continue to be an issue. Spangenberg has surprising pop for his size, but he is not a prototypical third baseman by any means. He could earn some time at second this season, but the Friars seem content with Carlos Asuaje at the position until Luis Urias is ready. Spangenberg could be dealt, but his current value is probably not at that level the Padres want it to be in order to get a decent return back. 2018 will be big for Cory Spangenberg in determining his future in the game.

Chase Headley

The team is currently exploring options for Headley, but are getting virtually no bites. The slow free agent market has hurt the team as Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, and others are still unsigned. Teams just have no interest in Headley at this point. Things could change in a hurry as pitchers and catchers report in less than one month. The Padres probably have no issue with Headley at third to start the season, though the fan base would probably storm the gates with pitchforks in hands. Headley is not flashy, but his stoic personalty could be very beneficial for these young Padre’ players.

Travis Jankowski

“Fast Freddy” is quick, but he can’t get on base enough to utilize the speed. The useful defensive-minded outfielder is capable of playing center and should have value somewhere. The Padres have Manuel Margot set to man center field for a long time, and Jankowski just isn’t a force enough with the bat to play corner outfield on a regular basis. Franchy Cordero is also emerging as a stronger version of Jankowski, with much more upside. Travis Jankowski has some value, but will be a difficult sell by Preller. At this point he is just wasting a 40-man spot on the Padres’ roster because the competition is just so steep.

Hunter Renfroe

A surprise addition to this list is Hunter Renfroe. The slugging outfielder was not drafted by Preller and could be a key piece in a potential trade. Renfroe has definite plate discipline issues that need to be addressed. His demotion last year to El Paso indicates that the team is getting fed up with his lack of adjustments. Renfroe has interesting trade value right now. Another team could get enamored with his power and A.J. might sell Renfroe while further stocking up the farm system.

Minor League Players

Franchy Cordero

I really hate putting him on this list. He has grown so much as a player in the past few years. Cordero is technically still a rookie, although he got a pretty nice taste of major league action last season. He has plate discipline issues, but the ball jumps off his bat. He has great speed and is turning into a plus defender in center. His left-handed stroke is something the Padres need, but he could be used as trade bait as the Padres have Margot in center and Renfroe in right set up to be the outfielders for a long time.

Credit: USA Today Sports/Jake Roth

Josh Naylor

All the Eric Hosmer talk and Wil Myers signed long-term at first base makes Naylor a likely trade chip. He can only play first and some think he may be better suited as a DH. I like the young man and his energy. He carries himself well and plays the game with a swagger you cannot teach. A.J. Preller and the Padres have pushed him and he has responded. Playing Double-A at the age of 20 is quite an accomplishment and he could take a further step in 2018, boosting his trade value.

Walker Lockett

The Padres need starting pitching and Lockett is really close to being ready. You would have to figure he will be in a Padres’ uniform at some point in 2018. He is still relatively young (23), but Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer, Jacob Nix, and Joey Lucchesi are all on his heels and each come with a much higher upside. Lockett may get an early chance, but his 40-man spot might be too valuable for him to remain with the team.

Michael Gettys

He is an ultra-exciting player to watch. But just as high as you get seeing him track down fly balls and smash opposite field doubles with ease, you bottom out witnessing him flailing at off-speed pitches and looking lost at the plate. He is an enigma. Will he ever figure it out? He has all the tools in the world and could be of interest to another team looking for a project. With Buddy Reed, Mason House, Jeisson Rosario, and Tirso Ornelas coming up quickly, his time to succeed might need to be now. He is a sleeper candidate for a breakout 2018 season.

Javier Guerra

Once considered the possible shortstop of the future, Javier Guerra is far from that currently. The defensive specialist and left-handed hitter still has value, but seems to be getting buried by other Padres players who are progressing at the position. Fernando Tatis is likely going to start in San Antonio and Gabriel Arias looks like a very fast riser, but where does that leave Guerra? Jose Rondon was DFA’d and traded to the White Sox and that clears things up a bit, but Guerra could be dangled in trade talks without damaging the overall mission.

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7 thoughts on “What are A.J. Preller’s Current Trade Chips?

  1. I think we have to think of Headley as the signing cost of Bryan Mitchell. Just as we paid $22 million for Morejon, we paid $13 millioin for Mitchell. Any amount of that we can recoup but jetting off Headley would be icing.

  2. Brad Hand has an incredibly cheap team option of 10M for 2021, so he has 4 years of control. I might be in the minority but of current 3B options Headley is the strongest they have. Getting rid of him to save 4 to 6M makes no sense. Every team is getting 50M this year from Disney, Until Christian forces the situation with a huge ST performance, AJ and Andy should be content with playing out Headleys deal.

  3. I would’ve thought Brett Kennedy would also be on this list. Maybe also Chris Huffman, Eric Yardley, Jerry Keel, Austin Allen (though wouldn’t like trading Allen), or Ruddy Giron.

  4. Teams can only buy out option years, and only at a prenegotiated price that is part of the player’s contract. There is no way to get out of paying the full $13 million owed to Headley under any circumstances. MLB contracts are 100% guaranteed.

  5. Can MLB teams “buy out” contracts like they do in the NBA? It might be a win, win if they were able to buy out Headley. He has zero value at best for the Padres, and likely negative value for them. And he doesn’t want to be there.

  6. Trading someone playing over their head and due for regression sounds like a good idea. Signing Hosmer after a career year does not.

  7. I would just trade Headley to any team that’s willing to eat some of the money on his contract. He’s not part of the future, and gets in the way of a legitimate 3B prospect like Villanueva.

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