Buyers or Sellers?
Admit it. You kind of forgot about the Padres all tucked away down there in the National League West, playing games that finish well past your bedtime and having a generally overall boring team. Does Trevor Hoffman still play for them? No? Oh, well, who cares, they still serve fantastic fish tacos there.
This year’s model is much like the past several: not competitive. Currently ten games below .500 and “just” six-and-a-half games out of first, the Friars don’t have the firepower to compete with the free-spending Dodgers or the savvy and youthful Diamondbacks and Rockies. Normally this would mean they would be sellers but they do not have much to offer as they have moved most of their major league chips in recent seasons. In fact, their current payroll is just $13M higher than what it was in 2000 – when they didn’t have a new stadium and finished dead last. If they sell, it won’t be much. Chase Headley is their big ticket item but all signs point to them retaining him. They may unload pitchers like Jason Marquis, Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez or reliever Luke Gregerson.
Here’s the thing: They are not acting as sellers. They have reportedly been scouting top flight starting pitching. Could they possibly be buying?
What They Need?
A front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. Following in the footsteps of Joe Wieland, Casey Kelly, the prized prospect received in the Adrian Gonzalez trade with Boston, had Tommy John surgery in March and will be out of action for quite some time. Based on his pedigree, he was supposed to be the anchor for years to come. Now, the rotation is led by Twins’ castoff Jason Marquis, who has done quite well for himself in San Diego, and 33-year-old Eric Stultz.
Rumors circulated that the Padres tried to acquire Jake Arrieta from the Orioles before the Cubs packaged Scott Feldman for him. They also tried for Ricky Nolasco before the Dodgers netted him. According the MLBTradeRumors.com, the Padres have had scouts keeping an eye on Matt Garza who may still be available – but at a steep price. The Padres system, however, had a pre-season ranking of fourth overall, so there are plenty of young trading chips if need be.
What Might Work
With the Twins? Eh…not much. After all, the Padres’ biggest need (starting pitching) is also the Twins' biggest need. It’s hard to see these two teams finding a match.
While the Twins are holding on to back-of-the-rotation starters like Mike Pelfrey, who might help a contender add depth to the rotation through the regular season, the Padres likely have no use for that. Based on their scouting wish list (Garza, Nolasco) they are thinking big. (Although, I once test drove a Ferrari with absolutely no possibility of ever purchasing it.) What else? The Padres have experienced Kevin Correia once so it is hard to see them trying to make a move for him.
Huston Street, the one-time lights-out closer for the Rockies and A’s, has fallen on hard times in San Diego. While he isn’t a disaster, his strikeout rate has taken a substantial dip as his velocity has decreased to the upper-80s and his once potent slider is no longer the bat-misser it was. If they get overzealous, they may be interested in an arm like Glen Perkins or Jared Burton to improve their ‘pen.
Overall, there may be possibilities of a minor move but these two franchises are too simpatico for the pair to be viable trade partners.
Robbie Erlin – LHP – Triple-A -- 22-years-old
A third-round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2009, the left-handed Erlin came over to the Padres along with Joe Wieland in the Mike Adams trade. With command and guile over raw stuff, Erlin is very much a Twins-type pitcher (read: sub-90 velocity) though he does have a good breaking ball. He has a few MLB innings under his belt.
Keyvius Sampson – RHP – Triple-A -- 22-years-old
Selected a round later than Erlin in 2009, the Padres landed the slight-framed Sampson (six-foot-nothing, 185 pounds) out of a Florida high school. Baseball America was impressed by his secondary stuff – namely his curveball and change – but his consistency has not been terrific as he has averaged four walks per nine innings pitched in five minor league seasons.
Adys Portillo – RHP – Low-A – 21 years old
Like a vast majority of the Padres’ pitching prospects, Portillo has spent a lot of 2013 injured. His injury, however, isn’t nearly as significant as Kelly;s or Wieland’s UCL tears. Still, Baseball America rated Portillo’s fastball as his best asset as well as the best in the system so a lat/tricep injury may affect the velocity. Like many young hard-throwing hurlers, Portillo’s command needs work (over five walks per nine innings); last year this resulted in a demotion to High-A from AA. Dream Target
Max Fried – LHP – Low-A – 19 years old
Unless the Padres are more desperate for Perkins than a group of drunken college kids at 2 AM, then there is likely no way the Twins could get Fried. In fact, the Padres would have to be a bunch of drunken college kids to swap a potential number one starter for a closer. Still, we can dream, can’t we? Prospectphiles may have heard Fried’s name in combination with Lucas Giolito, giving Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles an amazing one-two punch. Drafted seventh overall by the Padres in 2012, this six-foot-four lefty is currently chopping up the competition in the Midwest League, striking out 22.3% of hitters faced. His 57% ground ball rate is in the league’s top ten but his weak spot right now is the walks – the 11.5% walk rate places him fourth in the league right behind the Twins’ Hudson Boyd.