With the trade deadline just hours away, the Padres are on the clock to figure out what to do, and hopefully how to fix, this struggling ball club. Despite winning 10 of their last 14 games, there’s thought the Padres will move several of the team’s biggest names. The question is, who should go and who shouldn’t?
That’s a legitimate question many didn’t think the Padres brass would be forced to ask themselves at the start of the year. But, the reality is this team isn’t as good as was hoped, and changes need to be made.
Here’s my take on some of the Padres biggest names who’ve mentioned in trade rumors:
Justin Upton – It was known before the season even began that the acquisition of Justin Upton would likely be short lived. It’s just that the Padres thought it would be for the entire 2015 season. With Upton hitting the open market after this season, and the Padres, despite winning 10 of their last 14 games, seemingly out of the playoff hunt, it’s almost virtually certain he will be traded, and he should be. His asking price will be too steep for the Padres after this season. General manager A.J. Preller needs to replenish the farm system after last offseason’s cleansing, and trading Upton is his best chance at getting that process started. This one will hurt the optimists, but are the Padres really going to fork up the $200 plus million he will command in the offseason?
James Shields – Preller awarded Shields, 33, with the highest free agent contract in team history when he signed the veteran right hander to a four-year $75 million deal. Shields has been solid this season (8-4, 3.77 ERA in 133.2 innings pitched) but not as good as the team hoped he would be. I’m not a big fan of trading a high-profile free agent just after he signed but moving him will help offset a good chunk of the money the Padres are on the hook for next year. His $10 million salary this year jumps to $21 million the next three seasons. Given his age, and the number of innings he has on his track record, paying that kind of money for an aging pitcher just doesn’t seem like a good investment for the Padres. However, if other teams are asking the Padres to contribute significant money in any deal, I would hold on to him then. There’s nothing worse than paying high-profile players to play for other teams, and not get anything real back in return.
Joaquin Benoit – Benoit has perhaps been the Padres best reliever this season (6-4, 2.27 ERA in 43.2 innings pitched). But, his $8 million salary this season is hardly worth it since the Padres aren’t winning as expected. Coupled with closer Craig Kimbrel’s $9 million salary this season, that’s a lot of money tied to the back end of a bullpen for a losing club.
Andrew Cashner & Tyson Ross – The Padres should hold on to the corps of their starting rotation. Cashner is under team control for one more season and Ross is for two. Both haven’t been as good as they were last year, but their ceilings are still high, and they’re likely better than anything the Padres would get back in return if either is traded, especially if management is truly hoping to contend in 2016. Both are 28 and in the prime of their careers. Additionally, the Padres currently don’t have any real studs waiting for a shot at the big leagues in the minors.
Craig Kimbrel – Trading Kimbrel, after assuming the massive contract for Melvin Upton Jr. to get him, would be a disaster for the Padres. Given the high expectations of this season and the impending sell-off, management is already toying with the minds of a tired fan base. Like Benoit, its tough to justify his salary, and role, on a losing club. But, he’s still only 27 and is under contract for two more years with a club option in 2018. If you want to win, you need a closer, and the Padres have the best in the business.
Why are we even talking about this?
Will Venable – Venable is a free agent after the season, but is a nice lefty off the bench and can play all three outfield spots. He’s not a starter, though so what’s the angle in trading him? Is a team going to give up a legit prospect for a bench player? No. With his age (32) and track record, Preller would be swapping bench players with another team. At least Venable is a solid guy in the clubhouse, the longest tenured Padre, and wants to be in San Diego.
Ian Kennedy – No way Preller gets anything measurable back in a trade that involves Kennedy. It would have to be a package deal, with Kennedy as an attachment. Maybe he saves a little cash, but again, nothing’s coming back to San Diego that will make a difference.
Jedd Gyorko: If Preller can get anyone to take on Gyorko’s contract (5 years, $35 million), all the more power to him. That would be great. Gyorko is likely another packaged deal player. He’d have to be thrown in with, say, Cashner or Ross. His contract, at this point, is of major concern since his numbers this year and last have come no where near his 2013 production as a rookie. I’ll say this though, don’t be surprised if a change of scenery for a young player with a lot of pop works out to his benefit.
-Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)
Who do you think should be traded and who shouldn’t? Let us know in the comments below.
(VIDEO: Padres manager Pat Murphy and outfielders Will Venable, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton discuss where the team is at after a 6-3 homestand and how they’re dealing with the upcoming trade deadline.)