For the most part, the first-half of the Padres’ 2016 season was forgettable. The team sputtered to a 38-51 record, and much like the way the year started, the Padres lost three straight games to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the All-Star break.
There were, however, a few highlights from the first half.
But with the August 1st trade deadline looming, the Padres could look a lot different down the stretch.
Here’s a look at five Padres that could be moved before the end of the season.
Drew Pomeranz (NOTE: This story has been updated now that Pomeranz has been traded to the Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza)
The biggest question regarding the team (assuming Wil Myers is untradeable) is the future of Pomeranz.
The market for lefty-starters is thin and the fact that he is controllable through the 2018 season makes acquiring the former first-round pick enticing to clubs gearing up for a playoff run. From the Padres perspective, the prospect of trading Pomeranz is equally tempting if the return is deemed valuable enough. His name has already reportedly been linked to clubs like Texas, Boston, Baltimore, and Miami. His value may never be higher considering that Pomeranz, 27, has already surpassed 100 innings for the first time in his career. So far, the All-Star’s sample size is small, albeit strong, but who knows how his arm will hold up in the second half.
General manager A.J. Preller had this to say about trading Pomeranz:
“Not an easy guy to deal. Anytime you have a left-handed starter perform the way he has that results in an All-Star birth, you got to feel very good about the return you’re getting. I think it says a lot to Espinoza as far what our group thought about him. From that standpoint, when we looked at it, we felt like we were getting a premium guy, a guy that’s been close to untouchable in the last year. When he was put on the table, knowing how well Drew was throwing for us, knowing what he’s going to do for the Red Sox and what it’s going to look like here in the next couple months in terms of his performance, we knew we had to get back a premium guy and we felt like we did that.”
Melvin Upton Jr.
Upton Jr. could be the one player that general manager A.J. Preller is most pleased with this season. After all, his contract was thought to be virtually unmovable after the Padres acquired him as the “thrown-in” piece in the deal with Craig Kimbrel from the Braves last year. Upton Jr. is quietly having an impressive resurgence this season and is a legitimate candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. He’s hitting .262 with 16 home runs, 44 RBI, and has stolen 20 bases. Seriously, he’s on pace for 29 homers, 80 RBI, and 36 bags. He could be the Padres first-ever 30-30 player! Throw in his excellent defense and versatility in the outfield and the $24M remaining on his contract through the 2017 season doesn’t look so scary.
Solarte missed 38 games earlier this season with a hamstring injury but has played well since returning. He’s batting .295/.374/.514 this year with 14 doubles, eight homers, and 35 RBI. He’s a versatile player that can play multiple spots in the infield and offers some flexibility in the lineup as a switch hitter. Perhaps the most impressive part of Solarte’s game is that he’s not an innings killer. He’s striking out at an impressively low 14 percent rate and has grounded into just one double play in 173 at-bats. Put him in a deeper lineup that can hit and he could be an x-factor for some teams looking to go deep in October. Solarte is controllable through the 2019 season, but will be 32 by then. For a Padres team that is trying to get younger and build for the future, there’s really no reason to keep him.
Cashner is without a doubt the most frustrating and confounding Padres player. We’ve seen plenty of flashes and plenty of explosions throughout his tenure in San Diego, which basically sums up his career as a Padre, especially the last two seasons. His 184 innings in 2015 were a career-high, but he’s only made 30 starts in a single season once in four years as a starter. Throw in multiple trips to the disabled list over the years and its clear that Cashner is never going to justify the trading of Anthony Rizzo, who’s now a three-time All-Star. Despite imploding against the Dodgers in his most recent start (2.2IP, 8ER), Cashner has had some consistency on the mound this year. He’s allowed just three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 12 starts this year (excluding his June 10th start against Colorado when he threw to just one batter before exiting with a neck strain). A team in the hunt looking for depth in the starting rotation could take a chance on the big Texan. That’d be the Padres best hope because if he’s not traded, the team would either risk losing him in the offseason for nothing, or the chance that he’d actually take a qualifying offer. He’s also a candidate to be moved after the non-waiver deadline.
Norris has rebounded nicely since a dismal two-month start to the season in which he batted .179 over 151 at-bats. Since June, he’s hit .260 with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 104 at-bats. Furthermore, his defense and pitch framing have improved tremendously this year, and was even named ESPN’s defense player of the month in June. Now, it is difficult to trade catchers midseason, but Norris has been an All-Star, is controllable through the 2018 season, and is only 27. There just isn’t a lot of risk in acquiring a player like Norris. That said, it also wouldn’t be the end of the world if Austin Hedges, 23, spends the rest of the season at Triple-A El Paso if Norris isn’t moved. Hedges has made huge strides with his bat this year (.397/.438/.809 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI in just 141 at-bats) and it would do him good to sustain that success across an entire season. He should, and likely will be, the Padres starting catcher in 2017.
–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)