AJ Preller and the San Diego Padres (43-57) are clearly sellers at the trade deadline. The 2015 experiment has proven to be a failure and it hasn’t been much better in 2016. Preller traded away a lot of the farm system to obtain big name players, but it hasn’t panned out in wins for the Padres.
Was AJ Preller’s plan really to be instant winners year 1? Or was his plan for the long term all along? I am beginning to think the latter. In recent weeks (and months) AJ Preller has traded away a handful of players. It started with Craig Kimbrel in the offseason, but during the year he has also made trades for James Shields, Fernando Rodney, and most recently Drew Pomeranz. He has received pretty solid young prospects in return for each of these players.
On top of that, AJ Preller made a huge splash on the International Signing day. As mentioned in my previous article, Preller was able to snag 8 of the top 30 players. In the last week he was also able to sign OF Jorge Ona, who was also a top International Player. Ona is said to be an all around player with strong power. All in all, Preller gave his farm system a massive boost whilst spending over $60 million, something the Padres do not have a history in doing.
And so the season continues. The Padres are 14 games under .500 and are all but a miracle from being out of the playoffs. Clearly, they are sellers. So who is on the trading block?
Andrew Cashner has been in the headlines for quite some time. This is interesting considering he has not had a good season. His ERA is 4.79 and he has been inconsistent at best. Well, inconsistency has been his problem in the majors. This is a guy that had 12 strikeouts and gave up 12 hits in the same game. He has a powerful fastball, but he has simply never been able to put it all together for a full season. Despite this, teams have been asking about him. AJ Preller has certainly been shopping him.
Last week there was a lot of noise that Cashner would be traded before his Thursday start, but it never happened. He actually had an excellent start giving up 1 run and striking out 8, which should cushion his trade value. The Orioles, Marlins, and Giants have all been rumored to be asking about Cashner. The problem is that the Padres are tagging him at a starter value, something some teams may not be ok with. This would explain the delay in moving Cashner. As would his inconsistency. It sounds as if he will pitch his next start in San Diego, but it remains to be seen after that.
Next up is the man formerly known as BJ Upton. He has had quite a bounce back season. A player who was once left for dead and shipped to San Diego as a throw-in player in the Kimbrel trade, has now suddenly shown he is worth his contract price. Melvin is batting .256, but he already has 16 home runs (including a league-leading 3 of walk-offs), 45 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. The stolen base number is among the league leaders, and his home run count is the most since 2012 (when he hit his career high of 28) and the 5th most in his 12 year career… and there are still over 60 games to be played. He is legitimately on pace for a 30 home run 30 stolen base season which is fantastic.
Melvin Upton Jr. has been rumored to be packaged with Andrew Cashner with some teams, primarily the Baltimore Orioles, but there may be no legs to that story. More recently, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Toronto Blue Jays are the front runners for Melvin Upton Jr. It is probably not a coincidence that Melvin had his second day off in a row today as the Padres played the Blue Jays.
Melvin has meant a lot this year to Padres fans who haven’t had much to cheer about in 2016. He has arguably been the most exciting player this season, coming out of no where.
The reality is, he is having too good of a season. Upton Jr. is probably at his peak trade value right now and just last year he was an extremely overpaid has-been player at $15 mil year. Now you have the chance to get rid of him and get a legitimate prospect or something else worthwhile in return. On top of that, the Padres have some pretty good outfielders in the minors itching to make their debuts. They currently have Travis Jankowski and Alex Dickerson on the roster, but also have standout prospect Hunter Renfroe waiting eagerly. It may behoove AJ Preller and the Padres to get rid of a starting outfielder (yes, I would prefer Kemp) to get a prospect, then let your current prospects get playing time. Sounds like its going to happen.
The most recent trade rumor has been for Derek Norris. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that the Padres are ‘pushing hard’ to trade Norris. There is no team in particular that is in the headlines, but the move is understandable. Norris is an above average defensive catcher but also has some nice pop and power on the offensive side of the plate. He is clearly having a down season in terms of batting average with a putrid .204, but still has 10+ home runs so far. Additionally, the Padres #1 prospect is catcher Austin Hedges (he actually had a lot of playing time in the majors last year but hasn’t seen the majors the entire season) who is tearing it up in the Minor Leagues this year. Also, current backup catcher Christian Bethancourt is a young athletic prospect in himself. Bethancourt has shown a lot of promise this year and is only 25.The bottom line is Derek Norris has become expendable in another bad season and it will only be time before he is traded.
Look for AJ Preller and the San Diego Padres to make some more moves before the trade deadline. You can almost count on the three above players being traded.