Roster Revamp: San Diego Padres

Trades

Players

Editor’s note: Welcome back to the Roster Revamp series. In each article, BTV Associate Editor Joshua Iversen will be completing a team’s offseason by compiling different user-submitted proposals from the site’s trade boards into a single plan. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.

A.J. Preller has his work cut out for him in San Diego. The Padres were one of the most disappointing teams in baseball in 2021, finishing under .500 despite high-profile moves and a record payroll. The team has holes to address if they’re going to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers (and, after their surprising 2021, the San Francisco Giants). But money figures to be tight and a farm system that was once baseball’s best is now looking thin due to various trades and promotions. If anyone can figure out what to do here, it’s Preller, but this is looking like his toughest challenge yet.

Where they stand

There’s a reason San Diego was competitive in 2020 and expected to be even stronger in 2021. Any team that starts with talents like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado has a high floor and the potential for greatness. Outfielder Trent Grisham and infielder Jake Cronenworth still have plenty of team control remaining, and there are still a few notable prospects who have yet to debut, but all of San Diego’s four best starting pitchers will be hitting free agency in the next two years. The Padres’ window is open now, and it’s time to capitalize on it.

The financials aren’t pretty. Roster Resource projects their 2022 payroll at $199 million, a notable increase from their 2021 figure of $174 million – and that’s before addressing most of their needs. The Padres have typically been a lower-budget team, so it’s hard to imagine payroll going any higher, especially after a disappointing year. Whatever luxury tax considerations make it into the new CBA will also be a factor. It is very likely the team will have to find a way to improve the roster while either cutting payroll or keeping it in the same neighborhood.

What they’ve done

San Diego’s cost-cutting began before the lockout, their most notable move being a trade of recently acquired utility man Adam Frazier ($0.8M median trade value) to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for prospects Corey Rosier ($1.4M) and Ray Kerr ($0.6M). Frazier is projected to earn $7.5 million in his final year of arbitration and didn’t have a clear spot with the Padres, especially after a poor second half.

The team also took care of some housekeeping in the bullpen. Club options were exercised on veterans Craig Stammen and Pierce Johnson, while Keone Kela’s was declined. Righty Trey Wingenter and lefties Jose Castillo and Matt Strahm were non-tendered. Mark Melancon, coming off a strong year, declined his own player option and later signed with the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks.

Preller also had something of a run on ex-Rangers, picking up former top prospects from his old organization. First, Jurickson Profar (-$8.3M), whom Preller traded for in 2019 and re-signed in 2020, exercised his player option. At the non-tender deadline, Preller grabbed catcher Jorge Alfaro ($0.7M) from the Miami Marlins in exchange for a PTBNL or cash. Alfaro is a strange fit for the Padres, as he’s projected to earn $2.75 million in 2022 and the team appeared set at catcher. Preller also took a flier on Nomar Mazara on a minor league deal.

San Diego also signed three free agent pitchers. Veteran righty Luis Garcia, who was fantastic for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021, earned a two-year, $7 million deal. The Padres turned to the international market to sign starter Nick Martinez (four years, $20 million) and reliever Robert Suarez (one year, $7 million), both from the NPB. Martinez wasn’t able to officially sign before the lockout, but the contract is expected to be completed as soon as a new CBA is agreed upon. These are a pair of low-risk, high-upside gambles on pitchers who were excellent overseas in 2021 and will now see if that can carry over against MLB competition.

The Padres also addressed their clubhouse culture by replacing manager Jayce Tingler with former Oakland Athletics skipper Bob Melvin, who is considered one of the best in the game. There were reportedly some issues in the dugout during the second half of 2021, but Melvin’s experience and reputation make him the perfect choice to right the ship.

What they still need

Right now, Mazara is penciled in as San Diego’s starting left fielder. That’s a problem. There aren’t any obvious reinforcements on the way, as top outfield prospect Robert Hassell has yet to play above High-A. Top shortstop prospect CJ Abrams might have some outfield in his future, as he’s blocked on the infield by Tatis and Cronenworth, but he missed most of 2021 with significant leg injuries, so he’ll likely need some extra time to make it to the majors even without considering a position change.

First base is an issue as well, but it’s one that might not have a feasible solution. Eric Hosmer has been a league average hitter and essentially a replacement level player over his four years with the Padres. But he’s owed $20 million in 2022, and is all but certain to opt into an additional three years and $39 million after the season. Even if San Diego added a top first baseman like Matt Olson or Freddie Freeman, Hosmer is stuck on the roster, and given the sizable financial commitment and his lack of defensive versatility, he doesn’t make much sense as a bench bat. So unless Preller can shock the world and find a new home for Hosmer, he’s likely to see significant playing time either at first base or designated hitter (assuming the universal DH is agreed upon).

The Hosmer predicament makes it even more important that San Diego adds another bat beyond just filling the one outfield spot. Doing so would bump Profar to the bench, joining Ha-Seong Kim in the utility role both are best suited for.

The Padres could use another rotation arm if one comes their way, but with offense the priority and resources tight, it isn’t a necessity. Mike Clevinger is slated to come back from Tommy John Surgery in the early part of the season, but San Diego can use younger arms like Mackenzie Gore and Ryan Weathers, or perhaps a lower-end free agent arm, to hold down that spot in the interim. Likewise, another quality relief arm or two would be welcome, but isn’t a top priority.

What they have

San Diego has a logjam behind the plate. Austin Nola is the likely starter, and Alfaro has the inside track on the backup job. That leaves 2021 backup Victor Caratini ($1.9M) and top prospect Luis Campusano ($22.2M) as trade candidates.

Campusano, Abrams ($68.3M) and Hassell ($38.7M) are the Padres’ only prospects with double-digit trade values. While depth at the position makes a Campusano trade at least feasible, the team’s long-term outfield needs make a Hassell deal harder to stomach. Abrams will be difficult to find a match on until he shows his leg is fully healthy, plus his high pedigree puts him into a class of prospects who are rarely traded. Trading Hassell or Abrams would likely indicate that Preller is pushing all his chips in to win during this short window.

Historically, Preller has been more inclined to deal from the middle of his farm, thinning that group in the process. Some names that remain include Gore ($9.0M), infielder Jackson Merrill ($6.6M) and outfielders James Wood ($6.6M) and Joshua Mears ($4.5M). Left-handed pitcher Adrian Morejon ($6.6M), rehabbing from Tommy John, fits into this category as well.

One interesting name is right-handed pitcher Chris Paddack ($17.4M). Once seen as a rising star, Paddack is coming off two consecutive disappointing seasons. The upside is still there, but as essentially a two-pitch pitcher, so is the relief risk. He doesn’t have a guaranteed spot anywhere in San Diego as he enters his first year of arbitration, projected to earn $2.1 million, and seems like a prime change of scenery candidate. There is one complicating factor: a season-ending elbow injury suffered in September 2021.

The Padres might find it impossible to trade Hosmer’s contract, but they should have a slightly easier time moving Wil Myers (-$12.8M). While he never lived up to the prospect hype, Myers has settled in as a slightly above average hitter without much of a glove. He has field value and belongs on a major league team (perhaps as a designated hitter) but the $22.5 million he’s owed in 2022 doesn’t quite match the production. The one-year commitment will be much easier to swallow for an acquiring team, and a Myers deal is the most obvious way for San Diego to get its finances in order.

What they could do

Wise beyond years

Cubs get:

Padres get:

C Luis Campusano

$22.2M

1B/3B Patrick Wisdom

$10.1M

OF Wil Myers

-$12.8M

Total

$9.4M

Total

$10.1M

San Diego C Luis Campusano ($22.2M) and OF Wil Myers (-$12.8M) ($9.4M total) to the Chicago Cubs for 1B/3B Patrick Wisdom ($10.1M)

Moving Myers will require San Diego to either eat more than half of his contract or include a valuable player to offset the money. In this deal, proposed by user kxw, adding Campusano instead of a lower-valued prospect like Weathers or Gore allows the Padres to receive an interesting player in Wisdom rather than just a fringe return.

Wisdom enjoyed a huge power breakout with Chicago in 2021, but he’s already 30 – in fact, he’s only nine months younger than Myers. A strikeout rate over 40% offsets the massive power, and leaves him with similar offensive production to Myers overall. But he’s owed just the league minimum this year and next and offers defensive versatility at both the infield and outfield corners.

Campusano is a tough player for San Diego to lose. He could be a special bat behind the plate with enough defense to stick. But his stock dropped in 2021, and by freeing the Padres from Myers’ contract, his inclusion allows them to add not only a solid bat in Wisdom, but also allows them to afford moves that address other areas of need.

For Chicago, Wisdom is found money. His age means he likely won’t be a part of the next great Cubs team. But they clearly aren’t planning on a full fire sale in 2022, as indicated by their additions of Marcus Stroman and Yan Gomes, so Myers could be seen as a welcome addition, helping out at first base or designated hitter. Campusano provides an alternative to injured top prospect Miguel Amaya, as well as a potential replacement if Willson Contreras is traded or walks in free agency. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Campusano and Gomes splitting time in August and September after a midseason deal.

Gallo at last

Yankees get:

Padres get:

RHP Chris Paddack

$17.4M

OF Joey Gallo

$15.3M

SS Hans Montero

$1.7M

Total:

$17.4M

Total:

$17.0M

This proposal, from user EHUM37, has Preller acquiring a fourth and final former Ranger, and one whom he has seemingly been enamored with for years: Joey Gallo. The outfielder disappointed after his midseason trade to New York, but would be a great fit for the Padres. While Grisham and Cronenworth are solid hitters, neither comes close to the left-handed power Gallo provides, and he even has the defensive chops to handle all three outfield positions. Projected to earn $9.5 million in his final year of arbitration, Gallo’s contract fits nicely into the budgetary hole left by Myers.

The second piece heading to the Padres can be negotiated, but Hans Montero seems like a Preller type. Preller has always been great at identifying international talent, both in international amateur free agency and in trades. Montero is the definition of a lottery ticket, a speedy teenaged infielder with some pedigree and projectability. An optionable MLB-ready reliever or outfielder would make sense here too, but Preller might jump at the opportunity to start restocking his farm with a prospect like this.

Paddack doesn’t really have a spot in San Diego, and he admittedly isn’t a perfect fit for New York, either. But the Yankees will only be able to get so much for one year of Gallo, and Paddack has mid-rotation upside or better. He could also be an effective multi-inning reliever, perhaps in a piggyback role with another top arm with relief risk, Luis Gil.

Those two moves alone have the Padres freeing up roughly $15 million in payroll, more than enough to sign an outfielder and an arm or two. Michael Conforto is the best fit; not yet 29 and coming off a down season, he has the potential to be the bargain buy of the offseason. But if demand pushes his price beyond San Diego’s range, other options include a Tommy Pham reunion, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson or Corey Dickerson.

Doesn’t Collin McHugh feel like a Padre? He was fantastic for the Rays in 2021, but at 35, might be limited to a one- or two-year deal. He’s likely the best late-inning relief option for San Diego, unless they’re willing to pay up for Kenley Jansen. Other options include Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, Joe Kelly and Chris Martin.

If the Padres end up needing to free up more cash, Caratini and his $2.1 million arbitration projection could still be moved. But doing so would leave the Padres without any real catching depth behind Nola and Alfaro. Caratini does have an option remaining and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hang onto him, and/or to sign a capable veteran backstop to a minor league deal.

Trading righty Dinelson Lamet ($2.5M) would also free up some room. Injuries have derailed what could have been an exciting career as a starter for Lamet. He’s projected to earn $4.5 million in his second year of arbitration, a bit of a high price for a likely reliever who struggled in 2021 and has trouble staying healthy. But if it clicks out of the bullpen, he has late-inning upside.

The Padres are stuck between a rock and a hard place. With payroll so tight, in order to add talent, the team will either need to attach significant prospect talent to Myers and/or Hosmer to offload their albatross contracts, or move likely 2022 contributors like Blake Snell or Yu Darvish in the hopes that their production can be replaced on the cheap. Given their place in the competitive cycle and the difficulty in catching Los Angeles, the former seems to make more sense. But this is AJ Preller we’re talking about. He lives to break our model. Maybe we just need to throw the numbers aside, sit back and watch him work his magic.

What do you think about this plan? What moves would you make instead? Which teams would you like to see revamped next? As always, feedback is more than welcome. And keep on submitting trade proposals – they just might end up featured in a later installment of this series.

 

About the Author

Joshua Iversen

Joshua Iversen

Associate Editor of baseballtradevalues.com
2 Comments
  1. Aaron Cruz

    The Padres have depth when it comes to catching and infield. That factor should guide Preller in his decision making. Cronenworth and campusano should be the players that he should trade in order to fill holes. these two positions (catcher and shortstop) are coveted by multiple teams. Cronenworth’s value should be used in order to acquire a top young outfielder (Marsh, O’Neill, Kiriloff), and a long term starting pitcher (Bachman, Hudson, Ryan).

    I would use Campusano as a way to create financial breathing room. My suggestion would be Campusano,Myers, and cash to the Rangers for Garcia.

    Lastly, Preller should sign Suzuki (back up plan is Conforto) and Hand.

  2. DB A

    I’m hard-pressed to see the Yankees trading Gallo for a guy who finished the season with a “slight UCL sprain” and a career HR/9>1.5.

    If the Padres are serious about keeping up with LAD, they should probably think about attaching Abrams to a bad contract and making space. Abrams plus Hosmer for Merrifield? SD gets another play-anywhere guy on the cheap for this window; KC brings back a hometown favorite and meaningfully upgrades the farm.

Submit a Comment