Analyzing the San Diego Padres' Trading Through the Years: Part 2
Part 1 of this two part series was released yesterday and examined three trades made by former GM Josh Byrnes that resulted in acquisitions of players currently on the Padres' 40-man roster.
In today's piece, Part 2, we perform the same exercise for seven trades made by current Padres' GM Josh Byrnes.
This is explained in greater detail in the intro to Part One, which I recommend reading prior to this piece, but in short, the reason for this exercise is to see why the Padres make so many trades. 18 of the 40 members of the Padres' 40-man roster were acquired via trade, so I am curious to see if there is a significant reason for this. Are the Padres the next "smart team" or do they simply like to trade for the sake of trading?
Trade 4: Padres trade RHP Prospect Simon Castro and LHP Prospect Pedro Hernandez to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for OF Carlos Quentin
The first trade on this list in the Josh Byrnes era was different than the previous three as the Padres were buyers not sellers. It was well known that the White Sox were looking to move Carlos Quentin and his $8 million dollar contract, so this trade essentially turned into the Padres deeming that Quentin was worth the $8 million and offering to take him off of their hands.
Quentin had a decent year in 2012, posting 1.6 WAR, which led to a contract extension with the club he remains with today. The slugger has battled injuries during his career, but when healthy he is a solid regular and offers some pop to the Friars’ lineup.
In exchange, the Padres sent two fringe pitching prospects to Chicago, neither of whom found success. Both Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez have debuted in the show, were unable to stick, and were eventually released. Both signed free agent deals with the Rockies and are now pitching in their farm system.
This trade is more about finances than personnel, as all parties knew that the Padres were receiving substantially more talent than the Sox in this deal. In retrospect, Quentin has proved to be worth not only the $8 million in 2012 but a contract extension. A solid regular for the price of two fringe prospects that did not make it? This is a win for the Padres.
Trade 5: Padres trade RHP Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for 1B Yonder Alonso, C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Edinson Volquez, and RHP Prospect Brad Boxberger
While many sellers choose to wait until their stars have limited team control remaining, the Padres demonstrated the benefits of selling a star with substantial team control remaining. While one or two years of Mat Latos would have fetched a stellar return, four years of his services at arbitration prices fetched substantially more.
Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal were the headliners of this deal, and both are currently regulars in the San Diego lineup. Alonso has been solid but very unspectacular, while Grandal has substantial upside that he has yet to fulfill. A 50-game suspension and timeshares have delayed his breakout, but it could come as soon as this season.
Edinson Volquez was acquired to replace Latos in the rotation at the time and was seen as a boom or bust type of player. Unfortunately for the Padres, Volquez was the latter and was released with money left on his contract after a year and a half with the organization. Brad Boxberger was a relief prospect with upside and was later included in another trade to land an even better reliever.
Meanwhile, Latos has established himself as a premier arm capable of pitching near the top of a rotation for a contender, but has battled injuries thus far this season. A solid number two starter, Latos remains under team control for the Reds through next season.
Was this the right move for the Padres? Are Grandal and Alonso good enough to justify surrendering a number two starter, or would the Padres have been better off holding on to Latos? This seemed like the right move at the time, but the Padres have received little impact from this trade thus far. A potential breakout from Grandal will have a significant effect on the grade of this deal in the coming years, but for now the Padres appear to have come up a bit short on this trade, especially considering they had Latos for another four years.
Trade 6: Padres trade LHP Prospect Nick Schmidt to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Reliever Huston Street.
The Padres must have found Kendrick’s money trees, as this is another trade where the Friars are on the receiving end of a salary dump. This time, the Padres took reliever Huston Street off of the Rockies’ hands for the mere cost of fringe prospect Nick Schmidt, who was included as a player to be named later.
Street’s $7.5 million salary (the Padres were responsible for $6.5 million) for the 2012 season was a bit hefty for a reliever with a mid-3’s ERA, but the move from the worst pitchers park in the league to the best pitchers park in the league helped him immensely. A 2012 All Star, Street has compiled a 2.35 ERA and 56 saves during his first two seasons in San Diego.
Schmidt, the player to be named later, showed why players to be named later are typically not extremely useful players. He continues to bounce around in AAA while Street remains the closer in San Diego and is under team control through next season.
Like the Quentin deal, the Padres acquired a solid player on a fair contract for essentially nothing, which is a huge win. The Rockies certainly didn’t expect Street to improve so much with the move, but no matter how you frame it, this is still a win for San Diego.
Trade 7: Padres trade 1B Anthony Rizzo and RHP Prospect Zach Cates to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for RHP Andrew Cashner and OF Prospect Kyung-Min Na
Jed Hoyer’s love affair with Anthony Rizzo continues with this trade, as the first baseman followed the executive to a new club once more. Rizzo had seen time with the parent club in Chicago but it was a limited sample in which the slugger was underwhelming. Following the trade, Rizzo was able to earn extended playing time in Chicago, where he continues to start and provide solid value. Rizzo was extended by Chicago and remains their long-term answer at first base.
In exchange, the Padres received righthander Andrew Cashner, who spent most of 2012 in the bullpen before making a permanent move to the rotation in 2013. His numbers have improved every year and he now appears to have blossomed into a solid number two starter.
Despite a poor 2-5 record, Cashner has posted the best numbers of his career in 2014, as his 2.86 ERA is supported by a 2.93 FIP. His K and BB numbers are not spectacular, but his power two seamer is extremely difficult to square up, let alone hit out of PETCO Park, so Cashner’s home run remains extremely low.
Neither of the other players are worth examining in detail. Cates remains in the low minors and is not highly regarded as a prospect while Na has since been released.
This was also an example of trading from a strength to address a weakness for San Diego. They had recently acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Reds in the Latos deal, whom they felt was a better fit for their spacious home park, making Rizzo expendable.
It seems a bit early to make a final judgment on this trade, as Rizzo has established himself as a solid first baseman in Chicago while Cashner is emerging as an above average starting pitcher. This grade could change significantly within the next few years.
Trade 8: Padres trade RHP Ernesto Frieri to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for INF/OF Alexi Amarista and RHP Prospect Donn Roach
A lesser-known name at the time, Ernesto Frieri went from the middle of the Padres bullpen to the very back of the Angels bullpen with this trade. He has endured his ups and downs since then, but entered this season as the closer in Anaheim and looks to regain that role shortly. Frieri is not an elite closer and likely would not have ever closed in San Diego due to the presence of Huston Street, but was still a valuable reliever for the Padres.
In return, the Padres received a mid-range prospect in Alexi Amarista and a low-level prospect in righthander Donn Roach. Amarista has found sufficient playing time as a supersub, but his contributions have not been positive, as he has cost the Padres 0.3 wins since the trade. Roach, meanwhile, has recently debuted but is a slightly below average middle reliever at best.
This trade boils down to a quality reliever in exchange for a utility player and a near replacement level reliever. Amarista is a great guy to have on the bench because he can play so many positions, but it would be preferable if he could improve on his meager .225/.273/.341 career slash line. While the concept of a non-contender dealing from the bullpen to address a more pressing need is a good one, Amarista’s poor numbers and Roach’s limited upside make this a loss for San Diego.
Trade 9: Padres trade INF Andy Parrino and LHP Andrew Werner to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for RHP Tyson Ross and 1B Prospect A.J. Kirby-Jones
One of the less significant trades on this list, Tyson Ross was the only player from this deal to make any sort of impact with his new club. The righty fell out of the crowded rotation in Oakland but was a welcome addition to the Padres, as the back-end starter was quickly inserted in the Friars rotation and has remained there ever since.
Both Andy Parrino and Andrew Werner have debuted in the show but neither player has been able to stick. Instead, they find themselves bouncing around AAA and trying to avoid the label of “replacement level.” A.J. Kirby-Jones has a plus-plus name but is an organizational guy at best.
This trade is a huge win for the Padres, as they acquired a useful starting pitcher for two spare parts. Ross is no star, but he did not have to be for the Padres to win this trade.
Trade 10: Padres trade LHP Joe Thatcher, RHP Prospect Matt Stites, and a Draft Pick to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Ian Kennedy
As was the case with the previous trade, the Padres took on a starting pitcher who had fallen out of favor with his prior team. In this deal, the Padres acquired the inconsistent Ian Kennedy from the Diamondbacks in exchange for a collection of moderately valuable spare parts.
After finishing fourth in 2011 NL Cy Young Award Voting, Kennedy regressed in 2012 but was still about an average starting pitcher. In 2013, the regression continued as Kennedy posted a 5.73 ERA over 21 starts with the Snakes before being dealt to San Diego. Kennedy continued to struggle in 2013 but through eight starts this year, the righthander has posted a 3.12 ERA backed by a 2.32 FIP, solidifying his spot in the rotation in the short term. He is under team control through next season
Lefty reliever Joe Thatcher was the only Major League talent surrendered by the Padres in the deal, but he is merely average at best and will be a free agent after this season. Pitching prospect Matt Stites is on the cusp of the Major Leagues and should carve out a career in the middle of the Diamondbacks bullpen. He will not be a star, but Stites is young, cost controlled, and talented. The draft pick is in Competitive Balance Round B, which is between the second and third rounds meaning that it has value but is not a huge loss for San Diego.
This was a rare trade between a contender, the Diamondbacks, and a noncontender, the Padres, that involved prospects (both in the form of a pick and a minor leaguer) being dealt to the contending team. The reasoning from the perspective of the Diamondbacks was to fill their need of a situational lefty in the bullpen and improve their farm system by dealing a pitcher they did not need, while the Padres saw it as an opportunity to acquire a starting pitcher with proven top of the rotation upside.
Too Early to Tell: 2014 Offseason
3. Padres trade INF Logan Forsythe, RHP Brad Boxberger, INF Prospect Maxx Tissenbaum, RHP Prospect Matt Andriese, and RHP Prospect Matt Lollis to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for LHP Alex Torres and RHP Prospect Jesse Hahn
What is the reasoning behind all of these trades? Are the Padres just really good at trading and thus do it extremely often? Are the Padres the next “smart team” like the Athletics or Rays that are simply better at evaluating players than everyone else? Unfortunately for Padres fans, this doesn't appear to be the case.
Instead, the Padres have made lots of trades because they have not been contenders for a few years, thus they have been either selling, such as in the case of the Latos and Adrian Gonzalez trades, or taking on unwanted players from other teams, such as in the Quentin and Street deals.
They have been somewhat successful in these trades with more wins than losses, but they have been unable to take the next step and turn their collection of trade acquisitions into a winning ball club. They have some of the pieces in place, but the few losses they have experienced in trades, such as the Adrian Gonzalez deal, have significantly hurt the club’s short and long term chances.
What is next? Chase Headley has long been rumored to be available in trade, but a potential return for Headley will be diminished as he continues to battle injuries and ineffectiveness, the second half of 2012 aside.
Closer Huston Street would be another logical trade chip, as the Padres signed former Tigers’ closer Joaquin Benoit this offseason to a two-year deal. Quality relievers are always in high demand at the deadline, so it would make sense to at least see what is available in exchange for Street.
The bottom line is that, while trades are fun, the Padres have not exactly thrived through the trade market. They have won more trades on this list than they have lost, but when it is all said and done, the Padres have not yet been able to shed their current label as a mediocre team.