Analyzing the San Diego Padres' Trading Through the Years: Part 1
It's no secret that teams like the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays are often big players in the trade market. Much has been made of these “smart teams” using the trade market to construct a roster grounded in advanced metrics and platoon splits, but little has been made of the trade-happy Padres.
Is this because the Padres have been stuck in mediocrity for a few years while the Athletics and Rays have been ballin’ on a budget? While their roster composed of trade imports is not likely to bring a ring to San Diego this year, it's still worth examining to see if the Padres have been one of the more savvy teams in the trade market.
This piece will examine each of the trades resulting in the acquisitions of 18 members of their current 40-man roster. This isn't an entirely fair exercise, as predicting baseball is sometimes really hard, and trades are most fairly evaluated at the time that they are made. But there is a benefit to taking a retrospective look at these deals. Additionally, this exercise omits trades that did not result in acquisitions of players currently on the 40-man roster, which have minimal relevance to our question at hand.
In this exercise, I will evaluate these trades in chronological order and assign a grade to each of them based on how the trades look today. Part 1 of this series, found below, examines three trades made by former GM Jed Hoyer. Part 2 of this series, which will be released tomorrow, will examine seven trades made by current GM Josh Byrnes.
Trade 1: Padres trade RHP Ryan Webb and RHP Edward Mujica to the Florida Marlins in exchange for OF Cameron Maybin
This Cameron Maybin trade was a bit smaller than the previous trade, sending the toolsy outfielder from the Tigers to the Marlins, and unlike the blockbuster, this looks like a win for the team acquiring Maybin.
Right-hander Ryan Webb provided three years of quality right-handed middle relief work for the Marlins, compiling 2.3 WAR over his three years in South Beach before being non-tendered following the 2013 campaign. Fellow righty Edward Mujica outdid his former teammate by providing the Fish with 2.9 WAR over a year and a half before being used as trade bait at the 2012 deadline. The former setup man blossomed into an elite closer in St. Louis for most of 2013 because that’s what happens to guys getting traded to the Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Marlins acquired 3B prospect Zack Cox who has seen his stock fall since the trade.
More importantly, Maybin has been able to translate some of his tools into production as he has blossomed into a solid regular posting a total of 6.7 WAR over the past three years. His hit tool, or rather lack thereof, has always and will always limit his ceiling, but Maybin still plays great defense, has plus speed and occasional pop. He signed a team-friendly extension and is under team control through 2017.
For a non-contending team like the Padres, any trade that can turn a few middle relievers into an exciting young player should be considered a win. This was a great trade for them and gives them a solid center fielder for the foreseeable future.
Trade 2: Padres trade 1B Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for 1B Prospect Anthony Rizzo, RHP Prospect Casey Kelly, OF Prospect Reymond Fuentes, and UT Eric Patterson
Ah, the lesser-known blockbuster deal involving Adrian Gonzalez getting sent to a contender. At the time, Gonzalez was one of baseball’s most feared sluggers and in his prime, so it made sense for a non-contender like the Padres to trade him for two premium prospects in Rizzo and Kelly and another solid piece in Fuentes.
Gonzalez was everything the Sox had hoped for upon trading for him, but was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August of 2012 as the Sox fell out of the pennant race and looked to shed payroll.
The return for their slugger looked better back then than it does today, as the top prospect in the deal at the time, right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly, has battled injuries - including Tommy John surgery - since the trade. Kelly remains in the middle of most Padres’ top ten prospect lists, but his stock has slipped significantly during his time in the Padres organization.
Anthony Rizzo, long a favorite of Hoyer’s, turned out to be the most significant piece in the deal for the Padres. The young slugger experienced some ups and downs with the Friars before following Hoyer to Chicago in a future trade. Rizzo is still young and has not reached his lofty potential, but he is currently an above average regular with the potential for stardom.
Reymond Fuentes has fallen off of most top-10 prospect lists in San Diego, but remains under team control and should contribute to the parent club, likely in a reserve role. Utility man Eric Patterson spent a year with the Padres before leaving the league. He now plays for the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League, the rival of my hometown independent ball team, the Lancaster Barnstormers.
This is a classic trade between a win-now team and a rebuilding team that can often help both sides, but it appears that the Red Sox got the better of this deal. The concept was very good for Hoyer and the Padres, but the lack of any sort of useful contribution from Casey Kelly thus far really limits the positives for San Diego. If we revisit this trade a year from now and the Padres get a useful contribution from Kelly, the grade could rise.
Trade 3: Padres trade RHP Mike Adams to the Texas Rangers in exchange for LHP Prospect Robbie Erlin and RHP Prospect Joe Wieland
This is a typical Padres trade in the sense that it involves them dealing from their typically deep bullpen to address an area of greater concern. I often love these types of trades, as bullpen guys are not as difficult to find as quality players at other positions.
In this deal, the Padres dealt dominant setup man Mike Adams to Texas at the 2011 trade deadline, where Adams continued to be dominant. He was an integral part of the Texas bullpen during their World Series run that year, and had another solid season in 2012 before departing via free agency.
In return, the Padres received a pair of prospects with back-end rotation potential in Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland. Erlin, armed with a below average fastball, pitchability and command, is not only one of my favorite pitchers to watch but has earned a spot in the Friars’ rotation this season. However, the same attributes that make him a fun pitcher to watch, namely his minuscule margin for error with his below average stuff, also give him an incredibly low ceiling.
The other player the Padres received, pitcher Joe Wieland, is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. Even when healthy, Wieland lacks premium upside and is now considered a fringe prospect.
While the concept of dealing Mike Adams at the 2011 deadline was a good one, I would have preferred the Padres to seek someone with a bit more upside than two pitchers with ceilings in the back end of a rotation. Back end starters on team-friendly deals are certainly useful assets, but Erlin and Wieland border on replacement level.
This series will be continued tomorrow where I will examine seven trades made by current Padres' GM Josh Byrnes.