Featured

Will Small Moves Yield Big Results For Padres?

The Chris Denorfia bobblehead from 2014 – a supposed stadium giveaway that never happened because he was traded at the deadline.

Anybody up for another hypothetical Brad Hand trade post?

Sorry, I’ll spare you for now (though I reserve the right to post one at a later date), but chances are, if you are a Padres fan with a pulse, you’ve seen the rumors, articles, and tweets detailing possible landing spots for the lone San Diego All-Star, and (more importantly) what A.J. Preller could get in return.

While whatever deal Hand is involved with will undoubtedly bring back the most valuable return, there are still plenty of lesser pieces that can be dealt.  Starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Jhoulys Chacín could garner some interest, while the bullpen has Ryan Buchter, Brandon Maurer, and Kirby Yates.  But are these (potential, hypothetical) moves worth getting excited about?  Would the return be so marginal that it might not even be worth doing?

Let’s jump into the wayback machine:

It’s 2014, and the Padres were midway through another pointlessly mediocre season.  They were buoyed by some impressive starting pitching but had a historically bad offense, and it was getting more difficult to justify staying up til midnight (reminder that I live in Texas) to watch the current brand of baseball.

Aside from the occasional Andrew Cashner gem (yes, he had those in 2014), my main reason for watching the Padres was Chris Denorfia.

I don’t know why I get attached to players like Denorfia, but I just loved watching him play.  Grit, hustle, blah blah blah, I just dug him. However, 2014 was the worst year of Deno’s career in San Diego, as he posted a feeble .612 OPS (a full 140 points lower than his OPS for his previous four seasons combined).  At the deadline, most of the team was on the move.  Here’s a look down memory lane at the top bWAR producers of that season.  Notice all the different hats they’re wearing now.

Courtesy of Baseball Reference.

From the screenshot above, only Huston Street and Chase Headley were dealt at the deadline (though they’d all eventually be traded or sign elsewhere).  And, unfortunately for me, my man Norf was sent off to Seattle, to what seemed like a possible playoff contender (Narrator’s voice: “They were not.”)

At the time, I was heartbroken.  I had been arguing for weeks on Twitter (since I enjoy wasting time) that there was no reason to trade Denorfia.  1) He was a fan favorite (which may have been a slight exaggeration). 2) He wasn’t actually good, so what kind of return would we get anyways? And 3) Uh, didn’t you see my first point?

Unfortunately, my cries into the void were unheard, and I was left to deal with my feelings of abandonment, and  Abraham Almonte, the return from the Mariners.  Almonte would go on to accumulate 0.4 WAR in his brief 63 game Padre career, and would be shipped off to the Cleveland Indians for Mark Rzepczynski the next trade deadline.

Long story short, Rzepczynski and his 7.36 ERA was shipped to Oakland in the offseason with (gulp) Yonder Alonso in exchange for Drew Pomeranz, José Torres, and Jabari Blash.  Pomeranz had an All-Star worthy first half and was promptly traded for a Top 20 in all MLB prospect in Anderson Espinoza.

In just a few short years, what I had believed to be a minuscule trade had in fact blossomed into something noteworthy and important!  My heartbreak hadn’t been for naught!  The Padres may have done something right!  The point is, you never know.  With the Padres playing the long game, some of those smaller trades may lead to something big.

Not all the trades will result in a big-name prospect like Espinoza, but players like Hansel Rodriguez (Melvin Upton Jr. trade) and Jean Cosme (Odrisamer Despaigne trade) could turn into something.  Yangervis Solarte (Headley trade) wasn’t looked at as a big future piece, and he’s been a pleasant surprise.  And who knows, José Rondon (Street trade) could still be a major league piece down the road.

So, should we get excited about Brad Hand’s trade value?  Of course.  Be sure to bid him adieu, because the over/under on how many games he’ll see as a Padre after the All-Star break has to be low.  But don’t get too broken up if Buchter, Yates, or any other gritty, lovable Padre is dealt. Even though the return might not seem like much, the window the Padres are aiming for is still a few years off, and there’s time for that lottery ticket to pay off (or be traded for another ticket).