In an out-of-the-blue deal, the Padres have sent relievers Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter along with starter Trevor Cahill to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for starter Matt Strahm, reliever Travis Wood, and 18 year-old 2B/SS Esteury Ruiz.
Matt Strahm is a 25 year old SP drafted in the 21st round of the 2012 MLB draft out of Neosho County Community College (Chanute, KS). He made his MLB debut last year with the Royals, throwing 22 innings of relief with a 1.23 ERA. However, the Royals (and presumably the Padres) think Strahm is starter-caliber, as he threw over 100IP in Double-A last year with a 3.43 ERA and over a strikeout and inning. Strahm has struggled thus far in the big leagues this year, but has plenty of time to work on his stuff and command. However, Strahm is not going to pitch this year, as the Royals put him on the 60-Day DL for left-knee inflammation in the beginning of July and he just underwent season-ending surgery for it. On a positive note, Fangraphs had Strahm ranked the 72nd prospect in the game before 2017, with good command of the fastball and a potential plus-plus curve. At the very least, Strahm will be a decent reliever, but the Padres have the space and the time for him to get a real shot at being a MLB starting pitcher, and a quality one at that. This is a classic buy-low move, and one that may pay off with a quality, cheap, and young SP.
Travis Wood is a 30-year-old left-handed relief pitcher who spent the 7 previous years with the Cubs and the Reds. Last year, he had a 2.95 ERA in 61IP for the Cubs, but only a 6.9K/9IP rate. He signed a big contract with the Royals this year for 2 years and $12M. The Royals are paying for nearly all of Wood’s contract though, for the rest of this year and the entirety of next. The Padres also likely see Wood as a reclamation project, and if he turns out decent, is only a cherry on top.
The final piece is Esteury Ruiz, a young Domincan 2B/SS that excites many talent evaluators. As Ben Badler tweeted, “I love the Esteury Ruiz pickup for the Padres. Middle infielder with big-time hit and power potential.” Odds are the Padres view Ruiz the true prize in the trade, and seeing the modest value in Wood and Strahm, the Royals also agree. The best case scenario is that Ruiz turns into another Fernando Tatis Jr. for us – a scouting coup by Preller who made a name for himself in international and amateur scouting.
All in all, this trade might seem like a modest return for Buchter, Maurer, and Cahill. However, when we consider Cahill’s limited value due to his contract and injury history, Maurer’s struggles this year, and Buchter’s inherent volatility due to being an older FB-reliant relief pitcher, this deal starts to make more and more sense for the Padres.