In what was expected to be an exciting trade deadline, the Padres made a surprisingly small number of trades. Zero, to be precise.
Yes, one might argue that the trade with Kansas City a week ago would count as a “trade deadline” deal, and while this may technically be true, it certainly doesn’t feel like it right now. Instead of digging through data to learn about exciting new prospects that may never play a fraction of the major league innings that Brad Hand has played, we’re left with… well, Brad Hand, among others.
Much was written about Hand being Andrew Miller-esque, which would’ve led many to believe that San Diego would get a similar, though smaller, return for the reliever picked up from waivers last April. Jhoulys Chacín, who is a free agent at the end of the year, had put together some decent starts and looked like a piece a contender might want to solidify the back of the rotation. The Padres even made sure to have Yangervis Solarte in the lineup yesterday, recovering from an oblique injury just in time for the deadline.
Instead, amongst a flurry of eleventh hour trades, the Padres stayed put.
padres asks seem pretty reasonable on hand. not demanding huge prospect. but still working. 2 years before he's a free agent, so could keep.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 31, 2017
Sources: #Padres remain firm on price for Brad Hand. One interested club says SD “overreaching.” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2017
While it seems like there were plenty of teams in the market for bullpen help, none were apparently able to make an offer that GM A.J. Preller was satisfied with. Following along on Twitter, there didn’t appear to be much of a market for Chacín, Solarte, or any other current Friars.
Instead of ponying up for Hand or Baltimore Orioles reliever Zach Britton, contenders seemed content with hitting the bargain bin. The Boston Red Sox traded a trio of prospects (nos. 18, 23, and 28 in the system) for San Diego State alum and closer Addison Reed (2.57 ERA, 19 for 21 in save opportunities, 8.8 K/9), and the Chicago Cubs acquired Justin Wilson (2.68 ERA, 13 for 15 in save opportunities, 12.3 K/9) and catcher Alex Avila for a three prospect package that included Jeimer Candelario (no.1 prospect), their no. 10 prospect, and a player to be named. The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to hold on to their top prospects, getting Tony Watson from the Pittsburgh Pirates for their no.21 prospect and an unranked one, as well as Tony Cingriani from the Cincinnati Reds for Scott Van Slyke and an unranked prospect. They did part with no. 4 prospect Willie Calhoun, no. 17 A.J. Alexy, and no. 27 Brendon Davis to get Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers.
What does all of this mean for the Padres?
Well, it shows that, despite Hand’s dominance this year (2.00 ERA, 6 for 9 in save opportunities, 11.7 K/9), he likely lacks the track record of a veteran like Britton, and thus commanded a return that was less than the Padres thought they could get at a later date.
I mean, it has to mean that, otherwise they would’ve traded him, right?
Preller has been faced with this type of decision before. If you can remember way back to 2015, it was reported that Justin Upton (who was set to be a free agent at the end of the year) had garnered some interest from the New York Mets, with a young prospect named Michael Fulmer being offered up in return. Preller balked at the deal, and Fulmer was traded to Detroit for Yoenis Céspedes. The next season, Fulmer was named as the Rookie of the Year, and earned a spot on the All-Star team this season.
If there’s one thing you can say about Preller, it’s that he seems pretty stubborn, and holds firm to the value he believes he should get for his players. This can be seen as a virtue (e.g. the Craig Kimbrel trade to Boston, which netted Manuel Margot, Carlos Asuaje, Logan Allen, and Javier Guerra), though it can also backfire, in the instances of Upton and Tyson Ross (injury). To be fair, they got a draft pick when Upton and Ian Kennedy walked, at the end of the 2015 season, and they used them to select Hudson Potts and Eric Lauer, so there’s still a technically a chance they could turn into something better than Fulmer).
What is Hand’s Value Moving Forward?
Assuming that Hand’s lack of a track record was an issue with some teams, continuing to have a dominant season for the rest of 2017 would certainly give a boost his value for the offseason. Since teams seem more likely to overpay at the deadline, the next highest time to sell may be this time next year. Waiting until then, however, does have it’s downsides, like injury or regression.
To those that worry that Hand is Ross 2.0 and that he’s certain to be injured, well… I don’t have much for you. For what’s it’s worth, I haven’t heard much talk about his delivery being too dangerous to use (like I did with Ross). He does throw a bunch of sliders, though, and that will make me nervous for a while.
For those that think Hand can be Kimbrel 2.0, well.. sign me up for that! That sounds great! I’m just not sure an extra two months dominant pitching ups his value much higher than it is right now, especially when it’s possible to find bullpen gems from other sources (e.g. free agency or the waiver wire that Hand was picked from).
The Short Term Outlook
The Padres are currently getting out-tanked by non-tanking teams, having a better record than the Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, and Oakland Athletics. It’d be easy to believe that the players who would replace Hand and Chacín (and maybe Solarte) if they had been traded would be significant downgrades, and would help further the tank. With both seemingly on the roster (though, here’s the obligatory mention that they could still be moved in August), it looks like they’ll be able to help add a win or two, which could negatively effect the Padres draft position and pool money in 2018.
I still think it’s likely that Kyle Lloyd and Michael Kelly get the chance to make a few starts so the Padres can see what kind of value they have moving forward. Still, despite sporting the worst run differential in the league (-133), the chances they aren’t bottom-five are increased because of Hand and Chacín. While it might be slightly more fun to watch (I’ll be honest, I’m not one of those who enjoys watching the Padres lose), ultimately we might just end up praying that nothing happens to Hand’s arm between now and the end of the season, and hope that he can be dealt there for a package that suits him better.