I've been thinking about all of potential additions for the Padres this offseason, and it seems there is a barrier at every corner. None of the offensive free agents are very appealing to the Padres, and the most attractive ones aren't the best fit. This has been explicitly stated by Fowler and Byrnes. Acquiring somebody like Stanton, Cargo, Cuddyer, Cespedes, Bautista or Encarnacion just seems unrealistic for all parties involved. The last thing I want to see the Padres do is overpay in prospects in order to make a "statement". Even if we were after a top of the rotation pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka is going to be outrageously expenesive due to every single team being interested in him. And don't you dare even bring up the idea of Andre Ethier becoming a Padre, cause that would be the Worst Thing Ever. Don't even mention the possibility.
Then there are the rumors of the Padres being interested in Mark Trumbo. We've discussed this possibility and it has mixed, albeit mostly positive reviews. It seems almost certain that the Padres would have to give up either Alonso, Venable or Denorfia plus a starting pitcher (maybe more) in order to get Trumbo via trade. That reality makes the trade seem even less appealing, cause I don't think we want to let any of those guys go right now, especially for someone like Trumbo.
We've all been brainstorming possible offseason acquisitions, and I keep coming back to the constant topic of the front office wanting and needing to make a "statement". And strangely enough, there really aren't many opportunities for this statement to be made in a smart manner with limited risk. And unfortunately, there isn't that perfect solution staring us in the face.
And considering all of the barriers at play, I think Trumbo's teammate Josh Hamilton just might be the best possible solution.
The Angels made the dire mistake of overloading their team with costly power hitters and not nearly enough effective pitchers. They're coming off a $141 million failure of a season and have a long list of contract commitments for the years to come. And Angels fans are clearly unhappy with these costly commitments & their lack of farm talent. The Angels are stuck with Albert Pujols. That is a fact. His contract is far too long & big, and they are in desperate need of pitching. But they might be able to get creative in dealing Josh Hamilton. This isn't very likely to happen, but the Padres are likely the best possible fit.
Before I get into why trading Josh Hamilton makes sense for both the Padres and the Angels, let's explore the biggest hurdle keeping this from happening. Josh Hamilton has a full no trade clause (and he was also given a luxury suite as part of his contract). Knowing this, it seems impossible that he would be able to get traded. But if both the Padres and the Angels got very creative, they could make this happen. San Diego is very close to the O.C. and Hamilton wouldn't even have to necessarily move. It would be an easy transition.
Here are my reasons why this trade makes sense for all parties involved:
- Josh Hamilton's contract might be huge, but it is not very long. He is signed for the next 4 years at a total of $106 million. I'm proposing that the Padres pick up the majority of this salary (hopefully they wouldn't have to get too creative like having to offer Hamilton a luxury box). If the Padres were responsible for most of this salary, the Angels would be pretty eager to make this happen. I think a theoretical deal of the Padres paying for $90 mill of this contract, plus giving the Angels Robbie Erlin & Burch Smith is a win-win for all parties involved.
- The Angels desperately need pitching, specifically young pitching, and we have quite a lot of minor league pitching depth. I would certainly consider Erlin & Smith expendable in a blockbuster trade like this.
- The Padres desperately need to make a BIG "statement", and acquiring Josh Hamilton is about as big as it gets (without selling too much of the farm). This would especially be a huge statement to the more casual San Diego fans, "fair weather" fans, etc. Josh Hamilton is a Big Name.
- If you think of this as a 4 year, $90 million free agency deal, it doesn't seem that bad. It's almost impossible to find a deal for an All Star player that is so short. Hamilton would only be signed through his age 36 season. He's coming off a down year, but he very well could easily bounce back, and we've seen players like Carlos Beltran and Michael Cuddyer thrive in their 30's. It's when players are signed into their late 30's that it starts getting very problematic.
- The Padres wouldn't have to get rid of any of their current offensive players. We have no idea what to expect from Maybin. Quentin is realistically going to only be good for 80-120 games. And injuries of some kind in the Outfield seem like a foregone conclusion. Considering all of these variables, an Outfield mix of Hamilton, Quentin, Maybin, Venable & Denorfia makes a ton of sense. Having this much high OF depth could be the key to our success. And besides, that's a nice looking batch of outfielders for Buddy to play with. We would likely have to part ways with Kyle Blanks, which seems like a distinct possibility anyways.
- Josh Hamilton is not very well-liked in Anaheim right now and could welcome the change & the fresh start. He also would have some teammates in Nick Hundley and Chase Headley who share his devout Christian belief. You never know, this could be a "deal breaker".
- The Angels get to free up quite a bit of money from their massive payroll, and they would simultaneously get two young pitchers with #3 potential and most likely #5 reliability right now. This especially makes sense considering the high price tag for free agent pitchers.
- Contracts are only increasing every single year, and $90 million over 4 years isn't that bad in today's market.
- The Padres could then go out and get themselves a 1 year Starting Pitcher free agent (to ease the burden of losing Erlin & Smith), whether it be Roy Halladay or Clayton Richard, etc.
- The Padres would likely be contenders in 2014 and with the help of a great farm system, we should be a contending team for a good time to come.
This obviously is a major gamble (isn't every baseball decision), but we wouldn't have to commit to a player for 6-7 years and we wouldn't have to give up any top-tier prospects. I don't see Hamilton regressing from his down season of 2013. I see those numbers likely become the norm with the serious potential of his numbers improving.
Think of the many lineup possibilities the Pads could have with Hamilton in the mix. It makes me excited.
Your thoughts? Bring some advanced stats to the table, make some prognostications, make me laugh, tell me I'm crazy, let's have some fun. God, I hate the offseason.