The former first-round pick was a key cog in ex-GM Jed Hoyer's signature Adrian Gonzalez trade. This was of course before Hoyer's epic heel turn where he
betrayed the White Council and aligned with Sauron bolted for a cushy big-market GM job. Reymond Fuentes is also Carlos Beltran's first cousin, which along with typical Red Sox prospect hype ("he's got a retaahded good swing"), built an expectation for the speedy Puerto Rican that he never quite lived up to.
Like the overly-polished G-body Buick in your neighbor's driveway, Rey Mysterio Fuentes' best asset has always been his wheels. The former sprinter was never a natural defender in center field, but he has worked hard on plying is craft in center and certainly looked to be at least a passable defender with room to improve. With very little power and occasionally spotty strike zone management, Fuentes will have to make strides as either a hitter or defender to stick on a big league roster. Tony Gwynn Jr. was similarly underwhelming as a center fielder at the beginning of his time with the Padres, but he steadily re-invented himself into one of the game's elite defenders - carving out a role as a defensive specialist who hit just enough to be a useful piece on a winning team.
Heading into the offseason Fuentes was probably third on the Padres center field depth chart behind the oft-injured Cam Maybin and the consistently inconsistent Will Venable. If the Padres had stayed the course there would probably have been some opportunities for Fuentes to get a few at-bats, but not the kind of consistent playing time that would help groom a future everyday player. It would be nice to have Fuentes riding the shuttle back and forth from AAA as needed in 2015, but two factors make that difficult:
Fuentes needed a spot on the 40-man roster in order to be shielded from the Rule V draft. As a prospect entering his age-24 season and the present ability to fill in as a Major League roleplayer, there is a good chance that a team would have snapped him up and chanced keeping him on their big league roster. If he develops into a quality big leaguer, the GM who picks him up would be even more smug and annoying than the guy in your fantasy league who has been stashing Josh Gordon all year long. With the Padres looking to do some major roster reconstruction in the offseason, 40-man slots are currently at a premium. The Padres need everyday players and it doesn't make sense to pour resources into trying to develop Fuentes as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
The Padres were likely to lose Fuentes to a competitor in the Rule V draft, so getting some return for him via trade is a preferable outcome to letting him go for nothing.
A Fresh Start
When you get involved with a girl things can get serious faster than you think Before you know it you're leaving sweatpants at her place. The thing is, your sweatpants can't peacefully coexist with another guy's sweatpants. Wars have been fought over less. Fuentes is a relic of a past administration - two GMs ago. The trade that brought him to San Diego is still a touchy subject for some Padres fans - like the time I asked Andrea to prom and she no-showed which I am totally not bitter about.
Well-run organizations tend to take on the characteristics of their leadership. While moving peripheral pieces that may never make a big league impact might seem inconsequential, the minor moves and role players that surround an organization are also an important part of a team's makeup. The best teams and organizations conform to a cohesive philosophy from top to bottom. An old GM's prize may be a square peg going into a new GM's round hole.
As reported by Grantland, Fuentes is part of one of the longest active transaction trees on any team.
There isn't much we know yet about Kyle Bartsch. The 2013 7th round draft pick hasn't put together a huge body of work yet, but his early returns have been encouraging. The 23 year old lefty reliever has amatuer and professional experience closing ballgames and pitching in high leverage situations. He shows no major platoon split and his k:bb ratio has been better than 4:1 as a pro. Though not much of a "prospect" per se (he will be 24 next season and has yet to even taste AA), it will be interesting to watch his development. Bartsch is a flyer at this point and doesn't represent a tremendous amount of upside, but he told me he would make the majors: