Three of the four players the A's and Padres exchanged today were arbitration eligible and today happens to be the deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration eligible players. Coincidence? I think not. The Padres have sent Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski to the A's and got back Drew Pomeranz, Jose Torres and a player to be named later or cash. Yonder Alonso, Marc Rzepczynski and Drew Pomeranz are all arbitration eligible. Certainly, the player with a clock ticking before today's deadline was Rzepczynski. A couple months ago, I discussed MLBTR's salary projections for arbitration eligible players and flagged the lefty reliever as a possible non-tender candidate. The other option would be to find a home for him with a team willing to pay his projected $3M salary. That's what the Padres did today.
But you don't want to talk about Rzepczynski. I think the headliner in this deal in Yonder Alonso going to the A's. He has been the Padres 1B for four years now and is one of the longest tenured active Padres players. I thought about including Alonso among the non-tender candidates, but he isn't as expendable as a Rzepcynski or a Will Middlebrooks, but I should have noted that he'd be on the trade block. In fact, it was rumored that he was on the block as of a month ago. His projected salary is only $2.5M, but another year as a starting 1B was only going to make it higher and that made now the right time to trade him while his cost is still palatable.
The Padres have likely soured on Alonso and rightly so. He's a solid hitter, but hasn't lived up to the hitting expectations that one might have for a major league 1B. He also has had trouble staying healthy. There are roster flexibility issues involved here as well. With Alonso on the roster, Wil Myers would seem ticketed for Justin Upton's old spot of LF. With Alonso dealt, Myers could slide to 1B or the Padres could bring in a new 1B. Whichever one they chose would allow them to add a player at either LF or 1B that would be an upgrade on Alonso. Or perhaps it just makes room for a younger player to move into the OF. Hunter Renfroe is getting close and can play LF. The Padres traded for Manuel Margot and added him to the 40. If he takes over CF some time this year then the Melvin Upton/Travis Jankowski platoon can move to LF with Myers at 1B. Derek Norris can also play some 1B. That flexibility is nice. However, the Padres do lose a left handed bat from a lineup that leans pretty far to the right and that is a definite concern.
Finally, let's get to the return for Rzepczynski and Alonso. That would be LHPs Drew Pomeranz and Jose Torres. Pomeranz played an interesting role for the Athletics last season. The former Indians 1st round pick moved between starting and relieving and was at least moderately successful at both. He does seem better suited for relief as he has been more successful there. He actually spent most of his relief innings working in the later innings and might be a quality addition to the back end of the Padres pen. However, it wouldn't surprise me to see new manager Andy Green give him a crack at a rotation that has a couple of open spots.
Jose Torres is a Venezuelan southpaw who pitched in A ball last year. He's by no means a top prospect even in a thinned out A's farm system. He converted fulltime to a relief role last year, but might be more than just a situational left hander. He should be ticketed for a stint with the Lake Elsinore Storm where he'd be a candidate to close games after saving 8 of them for the Beloit Snappers last season.
Overall, this seems like a trade of necessity that was worked out in the nick of time. The Padres wanted to find a decent return for Alonso and got back an arm that will help a pitching staff that needs a few more quality arms. They also got to dump Rzepczynski and gain a little bit of depth for the farm system. Works for me.