With the trade deadline looming, it’s important to know which players are potentially being shopped from the Padres’ roster and what value they might have to prospective teams. Yesterday I ran down the position players drawing interest on the market. Today let’s take a look at the pitchers that the Padres might consider trading.
Andrew Cashner: Coming in to the 2015 season, many of us saw Cashner’s potential as the highest among the Padres’ starting pitchers. His stuff has never been drawn into question, and when he’s on his game, he can be absolutely dominant. Somehow, he fell off in 2015 and didn’t right the ship through the first half of the 2016 season. He’s been a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde pitcher this year, giving up three earned runs or less in all but two of his starts. It seems that one bad turn will derail an inning and turn an otherwise quality outing into an adventure. Still, his most recent start (6.0IP, 1ER, 9K’s. 0BB’s) shows promise. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Padres have gotten a surprising amount of interest in him. Since he’s in the final year of arbitration, he’s viewed as a rental for potential suitors. If the Padres keep him, they may be faced with the option of offering him a qualifying offer similar to Ian Kennedy’s position last fall. Most contenders would love a power arm like Cashner in the back of their rotation, but he comes with the added experience of relieving and even closing early in his career, so he may be perceived as a more versatile target to some. Reports have hinted that Miami and Texas have shown interest.
Tyson Ross: Even though Ross started the 2016 season hurt and has been on the DL with shoulder issues since his one and only start, there’s still reason for teams to be interested in his services. He’s close to making a return to the mound, so he may be able to contribute down the stretch. With another year of arbitration ahead of him, his lack of production in 2016 will make him more affordable next season. The undeniable ace of the Padres’ staff last year, Ross was seen as one of the brightest young pitchers in the game before his injury last spring. While it’s unlikely he’ll get moved any time soon, he could still be targeted once he proves his health.
Ryan Buchter: Perhaps the brightest surprise in the 2016 bullpen, Buchter has been absolutely dominant for the Padres. He seems entrenched as the 8th inning setup man. His power lefty fastball-slider profile has baffled both righties and lefties, holding RHB’s to a .198 average, and LHB’s to an even better .132 average this year. His rookie status is still intact, so years of team control only add to his value. The Padres may be well served to keep him to stabilize the bullpen for the next few years, but he might be a sell-high candidate now.
Brad Hand: Another surprising lefty reliever, Hand came to the Padres with more MLB experience than Buchter. Through his five years of MLB experience in the Marlins organization, he was used as a starter as well as a swingman. With the crunch on starting pitching looming over the Padres, he may be an option to start going forward. 2017 will be his first year of arbitration, so he’s another case where team control plays a factor in his perceived value.
Kevin Quackenbush: The Padres’ longest-tenured bullpen member was once viewed as a potential closer candidate, but he’s been best used in a setup role. 2015 was a shaky season to put it kindly, but he seems to be back on track after a rough April. Still a year away from arbitration, strong bullpen arms are always in demand as teams position themselves for the postseason.
Brandon Maurer: Last spring, Maurer was a strong candidate for the starting rotation. After a few starts, he clearly wasn’t ready for the role. He started the 2016 campaign rough, but like Quackenbush, he’s settled into a groove. Since taking over closing duties on July 1, he’s only given up one earned run in six appearances, holding batters to a .182 average. Also entering his first year of arbitration, there’s value in control.
Carlos Villanueva: The veteran righty has worked out of the bullpen for most of his career but has experience starting with Milwaukee. He’s been roughed up plenty of times this year, but teams seem to value his experience and his character. Playing on a one-year, $1.5M contract, he can be a very affordable option looking for an extra veteran arm.
So where does this leave us moving forward? Trading away starters makes the rotation incredibly weak and thin, but if it adds more high-value pieces that make long-term sense, the risk might be worth taking. Regarding Cashner and Ross, I’m dubious as to the chances of signing them long-term, so perhaps a move may be prudent. The bullpen is a whole other issue. Aside from Villanueva, we have a staff who seems to be gelling as a unit, and their collective contract status of team control is very favorable. If I were AJ Preller, I’d need to have some enticing offers hit my desk to pry these promising players away.