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Goldstein: Edwards and Campusano expendable for right Big League asset

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We asked the analytics expert about the Padres biggest needs this offseason

Gaslamp Ball had the pleasure of interviewing Analytics guru Max Goldstein (@MaxSportsStudio) last week. We discussed the state the of the Padres, offseason needs, his favorite player and much more. We’re going to have his expert analysis featured periodically on the site. Enjoy!

Can you tell us more about Max’s Sporting Studio?

Max’s Sporting Studio is a sports-oriented website that I founded back in December of 2018. I wanted a place to be able to express my thoughts on different topics, with baseball as my primary focus. I have several other writers on my site, which is neat.

What areas do the Padres need to improve the most?

For me, outfield is the Padres’ biggest position of need this offseason. Hunter Renfroe, who had a minor foot surgery to remove a bone spur in late September, performed poorly in the second half (.161/.263/.299 with 6 homers in 205 plate appearances). Manuel Margot (82 wRC+) and Wil Myers (96 wRC+) were both below average hitters in 2019. Last year, the Padres’ outfield combined for a 94 wRC+, which ranked as the 10th lowest in the majors (league average: 102). San Diego cannot realistically rely on Franchy Cordero, who was sidelined for virtually the entirety of last season due to a number of injuries (elbow, forearm, quadriceps), to be one of their three starting outfielders.

Although the Padres are not projected to receive much of anything from the first base position, I don’t see them addressing this weakness. Eric Hosmer, whom they signed to a colossal eight year deal totaling $144 million in February of 2018 (note that he can opt out after the 2022 season if he’d like), is their guy at this point.

What current free agent do you think would be the most beneficial to the Padres?

I think that Gerrit Cole would the most beneficial free agent to the Padres. He ranks third in the majors among all pitchers in wins above replacement since 2018 (13.4 -- trailing only Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom) and finished second in the AL Cy Young voting in 2019. He would bolster an already formidable San Diego staff.

However, referring back to my answer to the previous question, I think Yasiel Puig makes the most sense for the Padres. In signing Puig, the Padres would be improving their outfield by quite a bit. For three straight seasons dating back to 2017, he has stolen at least 15 bases and hit 20 homers or more. Puig, who is heading into his age-29 season, offers substantial upside and would likely come at a reasonably cheap price (1-2 year deal worth anywhere from $20-25 million [$10-12.5 million annually]).

Any trade targets the Padres could use?

If the Padres decide they are better off exploring the trade market than they are the free agency pool, a couple of options come to mind. Starling Marte of the Pirates is one possibility. He’s produced 3+ fWAR in each of the last two seasons. Another guy San Diego could pursue if Cleveland decides to shop him is Corey Kluber. The Padres have been linked to Kluber trade talks in the past. He is presumably familiar with the organization, as the Padres are the team who originally drafted him (in the 4th round of 2007 June Amateur Draft). He’d be a valuable source of leadership in a very young clubhouse. In fact, the average age of San Diego’s pitchers (weighted by 3 * GS + G + SV) is 26.3, which is the youngest in all of baseball (league average: 28.5).

Is trading a top prospect worth any of the players that are on the Trade Block?

Right now, the Padres have 6 prospects that FanGraphs ranked in their most recent Top 100 list.

  • MacKenzie Gore (5)
  • Luis Patiño (26)
  • Taylor Trammell (27)
  • CJ Abrams (43)
  • Xavier Edwards (84)
  • Luis Campusano (92)

In my opinion, it is in San Diego’s best interests to hold onto the top four guys listed above. The main reason being that there are simply not that many controllable players on the trade block at the moment.

However, Edwards and Campusano, who are both highly-regarded, promising prospects in their own rights, are more expendable and could entice the Tribe to trade away Kluber or the Pirates to do the same with Marte.

Who’s the most exciting “analytics” prospect?

I find Wander Franco, the consensus No.1 ranked prospect in the industry, to be the most exciting “analytics” prospect in baseball.

At a level (A+) in which he was over four years younger than the average player, he hit .339/.408/.464 with a 157 wRC+ over the course of 223 plate appearances this past season. He walked 11 more times than he struck out and added 11 doubles and 3 homers (his power is still developing). Also, between single-A and single-A plus, he stole 18 bags. The craziest part of all is that he’s only 18 years old.

Your favorite current or former Padre?

My favorite Padre is probably Kirby Yates. He’s really good, and I can tell that he’s worked so hard in the past few years. To think that the Angels cut him in April of 2017 is remarkable. He sure has come a long way since then.

If they improve in the areas you listed, are they a playoff team?

If the Padres improve the strength of their outfield, and their best players stay healthy (Fernando Tatis Jr., Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, etc.), I believe that they have what it takes to compete for a playoff spot.

With that being said, I think that they’ll win closer to 80 games. But you never know!

In your opinion, do stats like 200 IP or hitting .300 mean what they used to?

I think that amassing 200 IP means more than it used to because fewer pitchers do it today than in the past.

Hitting .300 is good because it means that there is a good chance that the player has an above average OBP and SLG. However, hitting .300 alone is not enough to conclude that the individual is a good hitter. Every single qualified hitter that hit .300 or above (19 total) in 2019 had an above average on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

200 innings pitched is more of an accomplishment now than it was in the past. If a guy reaches the 200 inning plateau, it is because he’s a solid (or better) pitcher and/or his team is really bad.

You can read more from Max by visiting www.maxssportingstudio.com

Be sure to follow him on twitter as well! @MaxSportsStudio