It’s been a busy offseason for Padres GM AJ Preller, and things may get more interesting this week as the Winter Meetings kick off...right here in cloudy San Diego (the Manchester Hyatt, specifically, for those interested in some casual mid-day stalking opportunities).
Before Preller swings his long-awaited Mike Trout-for-twelve-prospects deal, let’s get caught up on all his moves so far this winter, and what they mean for the 2020 roster.
Padres trade Renfroe, X. Edwards for Tommy Pham, Jake Cronenworth
This is the biggest move yet. In trading Renfroe, Preller and his minions essentially signaled the end of an era—an era largely defined by Renfroe’s tantalizing, but ultimately disappointing, performance. Though Hunter ended up realizing the stellar defense and raw power that made him an attractive prospect, an injury throughout the second half of 2019 sapped his production at the plate. Maybe he can finally put it all together with Tampa—he wouldn’t be the first player to do so.
At first glance, trading Renfroe and X. Edwards for a 31-year-old Pham feels like a heavy price to pay. Sure, Pham is a thoroughly above-average player, but he’s not the world-beater this offense might need to surmount divisional rivals. More worrisome is that, similar to 2015, Preller is basically picking apart this system’s depth for a series of mid-range improvements. Rather than trading directly for Mookie Betts, Whit Merrifield, Starling Marte and the like, we head into 2020 with a collection of solidly major league, sub-All-Star additions. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and it is fair to add that it is highly unlikely that a package of Renfroe, Edwards, Urias, Lauer, and Allen could have gotten one of those superstars. As for Edwards, it sucks to give him up, but CJ Abrams was likely going to block him moving forward, if all goes to plan.
Padres acquire Jurickson Profar for Austin Allen
We all know the read on this one: we’ve been hearing about Preller’s obsession with Profar since 2015, and now AJ finally got his man. Profar had a severe case of the yips last year, and it’s worth wondering if those troubles bled over to his approach at the plate. Still, Profar has at least shown that he’s capable of being a playable second baseman, and you have to think that some star potential is still lingering in his 26-year-old body somewhere, right?
As for Allen, this was simply a numbers game. Mejia probably will have at least two more seasons to prove himself, at the least, while Hedges isn’t exactly a player to be thrown away. Meanwhile, Luis Campusano is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the minors, while Luis Torrens makes things awkward for everyone with a pretty well-rounded skillset. Allen’s advanced age and performance indicate that he’s ready for a job, and he just wasn’t likely to find one here.
Padres sign Drew Pomeranz to four-year, $32MM deal
The price tag on this deal likely produced some sticker shock. Pomeranz, this time last year, seemed like a guy whose best pitching was behind him. By early summer, he was bounced off a mediocre Giants team after imploding in a handful of starts. Then he became a slop reliever with the Brewers. Had I told you at that point that he would sign for nearly as much as Will Smith this offseason, you would have been justified in smacking me.
Thing is, Pomeranz stint as a slop reliever soon turned into a stint as a dominant setup man. He entered the market as the second-best lefty available, and should slot in to the 8th inning for San Diego. Of all the deals Preller has made this offseason, this one felt the strangest, especially considering that old friend Ryan Buchter was non-tendered last week after pitching to a sub-3.00 ERA across the whole of 2019. If Buchter ends up signing for $4MM and pitches to a comparable level, this conscious overpay is likely going to look downright desperate in hindsight.
Padres trade Urias, Lauer for Grisham, Davies
This deal is pretty simple and needs to be appreciated in light of the San Diego front office’s apparent lack of belief in Urias. They didn’t get him consistent playing time in 2019. We heard about Ty France challenging him for playing time. Then Esteban Quiroz. The writing was on the wall.
Preller’s group obviously prefers Grisham, who profiles as something of a late bloomer who, like Urias, needed a change of scenery. He’s a superior lefty option to Josh Naylor, who may be able to continue his seasoning in Triple-A.
As for the pitchers involved, Davies has performed slightly better over a longer sample size, while Lauer’s relative velocity makes him a more appealing upside play. Personally, talk of Lauer’s stuff may overlook the near total lack of deception in his delivery. Chances are this is simply a swap of backend starters, based on each team’s handedness needs.
Padres re-sign Pedro Avila, Miguel Diaz
These guys were waived from the roster in order to clear up space for other moves, but were quickly brought back on minor league deals. There is still a lot to like about both of these arms, with Avila (22) and Diaz (25) still offering plenty of time to reach their potential. Avila, first, will need to overcome some injury troubles.
Padres trade Travis Jankowski to Reds for intl funds
This was the first move in an almost complete overhaul of the Padres outfield. We’ve seen Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe, and Jankowski sent away within the last few months. So much for all that controllable outfield depth.
Reds acquire Nick Martini, Eric Yardley released
Martini also ended up with the Reds, which rates as interesting considering Cincinnati is practically our sister organization when it comes to rebuild timelines. I, for one, will be closely watching Cincy’s progresss, especially after last year’s Bauer/Reyes/Trammell deal saw our club kind of play the weaker hand to the Reds’ balls-out approach. Yardley, for his part, headed to the Brewers after being released by the Pads.
Added Jorge Ona to 40-man
Jorge Ona lost most of 2019 to injury, but keep an eye on him as a fast riser this year. This dude had serious pedigree coming out of LatAm, and the first portion of last year seemed to signal that he was putting it all together.
Signed Zayed Salinas for $800K
Zayed Salinas is a 16-year-old Mexican who the Padres plan to develop as a two-way player after signing him for an $800K bonus this November. That’s not an insignificant sum for an intl signing, so it would figure that the Padres were high on him; sure enough, the UT conveyed that the team had him ranked as the #1 amateur in Mexico, citing a huge, left-handed arm and above-average sprint speed.
CJ Edwards to free agency, Seth Mejias-Brean to AAA
Edwards was sent packing to free agency after the Padres coughed up Brad Wieck to get him at the trade deadline...that one has not worked out so far. Mejias-Brean, meanwhile, will stay in the org as more Triple-A depth, although he may have a hard time finding at-bats with Cronenworth, Ty France and Esteban Quiroz all on hand as depth options.