According to MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres would need an “overwhelming offer” to trade closer Kirby Yates. Of course, this news comes on the heels of a separate report indicating that the front office is listening on almost all of their position players, so perhaps it’s worth considering why, exactly, the Padres would hold off on dealing Yates—a past-thirty reliever with presumably high trade value. As the article explains:
First, the Padres think there’s a reasonable path back to contention this season, and they don’t consider themselves “sellers.” (At least, not yet.) Second, Yates is under contract control through 2020. Given the youth on the roster, the Padres think they’ll find themselves squarely in the playoff mix next season. Yates’ presence would clearly help that cause.
This reads to me like posturing. Sure, the Padres haven’t lost all hope at contending—hope, in fact, was easy to find in last night’s historic Mile High miracle. Still, there are three separate things we have heard most prominently from Padres reporters in recent weeks.
First, we heard the Padres were checking in on top-of-the-rotation starters.
Second, we heard that players like Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes could be on the table in trade talks—though, this time, the Padres focus of improvement also included center field and catcher.
Now, we are hearing that the club would “like” to hold on to Yates, but his mention in the context of the trade deadline—from an MLB Padres reporter, no less—is curious.
It may be reasonable to assume the Padres are currently active on several fronts. We know they want a young, controllable MLB “ace”. We know they want improvements in CF and C. We know they are willing to deal MLB players to make those improvements, but that they see Kirby Yates as a crucial part of next year’s campaign.
Taken together, it’s quite possible that there could be a major blockbuster on the horizon, in which Yates, Renfroe/Reyes, and minor league talent go to another team for pieces that more immediately fit our stated needs.
Let’s take a look at which teams in possession of young, controllable starters and middle-of-the-diamond players could be looking to deal. Our field is somewhat narrow in scouting a potential package deal, since we need to locate a club that is looking to contend next year (Yates) and beyond (Reyes/Renfroe), despite having a mediocre or poor record this year.
It makes sense to look at AL clubs first, since the possibly DH-bound Reyes could be involved in a potential deal. The White Sox are a club similarly situated to the Padres, presumably expecting to make a grand push in 2020. A run of good play could put them squarely in the Wild Card, and our trade pieces could help those chances. Problem is, Lucas Gioloto and Eloy Jimenez are probably untouchable, and they are likely the players who could fill our needs best.
The Indians have a decent record in the Central, but likely aren’t catching the Twins and might not like their chances for a Wild Card. Our pieces might be enough to pry away Trevor Bauer, but they don’t have much in center or at catcher.
Marcus Stroman is one consistently linked name when it comes to Padre trade rumors, and he sure would look good donning the brown next season. Could Randall Grichuk make sense as a nice buy-low throw-in?
The Angels are seemingly in a perpetual state of mediocre, and we know they are always trying to contend next season (and if you have Mike Trout, you may as well try). Prospect Jo Adell could be ready to man center in 2020, but, aside from him, there aren’t many realistic big league assets here.
GM Jerry DiPoto was said to be “reimagining” the M’s roster last offseason when he traded a million players while simultaneously adding SP Yusei Kukuchi on a long-term, lucrative deal. Could they be interested in contending next season? If so, might they be interested in moving a down-year Mallex Smith? Could they be looking to pivot on the Kukuchi contract? Would solid-hitting catcher Omar Narvaez interest AJ Preller and staff? Questions abound here.
The Nats have been nothing less than a disappointment this year, as they sit behind the Mets in fourth place currently. Could they be persuaded to part with the potential-laden CF Victor Robles? Might they consider dealing former Aztec Stephen Strasburg?
The Pirates have fallen flat this year, but have many potential trade pieces to dangle on the summer market. Starling Marte would fill several of our needs at once, while rookie Brian Reynolds has steadily built a name for himself in 2019 (splitting time between center and left). Would San Diego be willing to roll the dice on Chris Archer?
It’s hard to figure what the Reds outlook is for 2020 after they spent the past offseason dealing for veterans on one-year deals. Starter Luis Castillo is enjoying a breakout year, which Reds GM Nick Krall may be interested in converting into an uber-haul of talent. Elsewhere, CF Nick Senzel projects as a current-and-future stud. This is a weird match, but perhaps there could be an interesting exchange of young, premium players. Unlikely, but interesting nonetheless.
So what do we think? Is Yates worth letting go of? What other teams or players might you like to see come back if he leaves in a multi-player deal? Feel free to get as weird and speculative as you want—it’s Saturday.