I was driving on 163 North today, past a particularly stolid stretch of freeway traffic colliding with downtown, when the Spotify app on my phone did that annoying thing where it stops playing music and starts stringing together advertisements (KFC’s new Cheetos Chicken sandwich, Hims for Men hair-loss prevention, a concert in San Francisco featuring an artist only tangentially related to my listening habits). I suffered these corporate entreaties as I continued to wheel softly down the soft gradient of onramp leading towards Hillcrest and Balboa Park, making a mental note to myself for the 500th time to just go ahead and pay Spotify the $9.99 monthly fee for a “Premium” subscription devoid of ads—to submit, already, to the dominion of one corporation, if only to avoid giving mental resources to something called a KFC Cheetos Sandwich.
The newest Colonel is three feet tall and orange. Watch Colonel Chester Cheetah kickflip boring food to the curb with his new KFC Cheetos Sandwich. Available starting July 1st. pic.twitter.com/qc8rNMxsxs— KFC (@kfc) July 1, 2019
Rather than performing my usual trick—wherein I double-tap the menu button on my iPhone, slide off Spotify, and then immediately reopen it and resume my music—I decided to take the opportunity to check in on local sport radio. In my car, “FM” and “AM” are automatically tuned to 97.3 and 1360, respectively, for just these types of situations, and I have to say I like a lot of the programming that these stations are doing in the wake of 1090’s exit from the airwaves. It being 8:30, I knew that Ben and Woods would be on one station, and some other dudes I was as yet unfamiliar with would be on the other station. As it turns out, there wasn’t really any difference.
Two weeks out from the MLB trade deadline, both sets of talk radio jockeys were having the same debate. As it was painted for listeners, there were only two options, two paths for the hometown Padres to take in their precipitous plummet down the standings—the only way for the Padres to improve, the only way for them to load up for 2020, laid in two simple choices: trading Hunter Renfroe, or trading Franmil Reyes.
That the Padres range of options should be characterized so simply was, I thought, a bit counterintuitive. It seemed to say, “The only way for this team to get better is to trade its productive big league players”. That the team’s situation would be characterized as so desperate was, I thought, an artifact of conditioning—the result of years and years of trading productive players in July to replenish middling farm systems. It was as if the mere word “trade deadline” produced in us San Diegans a Pavlovian response—we hear a bell, we grab whoever on our team is OPSing north of .800, and we run to exchange them for tasty food pellets—hopefully, Cheetos branded food pellets. Yum.
I’m on a diet, so I ate one of those KFC Cheetos Sandwiches, then did 20 minutes of cardio, followed by 20 minutes of diarrhea. pic.twitter.com/0vlOggGAmT— Not Matt Moscona (@NotMoscona) July 9, 2019
I thought about calling in—at the behest of the radio personalities “opening up the lines”—and man-splaining to the hosts that the Padres have the #1 farm system in baseball, which they could more easily draw on to improve the roster; I thought about outlining several trade packages and proposals that the organization could make around prospects and Kirby Yates, purely; I thought, in response to constant on-air suggestions that the team attach a good player in order to rid itself of Wil Myers’ contract, that I might point out that San Diego currently has the 23rd-ranked payroll in the sport, and that its fans might not be well served to have such a vested interest in the profitability of the team, if it means sacrificing on-field product that should be intended for our entertainment and delight.
But, then again, I thought, maybe I would end up looking like an ass. Not because I would probably sound smug or smarmy making these arguments, nor because I was afraid of being one of “those” talk radio callers, but simply because it wasn’t inconceivable the team would move Reyes or Renfroe. After all, the team did already have Josh Naylor on the roster, with Travis Jankowski set for activation in the coming weeks. Teams had shown interest in our big sluggers. Questions about Reyes’ defense continued to abound, while Renfroe is set to enter arbitration in 2020—an arbitration that, given his home run totals, could produce gargantuan salary figures that A.J. Preller may feel shy about paying to a player who has yet to exceed 3.0 WAR in a season.
I had to admit—it was entirely feasible that the Padres could trade Reyes or Renfroe while their values were at an apex, so the question remained: which one would we prefer to keep?
The various merits of both players have been discussed in our comment boards incessantly. So, I decided, on that fateful gridlocked onramp, that today is the day we settle this once and for all. You’re A.J. Preller, and you’re making the trade call. Who’s gotta go?
Who would San Diego be best served to trade in a deadline deal?
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