MLB Offseason: Evaluating Each Major Offseason Move by the San Diego Padres
The Padres have had a very active postseason, and that is nothing but good news for Padre fans. The offseason began with the departure of GM Jed Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod, who left San Diego to join former colleague Theo Epstein, who was hired by the Chicago Cubs to become their new GM. Hoyer will become the Cubs president of baseball operations while McLeod, has been hired as senior vice president/scouting and player development.
The Padres will rely on new GM Josh Byrnes, formerly Vice President of Baseball Operations with the Padres as well as the GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks from November 2005 to July 2010. Brynes will be looked to make the Padres a contender in the NL West. Byrnes has had a very busy offseason including five trades and one free-agent signing that will shake up the Padres roster.
Free Agent Signing: Mark Kotsay
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Padre fans will recognize this face. Mark Kotsay spent three seasons with the Padres from 2001-2003 and batted .293, which is his best batting average with any team. The Padres signed Kotsay in hopes of shoring up there outfield depth, which has been in question for a few years now. The Padres have had players who they have been shuffling in the outfield, including Chris Denorfia, Will Venable, Kyle Blanks, Aaron Cunningham and Chase Headley (who was moved back to third base).
The Padres will look to Kotsay to come off the bench and fill in when needed.
Trade #1: Wade LeBlanc for John Baker from the Miami Marlins
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The San Diego Padres acquired John Baker from the Miami Marlins as the team knew they had to shore up their catching duo, especially since starting catcher Nick Hundley has missed time due to injuries and has yet to play more than 76 games in any season as a professional.
Baker is a career .271 hitter in four seasons, all with the Marlins. In 2009, John hit nine home runs and had 50 RBI—both career highs.
The Padres thought that Wade LeBlanc was expendable, and for a good reason. In 52 career starts, Wade's ERA was over 4.50. LeBlanc has a very nice ERA at Petco Park, with a 2.93 ERA, yet was rocked on the road with an ERA over 6.00.
Trade #2: Nick Schmidt for Huston Street and Cash from the Colorado Rockies
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The Padres acquired former NL West rival closer Huston Street from the Colorado Rockies for former first-rounder Nick Schmidt. Schmidt has yet to reach the majors since being drafted back in 2007. Schmidt's best season in the minors was last season when Schmidt went 4-6 with a 3.91 ERA between the Padres rookie league and High-A league.
Over his career, Huston Street has amassed 178 career saves over seven seasons between Colorado and Oakland. Huston's career ERA is 3.11, which is impressive considering Huston pitches his home games at Coors Field. Over his career, Huston has amassed a 4.11 ERA at Coors Field, which is by no means good, yet acceptable. Huston has averaged about a home run a game at Coors Field—and has faced 38 batters at Petco Park, and has yet to allow a home run.
Huston will take over for former All-Star Heath Bell who left to join the Miami Marlins after spending five seasons with the Padres, amassing a 2.93 ERA and 134 saves.
The Padres would have liked to keep Bell and then move him if they are out of contention near the deadline. With a lot of young pitchers waiting in the minors, I would not be surprised to see Street moved if he has a stellar season pitching at Petco Park.
The Padres also received $1 million towards Huston's contract.
Trade #3: Aaron Cunningham for Cory Burns from Cleveland
On December 16, the Padres traded Aaron Cunningham to the Cleveland Indians for last season's Double-A MiLB reliever of the year, Cory Burns.
Burns is not expected to be with the big-boy club, at least at the beginning of the season. Cory Burns is expected to be with Triple-A Tucson at the beginning of the season. Burns will have a shot at competing for the closing job in the future, especially since he has dominating the minors with 2.02 ERA and 88 saves in 147.1 innings of action. Burns, 24, a former eight-round pick by the Cleveland Indians, will look to continue his success at the minor-league level, and will look to take advantage of his major-league call-up, whenever that may be.
Cunningham was moved after he never played consistently well enough to stay in the majors. In 150 plate appearances between Oakland and San Diego, Cunningham batted .231 with six home runs, and 44 RBI. Cunningham struggled last season with the Padres, batting .178 in 90 plate appearances. Cunningham was successful in 2010, batting .288 with 12 doubles in 132 official at-bats. We'll see if a change in scenery will benefit the 25-year-old outfielder.
Trade #4: Mat Latos for Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, and Two ML's from Cincy
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The Padres received a huge haul when they shipped off their ace Mat Latos. The Padres received Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger from the Cincinnati Reds.
The Padres were not going to move their young ace—who doesn't become arbitration eligible until 2013 and won't see the free-agent market until 2016—unless they were blown away. And with out a doubt they were.
Alonso, Grandal and Boxberger are all 24 or younger, and all former first-round draftees. Oh yeah, they also threw in a former All-Star in Volquez. According to Baseball America, the Padres received the Reds third-best prospect in Alonso, fourth-best prospect with Grandal, and 10th best with Boxberger.
Latos is the second piece of that one-two punch they went into the offseason looking for to pair with Johnny Cueto. Through 72 big league starts, Latos is 27-29 with a 3.37 ERA. Those 29 losses have to be overlooked because of the fact that everyone knows—the Padres often struggle to score runs. In 2010, Latos tied a major league record by going 15 consecutive starts giving up two earned runs or fewer. In 2011, Latos made 20 quality starts and held opponents to a .204 average against, yet only earned nine wins.
Trade #5: Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez for Carlos Quentin from Chicago (AL)
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It took only two weeks for the Padres to make another blockbuster trade, trading away one of their best pitching prospects in Simon Castro, who Baseball America has rated as the 58th best prospect in baseball, along with what was the best slider in the Padres organization as far as prospects are concerned. In six seasons in the minors Castro has a 4.24 ERA, with 29 wins with 33 losses. Pedro Hernandez, 22, is 25-11 in four seasons in the minors with a 3.55 ERA.
Carlos Quentin a former two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger will fit nicely at the middle of the Padres lineup. In 2008, when Carlos was a Silver Slugger, he hammered 36 home runs and drove in 100 runs. Quentin fits perfectly in what the Padres were looking for, a right-handed outfielder with power to left. Last season, every home run that Quentin that hit at U.S. Cellular was to left.
Castro was expendable after the trade that sent Mike Adams to Texas, as the Padres received two future starting rotation guys—Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland.
Trade #6: Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner from the Chicago Cubs
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It took only another week for the Padres to move arguably the biggest piece they acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. Anthony Rizzo, 22, has pop—a lot of pop. That's what the Cubs were looking to acquire this offseason at first base. The Cubs were interested in signing free agent Prince Fielder, but Theo Epstein said that the Cubs are going to do it the right way, which means that they are looking to build their team from the ground up, and focus on scouting and player development, what the Rays and Marlins are famous for accomplishing. Theo and Hoyer are both familiar with Rizzo, who was drafted by the Red Sox back in 2007—when Theo and Hoyer were both members of the Red Sox front office.
In 128 official at-bats at the major league level Rizzo has struggled, hitting only .143 and only one home run. The minors is another story for Rizzo. Rizzo killed the ball last season in Triple-A hitting 26 home runs and hitting in 101 runs. In 375 career games in the minors, Rizzo has hit .296 with 64 home runs. The Padres felt like having both Rizzo and Alonso in Spring Training could be bad news. "Having both Alonso and Rizzo in spring training would have been a little like having a quarterback controversy," said Byrnes. "We didn't want that and we felt that Alonso might fare a little better at Petco Park. The acquisition of Alonso provided us the flexibility to make this trade and acquire a quality, young power arm in Cashner."
Cashner will likely move into the setup role/late inning role for the Padres this season, and either eventually find himself closing or in the starting rotation. Over his 48 minor league appearances (42 starts), Cashner was 10-8 with a 2.82 ERA. In 2010, Cashner went 2-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 53 appearances out of the bullpen. In 2011 with a 1.69 ERA, allowing just three hits in 10 2/3 innings.
Kyung-Min Na, 20, was also sent to the Padres and the Cubs received Zach Cates, 22.