Because Headley is currently under contract with the Padres for two more years at a well-under market value discount ($3.475M in 2012), his trade value is extremely high—and once again the rumor mill is spinning.
With the news of Alex Rodriquez’s injury and subsequent surgery, many have speculated the Yankees would inquire about the Pads' star third-baseman. However, Padres GM Josh Byrnes told the press at MLB’s annual Winter Meetings, “We're really not having those discussions with anybody.”
It’s evident the Padres’ new ownership, the O’Malley Group, needs to make a splash and revitalize the organization while building a serious contending team.
Previous owners have made the same cookie-cutter claims about building teams from within; however, trading stars such as Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy speak otherwise. If the new owners want to stand by their word and prove to the league and their fans that change is on the horizon, they will move mountains to try to extend Headley’s contract.
However, though initial contract talks have reportedly taken place, there is no rush to get a deal done right away. Headley is still under his current deal with the Padres for two more years and eligible for arbitration in 2015.
The Padres' “rebuilding phase” may be finally coming to an end.
MLB-ready prospects Jedd Gyorko, Cory Spangenberg and Austin Hedges, among many others, are nearing consistent playing time. Along with the fleet of already established young players, Yasmani Grandal, Casey Kelly and Andrew Cashner, the Padres might be a darkhorse contender this year.
Headley has the unique opportunity to be veteran leader of an excellent young talent pool. With his guidance and mentoring, the rookies can develop to become great all-around hitters.
As I mentioned on the first slide, Headley won a slew of awards after this past season along with finishing fifth in NL MVP voting. It’s in his best interest to push a deal while his stock is at its highest point.
GM Byrnes also said at the Winter Meetings, “We have two more years with him. There's lots of time. … Chase is a very well-liked guy. He's respected, he's a home-grown Padre … he's earned the right to at least get a nice raise in arbitration.”
However, if I were the Padres I would wait another half season or so and judge exactly where Headley stands. Was the 2012 season a fluke or an upwards trend? The Padres will be able to assess Headley’s play and what type of contract is warranted. The two-year buffer gives the organization some breathing room and lessens the pressure of forcing a deal.