San Diego Padres: Best Bargain Buys of the Past Decade
This is what the Padres do best: obtain quality players for as little as possible.
Being a small market team forces the Padres to be fiscally responsible. Sure, as fans, it’s frustrating to see our best talents leave for higher pay. However, it’s a truth we must accept.
When it comes to the best “bargains,” there are two ways of defining it: 1. the best player for the cheapest price and 2. getting the most resources when selling.
Of course it’d be easy to fill this list by measuring WAR against salary, but I’d like to develop a more insightful list of true bargain buys.
7. Chris Young
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Overall (keyword: overall), Chris Young’s contract with the Padres was extremely team-friendly.
In 2007, Young earned a measly $750,000, however, his pitching warranted a much higher pay. That season his final ERA was 3.12 and he had a WHIP of 1.09. But, this stellar performance rewarded Young with a 4-year balloon contract, which ended with him earning an overvalued $6.25 million in 2010.
Though injury-plagued, when Young was healthy, he was as dominant as ever. In 2006, Young was two outs away from throwing the Padres’ first no-hitter in franchise history.
6. (Rizzo), Kelly & Cashner for Adrian Gonzalez
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So this “bargain” is a little more abstract and yet to fully pan out, but please bear with me.
Therefore, for Adrian Gonzalez the Padres got Casey Kelly and Andrew Cashner.
Both Kelly, and later this year, Cashner, are expected to be strong candidates for the starting rotation. Not only will they be competitive, but they are highly touted prospects predicted to make a strong impact for the team.
Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez has failed to play up to his pre-trade play. And, as most of us unfortunately know, he was traded to the dreaded rival Dodgers.
5. Jake Peavy
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It’s hard to argue a better bang for a later-round draft pick, than with Jake Peavy.
Taken in the 15th round of the 1999 draft (I know, not technically this decade), Peavy was the unarguable ace of the Padres from 2004-2009. Listing his impressive accolades isn’t easy either. To start out, he won the NL Cy Young in 2007 after leading the NL in strikeouts, wins and ERA. However, somewhat equally as impressive, in only his third year Peavy led the NL in ERA while still posting a 9.4 K/9.
So what did this dominance cost the Padres? After surpassing his rookie contract, he signed a four-year $14.5 million contract with the team. However, in 2007 he signed another four-year extension worth a robust $52 million (he would have earned a club-option $22 million this 2013 season). The deal was the largest in team history at the time.
4. Erlin and Wieland for Mike Adams
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Similar to a previous slide, the effect of this trade should pan out in the next few years.
In 2011, the Padres traded a solid piece of their pen, Mike Adams, to the Rangers for Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland. It’s hard to argue the Padres didn’t capitalize on the 33-year-old's impressive season.
Like Cashner and Kelly, Erlin and Wieland figure to be strong contenders to be part of the 2013 starting rotation.
Adams, though decent with the Rangers, isn’t worth two solid starters the Padres got in return.
3. Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger for Mat Latos
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If you’re a Padre fan, it isn’t hard to explain this trade's value for the team.
I was fairly surprised when I learned of the trade to the Reds, and to be honest, upset. I was a fan of Latos and his antics. However, that was before I read about, and saw, what we got in return.
Yonder Alonso was a solid first baseman in his rookie year, and many even predicted he would earn ROY honors in 2012. 2013 looks to be a big year for Alonso who should hit near the heart of the order.
Volquez should be the Opening Day starter and the default “ace” of the team.
Grandal, though now suspended 50 games, showed his impressive talent last year and figures to be an important piece if the Padres are to contend this upcoming season.
Latos, in return, had a lackluster first half with the Reds and was decent in the second. What the Padres got in return far outweighed, and will continue, what we gave up.
2. Adrian Gonzalez
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One of the greatest Padres was also one of the most underpaid.
With the Padres, Gonzalez was a four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove and four-time Padres MVP. The amazing part of this excellence, his 2007 five-year contract was only for $15 million!
Unfortunately, the Padres knew they couldn’t pay Gonzalez what he deserved after his contract was up, even with a hometown discount. In 2010 he was traded to the Red Sox for the aforementioned Rizzo and Kelly.
1. Chase Headley
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In 2012, Headley led the NL in RBI and finished fifth in NL MVP voting. These impressive stats were garnered while only being paid $3.75 million!
2013 is an arbitration year for Headley, however, many suspect an extension will be worked out sometime this season. An argument could be made for either Headley or Gonzalez topping this list, unfortunately only one could.
Headley joins the ranks for Robinson Cano, Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout for the most underpaid players in the MLB.
Perhaps Headley or GM Byrnes will see this and be more motivated to pay Headley what he deserves….? One could only hope.