Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Because of their payroll limitations, the Padres are much less likely to trade a package of prospects for major league talent. For them to eventually be successful on a yearly basis, they need a steady stream of talent graduating to the majors and another wave replacing them.
That doesn’t mean they won’t sacrifice the future, but the timing has to be perfect. It’s been a long time but think of the Kevin Brown acquisition in 1998. They knew they were close and a No. 1 starter could push them over the top. So they traded their top prospect Derrek Lee and two other minor leaguers to acquire him from the Marlins before the season.
This risk paid off as they won the NL Pennant and went to the World Series for the second time in franchise history. Lee became a very productive player and helped lead the Marlins to the World Series in 2003.
If the Padres can enter July near the top of the division and the team is playing much better than anyone could have expected, similar to the second half of 2012, then maybe they pull the trigger to add a top-of-the-rotation starter to a staff that currently looks very vulnerable.
The farm has already taken a hit, losing two of its top players, outfielder Rymer Liriano (pictured) and starting pitcher Casey Kelly, to Tommy John surgery, but they still have enough high end talent to make a huge upgrade around midseason.
The best of the best, catcher Austin Hedges and lefty starter Max Fried, are both a few years away but either would be a great centerpiece to any deal. Other pitching prospects, such as Donn Roach (Double-A), Joe Ross (Lo-A) and Matt Wisler (High-A) are also impressive. In fact, they started 2013 off about as good as possible. Here's a tweet from Padres Vice President of Player Development and International Scouting, Randy Smith, on their Opening Day performances.