San Diego Padres: Ranking the Best/Worst Blockbuster Trades of the Past 5 Years

Gary OusdahlCorrespondent IIApril 18, 2013

San Diego Padres: Ranking the Best/Worst Blockbuster Trades of the Past 5 Years

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    If you're a San Diego Padres fan like I am, you're well aware that the team's front office is no stranger to trading the club's bigger names at the peak of their popularity for prospects. 

    Chase Headley may be next on the block this year as it looks apparently inevitable that the team will not be able to afford him when he hits free agency in 2015.

    Sure it's been difficult to see so many talented fan favorites dealt as the team looks to build their farm system in an attempt to reinvent the team, but as long as the returns are substantial, the moves make sense, don't they?

    After some recent deals in the past few years, the Padres now have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball.  But let's also remember that these youngsters are called prospects just for that reason, none of them are proven big league players.

    So has the Padres questionable strategy of trading players before they become unaffordable worked?

    Let us take a look at some of the bigger moves in the past five years and figure it out...

Adrian Gonzalez

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    When the Padres traded starting pitcher Adam Eaton and reliever Akinori Otsuka to the Texas Rangers for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Chris Young and outfielder Terrmel Sledge after the 2005 season, I was at first apprehensive and questioned the Padres logic for acquiring a relatively unknown group of players.  However, I think we all know how that turned out.

    Young had two and a half strong seasons starting for the Padres before suffering from constant injury, and though Sledge never panned out, Gonzalez gave five solid seasons to the Padres and immediately became a huge hometown fan favorite.  

    And not only did Gonzalez receive MVP votes in four out of the five seasons he played in San Diego, he also made three All-Star Game appearances and won two Gold Gloves for his solid defense at first base.

    But then the inevitable happened...

    On December 6, 2010, after the Padres knew they wouldn't be able to resign Gonzalez to a long-term extension, they traded him away to the Boston Red Sox for a package that included right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Reymond Fuentes and outfielder Eric Patterson.  

    Sure it looked like a decent trade at the time, but Rizzo was later shipped off to the Cubs for pitcher Andrew Cashner, Kelly has yet to perform consistently at the major league level (and is now missing the entire season to Tommy John surgery), Fuentes is still just a mediocre player in Double-A and Eric Patterson was released by the Padres on December 15, 2011.  

    Gonzalez, on the other hand, kept up his impressive hitting in almost two full seasons with the Red Sox and is now tearing the cover off the ball for division rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

    So has this turned out to be a good trade for San Diego?  

    No, absolutely not.  Sure they were "unable" to afford him long-term, but other than perhaps Cashner, nothing positive has come out of this trade.

    Grade: D

Mat Latos

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    No one wanted to see starting pitcher Mat Latos traded away and I know we all still wish the Padres had a staff ace back at the top of the rotation.  

    When Latos was traded away on December 17, 2011 for first baseman Yonder Alonso, starter Edinson Volquez, catcher Yasmani Grandal and reliever Brad Boxberger, I wasn't totally sure how the trade would benefit or take away from the success of the team.

    True Padres fans saw the writing on the wall for Anthony Rizzo after acquiring Alonso.  Sure Rizzo needed to work on shortening his swing and still needed development before hitting the way he dominated in the minors, but the thought of losing such a potentially powerful bat in the middle of the lineup really bothered me at the time.  

    Looking back, however, the decision to trade Rizzo and keep Alonso was the right thing to do for the team.  Alonso hit .273/.348/.393 with nine home runs, 39 doubles and 62 RBI in his first full season with the Padres and is really beginning to find his groove and make a nice name for himself in San Diego.  Not only that, but he's still developing as a player and is just getting better the more he plays.

    I was hoping the move to Petco would help Volquez re-find his 2008 form and prove that he could still be a solid contributor to a starting rotation.  Sure he was no replacement for Latos, but he pitched relatively well for the Padres in 2012 with an 11-11 record, a 4.14 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 182.2 innings pitched.  And though he led the league with 105 walks, it was surprising to see him pitch that well after horrendous seasons from 2009-2011.  This year though, I'm not so sure what to expect out of him, but I guess it still is early in the season.

    Grandal was the biggest surprise for me in this trade and turned out to be a fantastic replacement for Nick Hundley who had a horrific 2012 season after signing a three-year $9-million extension.  

    Grandal ended up hitting .297/.394/.469 with eight home runs, 36 RBI and 28 runs scored in 192 at-bats.  And though he's still serving a 50-game suspension for a positive PED test, I'm excited to get him back in the lineup and am looking forward to watching him compete with Hundley for the starting catching job.

    Boxberger is another guy that I'm excited to see back with the team after a fantastic 2012 season where he had a 2.60 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 27.2 innings pitched.   And though he's currently pitching in Triple-A Tucson, I don't think it will be too long before we see him back in the pen.  

    So was trading Latos the right thing to do?

    He had a very good season with the Reds in 2012 pitching 209.1 innings with a 14-4 record, a 3.48 ERA and 185 strikeouts.  He's also looking pretty good  this season and is with a team that could potentially win the National League Central.  

    But are those numbers worth having if the Padres didn't have the players they received in return?

    I'm more than happy with the guys we received and am optimistically looking forward to seeing how they will continue to grow as the Padres reinvent their team.

    And though I miss watching "Kid Gun" pitch in a Padres uniform, I'll gladly take Alonso, Grandal, Volquez and Boxberger instead.

    Grade: B

Mike Adams

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    Okay I know, not quite a "blockbuster" trade, but one worth writing about in discussing recent front office moves.

    The Padres acquired Mike Adams from the Cleveland Indians on July 18, 2006 for right-handed pitcher Brian Sikorski.  And while not much came of Sikorski's career, Adams flourished as a relief pitcher for the Padres from 2008-2011.

    And when the Padres traded Adams at the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31, 2011, I couldn't have been happier with the return at the time.

    The Padres have always been in need of quality starting pitching.  When they received minor league starters Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland in return for a relief pitcher, regardless of how successful Adams was in the pen, on paper the trade looked like a steal.

    But unfortunately for Padres fans, it's still too early to really tell what will transpire from the Adams trade.

    Wieland had a brief debut with the Padres in 2012 and though he showed decent control and had a good strikeout ratio, he still only managed  to compile a 0-4 record with a 4.55 ERA.  And though this sample size is too small to dictate how he will perform the next time he takes the mound for the team, I still have faith in his abilities and feel that he could be a solid contributor sometime in the near future.  

    Erlin on the other hand, has yet to make his San Diego debut, though his minor league numbers have been excellent with both the Rangers and Padres.  

    With a career minor league 19-10 record, with a 2.71 ERA and 377 strikeouts in 335 innings pitched, I'm a strong believer that when given the opportunity to finally start for the big team, he will experience success and become a solid number three or four starter in the rotation.  

    Adams on the other hand has pitched for the Rangers and Phillies since leaving San Diego and has continued to pitch well for both teams.  

    Do I miss him coming out of the pen and setting up games?  Of course I do.  However, I'm more excited about what Erlin and Wieland will do when given the opportunity to pitch full-time.

    Grade: C+

Jake Peavy

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    Nothing broke my heart more as a fan when the Padres traded away 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy on July 31, 2009.  

    And though the return of Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell and Dexter Carter seemed like a decent yet questionable return at the time, no one was excited to see Peavy in any other uniform other than a Padres one.

    And while Peavy struggled in his first two full seasons with the White Sox, it seems that he has re-found his footing with a successful 2012 season and is continuing to pitch well in 2013.  

    So has the return for Peavy panned out?

    Richard has pitched relatively well for the Padres since being acquired.  In his first three full seasons with the team, Richard kept his ERA under 4.00 and other than an injury shortened 2011, he has pitched more than 200 innings twice since coming to San Diego.  And though he got off to a rocky start in 2013, his last outing against the Rockies was impressive as he allowed only two hits while striking out four over six innings pitched.  

    Poreda had to be the most disappointing acquisition from the Peavy trade.  As a former 2007 first-round draft pick (25th overall), Poreda pitched only 2.1 innings for the Padres in 2009, but was inevitably given his unconditional release in 2011 after performing terribly in the San Diego system.  

    At 6'8" and 250 pounds, Russell looked like he was going to be a mainstay in the Padres pen and I thought he would give us plenty of quality outings for many years to come.  And though he had a career 3-1 record with a 3.86 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched with the Padres, the team traded him away to the Tampa Bay Rays with a package of players for shortstop Jason Bartlett.  It looked like a decent swap at the time, but the Bartlett acquisition turned out to be a terrible move for the Padres front office.  So much so, I'll simply just rank it as an "F" without writing an entire slide about it.  

    And what ever happened with Dexter Carter?  His last season in professional ball was in 2012 while pitching for an independent league team in Canada.  

    So was the Peavy trade a good move for the Padres?

    At the time it seemed like it was with the way Richard was pitching while Peavy struggled, but looking back at the results, it didn't put the Padres on any sort of fast track to future success.  

    Grade: C