When the Padres signed Gaudin, I praised the move, declaring Gaudin the Padres third best starting pitcher (behind only Peavy and Young). A few weeks later, I announced I was so bullish on Chad that I had picked him up in a NL/AL fantasy league.
In June, I urged the Friar Faithful not to give up on Chad, arguing that his batting average on balls in play and his strand rate suggested his high ERA was a function of bad luck. As recently as July 27, I favorably compared Gaudin to Wandy Rodriguez who has a 2.63 ERA this season.
I think it is pretty clear that I am a fan of Chad. I continue to believe he is a league average starting pitcher (or at worst, slightly below league average, but certainly better than replacement level).
Gaudin’s stats support my hypothesis.
Since 2007, his xFIP’s (FIP with a normalized HR rate) have read: 4.58, 4.43, 4.00, 4.23. Nothing wrong with those numbers. Consistently league average. As we all know, Chad strikes out a lot of players (a strikeout per inning this season), but also walks a lot of guys (4.78 BB/9). Gaudin is not a good pitcher, but he has value.
From a baseball perspective, I don’t love this trade, but I don't hate it either.
The Padres were due to control Chad for another two arbitration cycles. This year he made $2M (note: the Cubs are on the hook for all but $400,000 of his salary this season), and given his high ERA, I cannot imagine him receiving a huge arbitration reward next season-maybe $3 million at most. Given Gaudin has been worth somewhere between $5 million and $7 million already this season, and was worth $3.8 million in only 90 innings in 2008, I feel Gaudin is a good bet to provide value in excess of his salary next season.
The problem with Gaudin is that the Padres have actually acquired a lot of pitchers who will provide the same amount of value. Kevin Correia, Clayton Richard, and Sean Gallagher are all guys who should put up a FIP between 4.0 and 4.5 next season.
Tim Stauffer may be able to post similar numbers. Mat Latos will be projected to be league average next year, but could certainly pitch better than that. Correia has the same amount of service time as Gaudin, but the rest of these “league average” pitchers are not even arbitration eligible. They will be paid the minimum. (And be less frustrating to watch).
Plus there’s also Chris Young-another guy who will probably be projected to be league average, but may exceed his projections next year.
Furthermore, because Petco Park is notorious for being so kind on pitchers, I believe the Padres have a leg up on signing league average free agents looking to parlay a Petco-influenced ERA into a larger contract in the future. Replacing Chad should not be a problem for the Padres.
And that’s why, as much as I took a liking to Chad’s volatile approach to getting outs, I don’t mind trading him…even for cash. The Padres are full of cheap, average pitchers, and won’t have a problem signing more of them if needed.
Chad was expendable.
I would however like to thank him for his four months of service to the Padres organization. He provided me with an incredible abundance of post material, and I will always remember being at the game where he walked the opposing pitcher with the bases loaded.
This Story Originally Appeared on Friar Forecast