Offseason Tracker and Analysis: San Diego Padres

Based on owner Ron Fowler’s recent comments emphasizing the need to win now, this should be a very busy offseason for general manager AJ Preller, who could be in his final stand as the team’s lead decision-maker. They need to be careful to not hamper their future spending capacity further, but with an abundance of pitching prospects, they could definitely make a few trades to fix their offense- if Preller goes about this the right way, San Diego could be a sneaky playoff contender next season.

Expected Direction: Making Splash Moves In Order To Compete Next Season

Padres Acquire OF Trent Grisham and SP Zach Davies From Brewers

Photo Cred: Fox Sports

Full Trade: Padres Acquire OF Trent Grisham and SP Zach Davies From Brewers In Exchange For SS Luis Urias, SP Eric Lauer, and PTBNL/Cash

Grade: 7.5/10

In a rare four MLB player swap, the Padres have acquired outfielder Trent Grisham and starting pitcher Zach Davies from the Brewers, in exchange for young infielder Luis Urias and starting pitcher Eric Lauer. There was always a chance that San Diego could deal Urias, who was considered an elite prospect heading into the season, this offseason. However, it’s very surprising that they did so in this manner- they have a lot of faith in Grisham. There’s definitely reason to be optimistic for the 23-year-old, who had been a star in the minor leagues. He’s constantly had extremely high walk rates, demonstrated his power this season, and had a weighted-runs-created plus (wrc+) of 150 and 194 in Double-A and Triple-A, respectively. His strikeout rate (26.2%) and 92 wrc+ were worse than expected in his 183 major league plate appearances, but he graded out as a positive defender in all three outfield spots, which gave him an impressive WAR of 0.6 in just 51 games. Davies, meanwhile, is a puzzling piece to this trade. Lauer isn’t much more than a back-end starting pitcher, but he’s cheaper and with more club control than Davies, who was a liability last season. In 159.2 innings, he had an atrocious 5.20 xFIP, 5.75 K/9, and 5.43 SIERA- his 3.55 ERA certainly isn’t legitimate. In fact, Davies doesn’t strike out hitters, doesn’t have great command, and isn’t inducing ground balls. Grisham fits in nicely in San Diego’s outfield- they needed a left-handed offensive producer. However, Urias is a steep price to pay for him, and they’re definitely downgrading with Davies- I don’t love this move for them.

Padres Sign RP Drew Pomeranz

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs
Photo Cred: CBS Sports

Contract Details: Four Years, $34 Million

Grade: 8.5/10

Immediately following up their unique trade with another surprising move, the Padres have signed reliever Drew Pomeranz to a four-year contract worth $34 million, with $8 million of it being deferred. It was a very strange year last season for Pomeranz- we’ve almost never seen the type of mid-season transition that the 31-year-old had. After falling out of favor in the Giants rotation with a 5.60 FIP, he transformed into an unhittable reliever with the Brewers and Giants. In 28.2 innings, the former 5th overall pick posted a 1.67 xFIP and 15.70 K/9- he was arguably the game’s best reliever down the stretch. The reasons for this success are actually rather obvious; Pomeranz ditched all of his unnecessary pitches in favor of a fastball-curveball combination, and saw his fastball velocity spike to 95+ MPH. Plus, since he’s a lefty with the ability to pitch multiple innings, he’ll be even more valuable if he turns out to be the “real deal”. Obviously, there’s plenty of risk with this move- San Diego is basically guaranteeing Pomeranz four years for 28.2 innings of work. Then again, the potential reward is huge, and his ability to pitch multiple innings will be great for a young pitching staff that may be on an innings limit; San Diego also has established one of the game’s elite bullpens with this signing. Still, the appeal of Pomeranz was that he’d sign for less than what his upside (a dominant reliever) would warrant, but by giving him a four-year contract, the Padres probably won’t be getting the type of surplus value that would’ve made this a no-brainer signing.

Padres Acquire INF Jurickson Profar From A’s

Photo Cred: The Mercury News

Full Trade: Padres Acquire INF Jurickson Profar From C Austin Allen and PTBNL

Grade: 8.5/10

Looking to replace Luis Urias at second base, the Padres have traded for versatile Jurickson Profar, sending 25-year-old catcher Austin Allen and a player to be named later to Oakland. Profar’s only season with the A’s was certainly a little disappointing. Coming off of a season in which he posted a 2.8 WAR, the former top prospect was traded from the Rangers to Oakland, who were looking to acquire a rising young player. Instead, the 26-year-old regressed significantly, posting just an 89 wrc+ and 1.3 WAR. Still, there are reasons to believe in a rebound for Profar in San Diego. His .218 batting average balls in play (BABIP) indicate he was the victim of a lot of bad luck, and in the second half, he had a 119 wrc+ despite an even lower .207 BABIP. Plus, although his defensive metrics (-10 drs) declined tremendously, he had previously rated out as a slightly above-average defender, thus providing optimism for improved defense. Profar’s definitely not a lock to rebound in 2020, as he has to be better offensively AND defensively. Yet, it’s within the realm of possibilities, and although losing Allen, a strong offensive catcher, hurts, there’s a lot of value in bringing in Profar for $5.7 million- he was probably better than any of the alternative second-base options for that price.

Padres Acquire OF Tommy Pham From Rays

Photo Cred: The San Diego Union-Tribune

Full Trade: Padres Acquire OF Tommy Pham and INF Jake Cronenworth From Rays In Exchange For OF Hunter Renfroe, INF Xavier Edwards, and PTBNL. 

Grade: 7/10

In an absolute blockbuster, the Padres have added yet another piece to try to contend next season- they acquired outfielder Tommy Pham and infield prospect Jake Cronenworth from the Rays in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards. Pham, 31, has been an above-average outfielder over the past three years, as he posted a 3.3 WAR and 121 wrc+ last season in Tampa Bay. Notably, his plate discipline is off the charts, which is bound to age well. However, he also had a 2.15 GB/FB ratio last season, and with his sprint speed declining, there have to be concerns about the sustainability of his offense- he’s already 31-years-old, after all. Plus, his defense (1 drs) continues to regress, which further makes him a risky acquisition- San Diego may be acquiring him on the decline. As for Cronenworth, he’s more of a fill-in in this trade (he even pitched 7 innings last season), but the infielder has above-average plate discipline and had a 147 wrc+ in Triple-A this season, so perhaps he can be a depth player. The Padres are indeed getting the best player in this trade in Pham, but Hunter Renfroe is trending up right now, and giving up one of their better prospects in Edwards isn’t great- he had a lot of value. There’s a reason why teams are supposed to hang up the phone when the Rays call- San Diego is getting the short end of this deal.

Padres Sign RP Pierce Johnson

Photo Cred:

Full Contract: Two Years, $5 Million

Grade: 9/10

In an interesting move to upgrade the bullpen, the Padres have signed reliever Pierce Johnson to a two-year deal worth $5 million. Johnson, 28, was a former top prospect with the Cubs, and last pitched in the majors with the Giants- he posted a poor 5.07 xFIP in 43.2 innings pitched. However, he resurrected his career in remarkable fashion in Japan, as he had a 1.38 ERA and a 91-13 K-BB ratio for the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Maybe that was a fluke and won’t indicate success at the major league level, but still $2.5 million per year is a relatively small amount to take a chance, especially since the reward is another solid reliever in a stacked bullpen. More teams should make signings like this when they want to add relief pitcher depth.

Padres Sign RP Craig Stammen

Photo Cred:

Contract Details: Two Years, $9 Million (Club Option For Third Year Worth $4 Million)

Grade: 9/10

The Padres already had one of the premier bullpens in the MLB after signing Pomeranz and Johnson, but now, they’re putting the icing on the cake- they’ve signed veteran reliever Craig Stammen to a two-year deal with a club option for a third season. Even when the Padres weren’t a playoff contender, they always knew they could count on Stammen, who has pitched 241.1 innings for them over the past three seasons, and even better, has posted xFIPs under 4.00 in each of those seasons. Now, his strikeout rate did decrease last season, and with that, so did his xFIP (3.85). However, his xwOBA, per Baseball Savant, ranked in the 82nd percentile, and at the very least, he provides some stability for a young bullpen. For two years at under $5 million per season, there’s not much to criticize here from the Padres’ perspective, other than they’re starting to invest a little too much on relievers overall.

Padres Acquire RP Emilio Pagan

Photo Cred: Yahoo

Full Trade: Padres Acquire RP Emilio Pagan In Exchange For OF Manuel Margot and C/OF Logan Driscoll

Grade: 8.5/10

In a stunning development, the Padres have acquired reliever Emilio Pagan from the Rays, sending outfielder Manuel Margot and catcher/outfield prospect Logan Driscoll to Tampa Bay. Pagan, 28, will now be on his fourth team in his MLB career, yet has only accumulated two years of service time. After struggling with the A’s in 2018, he was traded to the Rays, where he became a star. In 70 innings, he posted a 3.15 xFIP, an absolutely absurd 7.38 K/BB ratio, and a stellar 2.54 SIERA. Better yet, his xwOBA allowed ranked in the 100th percentile, as per Baseball Savant, actually underachieved based on his expected statistics. Now, any reliever who had a 94.8% left-on base rate, .228 BABIP allowed, and a 5.14 FIP against lefties creates cause for concern, but for San Diego, this is still a nice acquisition to acquire a reliever with four years of control left. It’s not the heist that many see it as, since they’ll need to add an outfielder, but this trade has the potential to pay-off massively for the Padres.

*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Padres Make

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