When the San Diego Padres hired A.J. Preller in August of 2014, the team knew he would make changes. The ownership group was aware that he would likely bring his own philosophy. With that thought process, he would bring in players that fit the mold that the young G.M. is trying to produce. Deals would be made as the team attempted to build a winning tradition.
He wasted no time in altering the roster. After the 2014 season was complete, the Padres would overhaul both their major league roster and their minor league roster. For seasons on end, the Padres’ farm system had failed to consistently cultivate talent, and obviously something needed to be addressed in the scouting and development department.
Don Welke and Logan White bring a track record of success. White helped build a Dodgers juggernaut, while Welke’s most recent team, the Texas Rangers, currently has one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. These two will help improve the minor league system for the team. With a steady influx of talent arriving for the Padres, it will only make things easier at the major league level.
In acquiring established veterans, Preller had to move many of the Padres’ top prospects. To much uncertainty to the fan base, the minor league system was depleted in an attempt to boost the major league roster. It all started on November 11th, 2014, with a minor trade between the Padres and Royals. 35 trades later, we are at this point in the Padres’ construction.
Let’s take a look at each trade and see how the players the Padres dealt are doing compared to what the team received in return.
This first trade of the A.J. Preller era is not talked about very much. The speedy outfielder Fuentes was part of the package the Padres received from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. He is the cousin of Carlos Beltran and was supposed to be a decent prospect. The Padres shipped him off to K.C. where he had a productive year last year in Triple-A. Bartsch, on the other hand, struggled since becoming a Padre. Bartsch was hit hard last year in Lake Elsinore, where he recorded a 4.60 ERA in 52 games for the Storm. He is still 25 and a left-handed thrower, but was released by the team on May 18th after posting a 8.31 ERA in his first 17 innings pitched for the San Antonio Missions. He was promptly claimed by the Royals two days later and was assigned to Double-A in their farm system, where he has gone 2-1 with a 0.94 ERA and a 0.907 WHIP in 28 innings pitched. Really? I mean, come on?!?!? This deal has turned out really bad. Fuentes cost them nothing and Bartsch is developing.
Fuentes has always had decent numbers, and I was surprised the team decided to move on from him. As a Royals minor leaguer in 2015, Fuentes recorded a .310/.364/.432 slash line with nine homers and 29 stolen bases. He is 26, and could be a decent major league outfielder with the right opportunity. For the Royals so far this season, Fuentes hit .317 in 13 games. In Triple-A for the 2016 season, he put up a .313/.371/.431 batting line while hitting 10 homers and driving in 61 runs.. This deal turned bad, and it turned bad quickly. Fuentes has shown the ability to stick in the majors for at least a few seasons and Bartsch was given up on too early by the franchise. His numbers in the Royals farm system dictate that. Fuentes was signed by the Diamondbacks this past winter, as he will try to win a position with the Padres’ division rival. Not a good first trade to start the A.J. Preller era.
This deal had been rumored for weeks, and on December 18th it finally came to fruition. The Padres acquired the Dodgers’ most known offensive player in a deal that seemed impossible to complete. There were issues with Kemp’s hips after a physical, but the two teams agreed on the deal anyway. This deal is complicated. The Padres supposedly got the best player in the deal (Kemp), but they also took responsibility for most of his hefty contract. The team grew tired of Kemp’s antics and shipped the slugger to the Braves, and ate millions upon millions of dollars in the process.
Kemp had a decent offensive year for the Padres in 2015, driving in 100 runs and hitting for the team’s first cycle in franchise history. Federowicz was hurt in the spring and DFA’d by the middle of the 2015 season. The Dodgers acquired Eflin from the Friars and immediately flipped him to the Phillies for Jimmy Rollins. Eflin had an average year in 2015 with the Phillies Double-A team. He went 8-6 in 23 starts with a 3.69 ERA. This season for the Phil’s Triple-A team, he went 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA. He was recalled, and in his first 11 major league starts, went 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 63 innings pitched.
Yasmani Grandal played in 115 games in 2015 for the Dodgers. He hit .234 with 16 homers and 47 runs driven in.. The catcher has great pitch framing and receiving skills that make his value more than what he provides with the bat. He hit .278 last season with 27 homers and 72 RBI. Joe Wieland bounced back and forth between the Dodgers’ major league team and Triple-A team in 2015. The Dodgers traded him in January to the Seattle Mariners, where he has recorded a 11-5 record with a 5.38 ERA in 22 games (20 starts) for their Triple-A team. This was a bad deal for the Padres, and it got worse and worse. If Eflin or Grandal have any sort of major league career, this deal could become one of the worst in franchise history. Two bad deals for A.J. in his first two moves, but things do get better.
The San Diego Padres had a need at catcher since they dealt Yasmani Grandal to the Dodgers. It did not take A.J. Preller very long, as he plucked Derek Norris away from the Oakland Athletics for two young pitchers. Alvarez and Hahn both were major league ready pitchers, so the Padres paid a decent asking price for Norris. Or at least they thought they did at the time.
In his first year in San Diego, Norris immediately became a fan favorite for his tough play and hard-nosed attitude. He had defensive questions when he first joined the team, but quickly hushed all critics with a productive year defensively. Seth Streich was also acquired with Norris, but the pitcher has had arm issues since the deal.
Hahn had a nice year for the A’s last season but injury concerns once again showed up for him. He has had a long history of arm troubles, so it’s no surprise the same issues again hit Hahn in 2015. While he was in there for the A’s, he was productive, going 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 96 innings. After a slow start to the spring, a healthy Hahn was optioned to Triple-A to start the 2016 season. He went 1-6 in Triple-A with a 3.66 ERA. He has made nine starts for the A’s in 2016, going 2-4 with a 6.02 ERA and a 1.640 WHIP. R.J. Alvarez had an inconsistent year last year between Oakland and their Triple-A team. This season he was shelved early after having elbow surgery in March. He was claimed by the Cubs on June 12 after the Athletics tried to sneak him through waivers. He threw in the Cubs’ minor league system in 2016, going 1-1 with a 9.90 ERA in 20 games. Norris was dealt in December of 2016 after a horrible year for the Padres. The team received a young right-handed pitcher. At one time this looked to be a steal for the Padres, but it has evened out.
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