Who the Athletics would want/covet
These two left-handed relievers are very solid contributors to the Padres’ bullpen, and each are under team control for the long run. Hand is not due for free agency until 2020 and Buchter is not going to be a free agent until 2022. Both were lights out last year, as Hand recorded a 4-4 record with a 2.92 ERA in a league leading 82 games. He pitched in over half of the Padres games last season. In his 89 innings pitched in 2016, Brad Hand struck out 111 batters and earned a 1.108 WHIP. Buchter went 3-0 on the year with a 2.86 ERA, 1.032 WHIP while recording 78 K’s in 63 innings pitched.
Both had a tremendous strikeout rate last year (Hand 11.2/Buchter 11.1) as well, which is extremely valuable out of the bullpen. Especially when you factor that each are left-handed hurlers. Neither is solely a left-handed specialist though. Hand held lefties to a .125 batting average last season, but also held right-handed hitters to a .236 average. Meanwhile, Buchter was a complete mystery to hitters from either side of the batter’s box. He held lefties to a .147 batting average while righties only hit .168 off of him. The value of these two men is high, and A.J. Preller will get top dollar for either pitcher.
The Athletics’ current bullpen is a veteran group that lacks a left-handed reliever. Sean Doolittle is scheduled to be the man in the pen from the left side, but he has been battling a sore throwing shoulder and is iffy at best for the season. The A’s have signed Ryan Madson to close and also have Santiago Casilla and John Axford in their pen. Someone like Buchter could be valuable to them as he has the ability to close out games as well. With the emergence of pitchers like Brad Wieck and Kyle McGrath, the Padres have the ability to move the left-handed relievers without crippling the ball club.
Minor League Depth/Pitching
The Oakland Athletics could always use prospects and the Padres are actually at a point with their farm system where they might actually have a surplus of talent. With all the international signings since June, the Padres have an abundance of minor leaguers. For the first time in a long time, the team may actually move talented young players and not even make a dent in their solid farm system.
A player like Nick Torres comes to mind. With the Padres currently stacked in the outfield (Margot, Renfroe, Jankowski, Blash, Dickerson) at the major league level, there are no glaring spots that need to be filled. Even more concerning to a player like Torres is that the team has Michael Gettys, Buddy Reed, Jorge Ona, and Jeisson Rosario swiftly climbing the ranks. Torres is a solid prospect, but he has sadly gotten lost within the Padres’ developing system. The fact he was not drafted by the Preller regime also seals his fate as potential trade bait. A franchise like Oakland could get excellent value from an outfielder like Torres. At the age of 23, he still has upside as he hit .308 last season with six homers and 18 RBI in 36 games in El Paso verses Triple-A pitching. The right-handed hitting outfielder recorded a slash line of .288/.326/.439 overall in 503 at bats last year in the minors. He did strike out 131 times last year, while walking only 21 times, so he has to adjust his approach at the plate.
The A’s could use a bat like Nick Torres, and the Padres still have more talent that might be a help to the franchise by the Bay Area. At this point the Padres are loaded with talented young pitchers at the minor league level, especially within the lower levels of the system. I would not expect the Padres to deal Anderson Espinoza, Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer, Adrian Morejon, Jacob Nix, Logan Allen, Enyel De Los Santos, and Dinelson Lamet as they represent a very bright future. However, upper-tiered minor league players like Tyrell Jenkins, Zach Lee, Andrew Lockett, and Michael Kelly could be of real interest. Then there are pitchers like Jarred Cosart and Christian Friedrich that might not make the starting five, but could have some real value to an A’s team looking to fill out their roster.
Who the Padres would want/covet
With the signing of Trevor Plouffe, the A’s have a third baseman for the 2017 season. The former Twin provides veteran leadership for the club at the hot corner. The A’s have a young third baseman by the name of Matt Chapman who is their fourth-rated prospect. He is 23, and just about major league ready. Oakland recently sent him down to the minor league camp after he had a productive spring season. Last year, in 514 at bats, he hit 36 home runs and drove in 96 runs between Double-A and Triple-A. The third baseman has a rocket arm and his power is obvious, but he lacks plate discipline. He struck out 173 times last season. Chapman has Gold Glove caliber potential on defense, but some scouts question whether he will ever be able to square up balls consistently enough to be a viable major leaguer.
The former Cal State Fullerton product has a decent ceiling, and the A’s wouldn’t be too pleased about parting with him, but the Padres need depth at the position and his numbers are intriguing to say the least. Presently the Padres have journeyman infielder, Christian Villanueva, penciled in to start the season in El Paso and man the hot corner for the Chihuahuas. Chapman is a legit prospect, and if the Padres want a chance at him, they will have to pay the price.
It is no secret that the San Diego Padres are seeking some help at the shortstop position. Presently Erick Aybar looks to be the starter, with Luis Sardinas also vying for playing time. Sardinas is probably the better player at this point, but the Padres value Aybar’s veteran leadership abilities. Allen Cordoba also could get some action at shortstop, depending on if he makes the team out of the spring. Being that he is a Rule-5 draft pick, he is no lock to be kept by the team at this point.
The A’s are loaded with shortstops. Well, maybe loaded is an exaggeration, but they do have some options. Marcus Semien is the starter at the moment. The team acquired him before the 2015 season from the White Sox and he has showcased some power for the Bay Area team. He has hit 42 home runs in the last two years (27 last season) and displays a lot of power from a position that is typically lacking it. He played in 159 games for the team and has been a rock in the lineup. He has power and a little bit of speed, but Semien is a below-average defender at the position. He made 21 errors last season and 35 in 2015 for the A’s. At this point the A’s are happy with the 25-year-old, so why would they consider dealing him?
The simple answer is Franklin Barreto, the team’s #1 prospect. He spent most of last season in Double-A where he posted a .281 average and hit 10 homers in 119 games at the age of 20. He was one of the youngest players in the Texas League, and showed poise despite his inexperience at that level. He received a cup of coffee in Triple-A where he hit .353 in 17 at bats. The undersized right-handed batter has a quick swing and should develop more power in time. His bat is not an issue, but some question if he can continue to play short because of some constant miscues while fielding. With a little more effort, he can easily rectify that, as he has speed and an above-average arm. Barreto is their #1 prospect, so acquiring him would be no simple task.
The third shortstop on the Padres radar is probably Chad Pinder. The 24-year-old played in 22 games last year for the A’s and is ready for the next level. He was optioned to the minors last week though, and will have to start the year in Triple-A for the Athletics. In 107 games last year in Triple-A he hit .258 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI. He might be more of a utility player, but the right-handed hitter could emerge under the right circumstances. He has a plus arm and good footwork. Pinder does not have the best speed, nor is hitting his best tool, but he could be a consistent player in the majors. His price tag would be much lower than Barreto or Semien, but is he better than what the Padres currently have on their team?
At this point the two teams do match up on a trade, but the Athletics do not seem to be too interested in dealing either Semien or Barreto. The Padres have players that the A’s covet, but the price tag on either young shortstop would likely be too steep for a Padres team not looking to stunt their growth. As the season progresses, each team will have a better idea of what their needs are currently and for the future. Perhaps then a deal can be worked out that gives both teams the edge they need to compete in their divisions.