A little more than 24 hours from the end of the trade deadline and I still don’t know what to say about the San Diego Padres and their complete inaction at the trade deadline. As early as last week the Padres came out as complete sellers and many teams lined up for the chance at acquiring several talent players on the Padres roster.
It seemed likely, and was hypothesized by many in baseball, that the Padres would make several trades before the deadline. The 1 o’clock deadline came and went on Friday with the Padres making zero moves. Minutes after the deadline had passed news came out about the Padres trade of OF Abraham Almonte to the Cleveland Indians in return for LHP Marc Rzepczynski. All the talk, all the hype and the Padres did pretty much nothing.
So what gives? It seemed that everyone knew the Padres were going to make a bunch of trades and it seemed like common knowledge that the Padres should make some moves in order to improve their farm system long term. The Padres obviously didn’t do this.
Following the end of the trade deadline, Preller came on the record and said that the reason he did not make any trades is that he and ownership believe the Padres can still make a playoff push this year. This may be the official story but it seems more likely that Preller simply was not going to get the value he wanted in the trade market and decided to keep both his short term and long term assets in order to attempt to compete in 2015 after all.
I believe that this decision may be a grave mistake. I agree completely that the Padres did not need to move players such as Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and Craig Kimbrel who are all under control past 2015. If the return wasn’t there, and I trust Preller in this regard, than there was no need to rush trades of these guys and force them out of town for a return that was less than optimal.
In comparison, guys like Justin Upton, Will Venable, Joaquin Benoit, and Ian Kennedy, should have been traded whether the full value was there or not. These guys, save for Benoit, are free agents following the season and hold little to no value for the Padres following the season. This is where I completely disagree with Preller’s mindset.
Instead of moving players they were likely to move the Padres instead decided that they would hold the whole roster together and attempt to compete in 2015. This is a dangerous mindset to have. The Padres have obviously played much better lately and that is well noted. The Padres have won 11 out of their last 15 and have crawled back within six games of the second wild card position. Beyond that they have a very weak schedule in August and play mostly teams who are below them in the standings. Under these circumstances it is a little easier to see why ownership and Preller thought the Padres could get back into the playoff race.
With that being said, the Padres as a team are just not good enough as currently constituted to make a playoff run. It seems if they really wanted to compete they would have been better off trying to acquire more talent to fix a few of their weaknesses rather than standing pat and making a playoff push with the current roster. The Padres current playoff odds sit around 4% according to Fangraphs. The Padres record is 51-53 currently. The San Francisco Giants are currently projected to finish 88-74 according to Fangraphs playoff projections and would thus be in line for the second wild card spot.
In order to win 89 games and take the second wild card spot the Padres would need to finish the season 38-20. They are currently projected for 80 wins by the end of the year. The Padres would need to win nearly 2 out of every 3 games for the rest of the season to have a shot at making the playoffs. This is a tall task for a team who has barely been able to play .500 baseball over the first four months of the season.
I commend AJ Preller and Padres ownership for having faith in their team this year. The issue is that this team is not a team that is good enough to win 2 out of every 3 games for the rest of the season unless they start playing way over their heads. This obviously isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility but the chances are slim.
It seems like trading away both short term and long term assets at the deadline would have been the best way to go for the Padres future. Whether they end up actually making the playoffs or not, AJ Preller definitely has his work cut out for him in the offseason trying to prepare this team to compete in 2016 and beyond. The Padres have a lot of money tied up in a few players next year and, save a large payroll increase, they are going to need to make some changes to their roster sooner rather than later.