The play of Upton over the past few months has been really refreshing. He is a rare talent that can truly hurt an opposing team on defense or offense. The style of play that Upton brings to the table everyday is a type that the Padres should focus on drafting and attaining. The game is embracing defense more and more and surely a player that can take away runs while on the field is important. With all this being said, why deal Upton then?
The San Diego Padres are realistically a few years from being really good. He is signed through next season at a hefty $16.5 million dollars per season. That is a lot of money. Well worth the price if Upton is playing the way he is, but you have to figure his value is never really going to be higher. When the team traded for Upton he was viewed as a horrible contract and the price a team had to pay in order to acquire Craig Kimbrel. Preller got a great deal in spinning Kimbrel for four choice prospects. If he can now move Upton (once viewed as untradeable) and get a return of prospects, then he will be on cloud nine. Also factor in that the Padres have plenty of young outfielders in the minors ready to play. Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Alex Dickerson and Jabari Blash are all pretty much major league ready and Travis Jankowski is already on the Padres 25-man roster. If the Padres receive a decent offer for Upton, they will probably jump on it.
This is a tricky one here. Some in the fan base see him as the best player on the team (not named Myers) and a veteran who plays everyday. When it is all said and done he will put up the (old school) numbers you seek from a middle of the order hitter. However his defense is abysmal and he from time to time has the aura about him that he doesn’t care. That frustrates a lot of fans. Kemp is a ballplayer. He has learned to stay mostly stoic with his emotions and with that he does appear to be content from time to time with failure. It’s a fine line. Sure you want emotion from a player when they fail, but at the same time if they show too much emotion they are viewed as selfish. He will always have that stigma attached to him but that isn’t his only issue.
Matt Kemp is clearly on the decline. He should be in the American League where he can DH from time to time. That will keep his legs fresh and thus produce a better Kemp offensively. It will take some real A.J. Preller magic for the Padres to move Kemp without having to eat at least half his remaining contract. Hunter Renfroe is the prototypical right fielder with a golden arm and thunder in his bat. Kemp’s time in San Diego should be coming to an end. If the Padres were willing to eat $30 million to get rid of Shields, they should be more than happy to eat $40 million to move Kemp. The return for Kemp would be minimal unless Preller can work some “Jedi Mind Trick” magic. It is widely reported the team has been shopping Kemp, so do not be surprised if he is finally moved and the Hunter Renfroe era kicks off.
The possibility of dealing Cashner is based on his health. He just returned from injury this past weekend and looked to be recovered from his back issues. The 2016 season is his last year under contract as he is due for free agency at the end of the year. The big right hander has battled injuries throughout his career and this year has been no different. On Mother’s Day Cashner strained his leg and was forced to miss two weeks. The latest injury cost the pitcher three weeks. He is 3-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 12 starts this year. His injuries have been unrelated to his arm which is a positive thing for a prospective trade partner. His trade value is luke-warm at best. He could be a nice low-cost pickup for a contending team.
The qualifying offer and the compensation pick associated with it is what is at risk here. If the Padres decide to keep Cashner and offer him a qualifying offer, he has the right to refuse it and elect for free agency. The exact situation that happened last year with Ian Kennedy and the reason why the Padres received the #26 pick in the draft. They turned that pick into Kent State left-handed pitcher Eric Lauer who is on the fast track to major league service time. Cashner could garner a compensation pick, but the Padres would be risking a lot in extending him the offer. The trade window will close August 1st for Cashner, so a decision will have to be made very soon. The big Texan has a high likelihood to be dealt in my opinion. I do not believe the team will risk it with him and some team will pay the asking price for the right hander. His upside is tantalizing.
Each could be dealt if the price tag is met. Solarte is a solid hitter but seems to struggle defensively from time to time. The team has many options at second base currently and Solarte probably isn’t a long-term option at third. The Padres are in no rush to move him however and a team would really need to over-pay at this point for the Padres to move the infielder. Solarte is under team control cheaply for the next few seasons and the Padres have bigger contracts to move. Buchter has really come out of nowhere to become a solid presence in the bullpen. He probably would not be dealt, but again if a team is willing to over-pay, then the Padres will surely listen. Expect Buchter to be retained and also expect Solarte to be kept unless a mega-deal is consummated with a team like the Texas Rangers. I can very easily see a Cashner, Norris and Solarte package going to Texas for some real high level talent.
The next few weeks will be really exciting for Padres fans. The team is playing better and you can see manager Andy Green maturing as a skipper. With that the future of the team is bright. Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot are showing that they can be productive players. All they need is the at bats and the time. It is exciting to be able to see young players like this trio work with and play along side Wil Myers. The method to A.J. Preller’s madness is taking shape. The ownership group is standing tall to support this man and his beliefs and the fan base should too. The results will come and when they do it won’t just be a one-year run. This team will compete for the long-run and change the face of this franchise. It all starts this year. It all starts these next few weeks before the trade deadline. It all starts now. Go Padres!