After yet another unproductive season from Padres shortstops, the team has decided to look for help outside of the organization. With the Monday morning acquisition of Luis Sardinas from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later, the Padres have yet another shortstop to place in the minors to vie for big league playing time going forward.
After an unproductive first four months of the season, Alexei Ramirez has seen a decline in playing time as Nick Noonan has earned himself more playing time. Even so, there still is a dearth of good infield talent at the upper levels, leaving the Padres in a bit of a bind to replace Ramirez going forward. Enter Luis Sardinas.
Originally signed out of Venezuela in 2009 by the Texas Rangers, in a move that now Padre GM AJ Preller played a big part in, Sardinas has struggled in Seattle since being acquired by the Mariners from the Brewers last offseason. Prior to that, Sardinas was a part of the trade that brought Yovani Gallardo from the Brewers to the Rangers in the previous offseason. Given the Rangers depth of infield talent, Sardinas was clearly an expendable piece despite his prospect pedigree at the time.
At one point, Sardinas was one of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball. Following the 2013 season, before his major league debut with the Rangers in 2014, Sardinas was not only the second best prospect in the Rangers system but also a top 100 prospect in baseball. However, since that debut, Sardinas has struggled in parts of three seasons with three different teams. The Padres will be the fourth team for Sardinas in the last three seasons.
Throughout his minor league tenure in Texas and then Milwaukee and Seattle, Sardinas was known as being a glove first player. With 60 grade speed and defense/throwing arm, it was clear that Sardinas was no slouch when it came to providing the intangibles. Even more importantly, Sardinas has plenty of positional versatility, as he has not only played shortstop but also plenty of second base and third base as well. However, Sardinas has struggled to hit enough at any level to this point, leaving plenty of doubts about his long-term future. Obviously those doubts are pretty glaring, as two teams have traded him away in the last calendar year despite his former pedigree.
After having a somewhat respectable debut in 2014, slashing .261/.303/.313 in 125 plate appearances with the Texas Rangers, Sardinas has taken quite a step back the last two years with the Brewers and Mariners. In 2015 with the Brewers, Sardinas slashed only .196/.240/.216 in 105 plate appearances, and was even worse for the Mariners this year, slashing only .181/.203/.264 in 77 plate appearances in Seattle.
Most alarming of all for Sardinas is his failure to hit Triple-A pitching this season, as the young shortstop only slashed .252/.295/.276 for the Mariners Triple-A affiliate. All in all, Sardinas has lost most of the prospect luster he had three short seasons ago. Even so, he could potentially be a great pickup for the Padres if a change of scenery does him well. Similarly to another player the Mariners weren’t sold on, Jabari Blash, Sardinas could be a player the Padres see as part of the long term future.
In the midst of what is now a full-scale rebuild, the Padres really have nothing to lose by taking chances on players like Blash or Sardinas. The worst that can happen is these players don’t work out and they move on to the next guy. This type of low risk-high reward move is just the type of move the Padres should be making at this point in the season. Sardinas could be nothing at all, or he could be something special. He will report to Triple-A with the Chihuahuas and we will all soon find out.