There’s no denying that this off-season has left much to be desired – not only regarding the Padres, but across Major League Baseball. While actual transactions have seemed to be lacking, grandiose rumors have taken the city of San Diego by storm.
At this point,the team may just enter into spring training without making any major moves. To some fans this would be a bad thing. Others will take a deep sigh of relief. Maybe it’s all just been talk. A fun way for people to offer up their creativity in the form of fantasy baseball-esque trade speculations. Certainly, some members of the media have leaked rumors (sometimes unfounded) in order to build up some hype for themselves and their outlets.
Are these things bad? Frustrating, yes, but maybe they serve a purpose. It seems that the rumors have created a serious debate among Padres fans at a crucial time in the team’s development. Will the team stick to the process of a committed rebuild or will they stop half-way and start trying to win as early as next season?
I’ll just go ahead and say it: I am dedicated to a hard rebuild. I don’t believe we should be trading any of our top prospects at this time. I don’t even really want us to be trading our second or third tier prospects unless we get incredible value in return. I don’t have a problem with the team signing free-agents at this point, but only to inexpensive, short-term, deals. Ultimately, the goal of these signings would be to flip at the trade deadline for interesting prospects.
Why do I take this position? I believe in the law of large numbers. The more lottery tickets the team compiles in the system, the better chances they have to put together a team of homegrown winners. We want homegrown winners because they are cost-effective and under team control for an extended period of time. If we do it this way, the Padres can have a whole team of winners for the better side of a decade, if not longer. When their homegrown players become eligible for free agency, the team can choose which ones they actually want to offer big contracts to. It’s a matter of getting ahead of the market.
I’ll relate this idea to the two biggest Padres rumors floating around at the moment.
Signing Eric Hosmer at anything over the $100 million range, for more than 5 years, is a mistake. Even paying him that much is too much. Granted, as a young, left-handed slugger, he is one of the better, high-profile, free agents for the Padres to be interested in, but he is simply not worth the risk. For one, he’s a first baseman. They don’t age well. The team could be stuck with an expensive, underperforming player for years to come simply because they couldn’t show patience in a limited market. Why should the team commit such resources to a player before they even know what they truly have to work with? The prospects in the system need at least another year to develop before a proper assessment can be made regarding which holes need to be filled in free agency. He’s a talented player, but he doesn’t fit the team right now, plain and simple. If we have to squint to see him as a part of this team in the future, we don’t need him.
Trading for Christian Yelich would be another mistake. Yes, Yelich is a great player and any team would be lucky to have him, but his price tag is too high. The Marlins will certainly demand one or more of Fernando Tatis, Luis Urias, Michel Baez, or Mackenzie Gore in return. It’s been reported that they have asked the Braves for Christian Acuna as part of a deal for Yelich. If the Padres chose to part with any of those players, they would be greatly bidding against the longevity of their success in the coming years. Again, of course, I concede that Yelich is an outstanding player, but his acquisition would be a symbol of the team’s impatience.
I didn’t like the Freddy Galvis trade. I’ll tell you why. It’s not that I don’t like Freddy Galvis. I think he’s a decent player and he seems like a good guy. I just think he’s not really right for this team. We traded Enyel De Los Santos for Galvis. De Los Santos was basically a second tier prospect with us. We will never know what he would have become as a Padre. Maybe nothing, maybe something. We do know that Galvis is, more likely than not, a one-year placeholder at shortstop. Someone in our system will not get the opportunity to develop at the major league level at that position. Had we held off on Galvis, it might have been Jose Rondon, who we just released. Like De Los Santos, we won’t know what Rondon’s potential as a Padre truly was. Simply put, we should be testing out our prospects to determine their potential, not playing stopgaps that give us no information for the future.
I believe that the Yangervis Solarte move was positive. In return for Solarte, the Padres got Edward Olivares and Jared Carkuff from the Blue Jays. Olivares is a speedy, right-handed center-fielder with some power potential. He has a good deal of upside. Carkuff was somewhat of a throw in, not much to dream on. Solarte was a solid player and a good teammate, but ultimately, not someone who was going to be with the Padres in the long run. The team netted another prospect in Olivares to add to pool of talent. The move aligns with the rebuild process.
Signing Tyson Ross and Chris Young to minor league deals were positive moves. There is virtually no risk there. The team will be paying these players pennies on the dollar to try out for the team in spring training. If either of them end up succeeding with the team, it would be a net positive. They would be providing low-cost production and the fans would get some old favorites back on the field. Best case scenario, the team can flip the revamped pitchers at the trade deadline, a la Fernando Rodney in 2016.
The Jabari Blash for Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell deal was pretty neutral, to be honest. Yes, Headley is going to cost the team $13 million for the 2018 season (if they don’t trade him) but if Mitchell can somehow put it together in the ways that the scouting department imagines, he could become a valuable asset.
I’ll admit that I have a very specific view of what I think it means to “trust the process.” I’ve lived in San Diego for virtually my entire life. Trust me when I say that I want the Padres to be champions. I understand that it’s difficult to watch our team seemingly float around in mediocrity at the Major League level. Especially when the rest of the N.L. West is experiencing such success.I want to see the Padres make it to the World Series, but not just once, followed by decades of losing seasons. I’ve been on that ride before. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on how they think the team should operate. I think I am just someone who really appreciates systems. I get a certain satisfaction from seeing a process develop from start to finish. I want to see what the team has started through to an organic conclusion. My hypothesis is that if the team practices patience and stays the course on a hard rebuild, they will be perennial winners for a long time.