‘Tis the season for trade rumors and the Padres are in the thick of things once again.
According to Jon Morosi, the Boston Red Sox have expressed interest in Padres All-Star closer Kirby Yates. Yates is having an other-worldly season with a 1.05 ERA, and a ridiculous 403 ERA+ with 31 saves thus far, easily the most impressive closer on the market this year.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 22, 2019
What would it take for the Padres to part with their stud closer? Do the Red Sox have enough firepower to put the best offer on the table? FanGraphs ranks the Red Sox’s farm system as the worst in baseball, so if there is a trade to be had here, it likely will not come via the minor leagues.
The Padres are interested in acquiring MLB-ready talent at this point. The organization has evolved past needing teenage studs to stock the lower levels of their farm system. San Diego’s window opens next season, and they will likely demand a return for Yates that nets pieces to add to the current big league roster.
If the Red Sox want Yates, that means they still see themselves as contenders. Thus they likely will not be willing to deal many pieces from their current big league roster.
Of course, players like Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez are off the table, all of which have at least one more year of control and Boston rarely takes long to reload. With a weak farm system and premier players like the ones listed, Boston seems to be caught in the middle in being able to afford Yates. Either they overpay, sending an All-Star level player to San Diego in return for Yates or they attempt to send prospects, which to the Padres and their stacked farm system, maybe like trying to sell a used Honda to an owner of a Rolls-Royce.
The most pressing need for the Padres in the farm system is a bona fide center fielder. They have a surplus of corner outfielders who can hit well, but after Manuel Margot, the organization lacks a true centerfielder. The jury is still out on Margot, who, ironically, the Padres acquired from Boston for Craig Kimbrel.
The Red Sox’s best center field prospect is Jarren Duran, who ranks as their ninth-best prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline. He has played center field all season for both High-A and Double-A. His bat has not yet found a groove since his promotion to Double-A, batting .213 with a .535 OPS in 42 games after having a .998 OPS in High-A. He has the athletic tools to be a solid center fielder, but as one of the best prospects in Boston’s already thin system, their willingness to part with him maybe nonexistent.
After Duran, there is not a true centerfield prospect the Red Sox have to offer worth the Padres’ time.
Right-handed starting pitcher Bryan Mata also might be a target as a nearly-major league ready starting pitcher. He is currently Boston’s seventh-ranked prospect and has a 3.26 FIP in Double-A Portland. He has a mid-to-high 90s fastball that sinks with a plus changeup and a curveball that is a work in progress. He could be ready for the big leagues sometime next year.
Again, the Padres likely will be more interested in either big league-ready prospects or current members of the Red Sox’s active roster, mainly looking at pitching and outfield. The Red Sox do not have much to offer in their farm system and may be too attached to their big stars that helped them get a World Series title last season.
Andrew Benintendi is a player the Padres may covet on their big league roster, and rightfully so. Boston would scoff at a straight Yates-for-Benintendi swap, and San Diego would have to sweeten the deal. Benintendi has three years of control after this year and is just 25 and is already an established presence in the big leagues. He posted a 3.9 WAR last season, hitting .290 with a .830 OPS while also posting 4 Defensive Runs Saved in left field. This year, his bat has not been as potent (.261 AVG, .759 OPS) but he is still playing solid outfield defense.
He has mainly played left field, so once again, the Padres would not be acquiring a true center fielder, but he has played 64 games in center field for Boston with acceptable results.
To acquire a player like the 2017 A.L. Rookie of the Year runner-up, the Padres would have to throw in a prospect or two to nourish the destitute farm system in Boston. The Red Sox would probably ask the Padres for one of their heralded pitching prospects such as Michel Baez or Adrian Morejon to be thrown into the deal. Thus getting an All-Star closer to have at their disposal through the end of the 2020 season and an exciting, hard-throwing, touted pitching prospect.
In the end, it sounds like a deal with Boston is unlikely. They do not have the prospect firepower nor the major league pieces for which the Padres would spend prospects in addition to Yates. There are many other suitors that present a more favorable outcome for San Diego and Yates.