With the July 31st trade deadline coming up, the San Diego Padres’ front office must take a good hard look at themselves in the mirror to find out whether they will be buyers at the deadline for the first time since 2010. If the Padres decide to be buyers, the Padres offense has some holes to fill.
Second base and center field have been inconsistent positions for the San Diego Padres all season.
The center field platoon of Manny Margot and Wil Myers have produced an aggregate .207/.285/.305 slash line this season, good for 29th in all of baseball. Meanwhile, the Ian Kinsler and Greg Garcia tandem at second base have hit a combined .243/.311/.406, ranking 23rd in all of baseball.
While the Padres could call up top prospect Luis Urias to take over duties at second base, the team remains reluctant to do so.
Consequently, the team may look to the trade market to add some much-needed offense to both of these positions.
All-Star Whit Merrifield is a player who can split time defensively at both second base and centerfield while simultaneously improving each position offensively. With a slash line of .310/.357/.504, 11 HR, and 12 SB, Merrifield is a five-tool player who can provide athleticism at the top of the lineup.
The 30-year-old recently signed a team friendly four-year/$16.25 million contract with the Royals, which propels Merrifield’s trade value into the stratosphere. Padres will have to give up a treasure chest of prospects to get Merrifield. Therefore, the likes of Luis Urias and Luis Patino may move the other way in a deal with Kansas City. A high price to pay for one of the more consistent, versatile, and monetarily cheap players in the game, but it’s undeniable that Merrifield would provide control and flexibility for the Padres for years to come.
Fit = 10/10
While the current Padres centerfield tandem is one of baseball’s most offensively inconsistent, Marte, when healthy, is one of the most reliable bats available. A career .286/.339/.445 hitter, Marte normally hits between 10 and 20 HR and steals over 30 bases every year. If acquired, the Padres would be getting a two-time gold glove award winner provides range in the outfield and speed on the basepaths.
Of course, with two years of control beyond 2019 on a team-friendly deal, bringing Marte to San Diego would cost a comparable amount of prospects in comparison to Merrifield.
Also, the addition of Marte would severely limit future chances for Margot and Myers in center field. The Padres could offer one, or both in exchange for Marte. But at this point, both Padres’ centerfielders possess little to no value on the trade market.
Also, will the Pirates be sellers? With a 42-44 record, they are half a game better than the Padres in the NL wild-card standings. What’s more, is that their front office has openly expressed their desire to compete in 2019 if the team continues to hang around. However, with a sub-par minor league system, the Pirates may end up waving the white flag and trading players like Marte to increase their chances of competitiveness in the future.
Fit = 7/10
The Reds, who are in a similar position to the Padres, also must decide in the coming weeks if they are buyers or sellers. But with multiple players headed for free agency at the end of 2019, the Reds may deem it necessary to be sellers.
If this is the case, the Padres could inquire about Derek Dietrich. With 18 home runs this season, Dietrich and his gold-chain-wearing, eye-black-mustachioed swagger could be a valuable trade piece regardless of whether the Reds decide to be sellers. With starting second baseman Scooter Gennett back from the injured list, Dietrich has been relegated to a bench role and could be a piece the Reds would be willing to part with via trade.
If acquired, Dietrich would immediately become San Diego’s best offensive option at second base. Additionally, Dietrich has extensive playing experience in left field as well as at all four infield positions in his career. Therefore, if Andy Green prefers the likes of Ian Kinsler or Greg Garcia to start at second base, Dietrich could serve as a late-game double switch option off the bench, a role incredibly vital for any successful national league playoff team.
Unfortunately, Dietrich, who got off to a blazing hot start, hit a mere .140 in 72 at-bats in June. But, if the Padres want to take a chance on Dietrich, the 29-year-old might only cost cash considerations or a player to be named later.
Fit = 5/10
A player with similar defensive versatility to that of Merrifield, Dee Gordon has seen time at both second base and center field over the past two seasons. While Gordon provides league-average defense at second base, his -8 defensive runs saved in center field is among the worst in baseball, according to Fangraphs.
However, what makes Gordon an attractive option is his speed. It’s no secret that the Padres lack baserunning ability, so adding a player like Gordon who can wreak havoc on the basepaths would improve the Padres for the remainder of the season, while also giving them a unique stolen base threat in the postseason.
Unfortunately, the negatives seemingly outweigh the positives with Gordon, as the 31-year-old is still owed $27.8 million over the next two seasons. What’s more is that Gordon does not improve the Padres offensively, His 74 wRC+ is well below the league average of 100 wRC+, is worse than Greg Garcia (111 wRC+) and Wil Myers (94 wRC+), and is only marginally better than Manny Margot (70 wRC+) and Ian Kinsler (71 wRC+).
Unless the Mariners are willing to eat most, if not all of Gordon’s salary, this move doesn’t make much sense for the Padres.
Fit = 2/10
After being sent to the Orioles from Miluakee at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for Jonathan Schoop, Villar has understandably fallen off the radar for most baseball fans. With that being said, it’s easy to forget that in 2016 Villar stole 62 bases for the Brewers en route to being one of the most productive middle infielders in baseball.
While Villar will most likely not return to this kind of form, he remains a serviceable major leaguer with above average speed. With ten home runs and a .256/.326/.421 slash line, Villar would serve as an improvement at second base for the Padres. Also, with 16 steals this season, Villar would give the Padres another stolen base threat besides Fernando Tatis Jr.
With one year of control after this year and the ability to play shortstop, second base, and third base, Villar is essentially a better version of Greg Garcia – a marginal upgrade the Padres will most likely not have to give up much for.
Fit = 8/10
You either love him, or you hate him. Although ‘The Wild Horse’ may be one of baseball’s most polarizing figures, Yasiel Puig may be one of the most intriguing players to watch at the trading deadline. Again, the Reds are still in the Wild Card hunt– but are one bad losing streak away from making players like Puig, who is in the final year of his contract, available on the trade market.
While Puig has gotten into his fair share of on-the-field scuffles this year, it’s undeniable what Puig has done offensively this season. The 28-year-old is hitting .346/.402/.731 with eight home runs over the past month, and with impending free agency on the horizon, the Reds may feel inclined to trade Puig for a cost that’s not beyond the Padres price range.
What’s more is that despite the occasional blunder in the outfield, Puig provides above-average range and throwing arm at all three outfield positions. Sure, Puig’s acquisition would limit at-bats for Myers and Margot for the remainder of the season, but this will be a necessary sacrifice if the Padres hope to make the postseason in 2019.
Fit = 10/10