Padres trade candidates haven’t exactly been lining up to exchange players and/or cash considering they’ve been on a tear this season. With two straight series wins, the latest being a three-game sweep of St. Louis, and now currently ranking number one in the NL West, it’s hard to argue that the Padres need to make any moves to strengthen their team. Padres GM A.J. Preller may be thinking this but even the most dominant teams need to beef up their squad in order to secure long-term success. Below we will be examing the three potential players the Padres are looking to ship out in order to gain more help in their lineup and bullpen.
Padres Trade Candidates: The Chopping Block
First Up: Tommy Pham, LF
Considering Pham was drafted in 2006 by St. Louis but didn’t get called up until 2014 and was finally able to solidify a spot in the starting lineup, the Cards weren’t so quick to give him a long-term deal. Even though his production kept him around for some time, he was ultimately shipped off to Tampa Bay at the trade deadline in 2018 where he spent the remainder of the season. Even with this acquisition, it seemed that the Rays weren’t content and decided to send him to San Diego in a five-player deal, which included teammate Jake Cronenworth, before the start of last season.
Since his arrival in San Diego, Pham hasn’t been able to muster much success at the plate slashing .211/.312/.312 in 109 at-bats during the pandemic-ridden 2020 season. His numbers haven’t gone much higher this season as his current slash line stands at .196//328/.235 through 102 at-bats with 24 of those ending in a strikeout, three less than his 2020 total of 27. This may not concern some since the middle of the season hasn’t come to pass yet but we all know that the quicker a player gets going, the better he’ll be come playoff time. Pham also has stiff competition against left fielder and fellow teammate, Jurickson Profar, who’s currently slashing .234/.333/.308 in 107 at-bats this season and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Possible Destination: Baltimore Orioles
This type of situation would be the best for Pham as the O’s currently sit in last place in the AL East and have young faces like Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, and DJ Stewart patrolling the outfield. What benefits Pham here is the fact that he would be given a consistent role in the lineup rather than splitting time with teammates and the Orioles would gain veteran presence amongst the younger players, something they desperately need. This swap would see Hays going to San Diego and Baltimore grabbing Pham while also absorbing the veteran’s one-year, $8,900,000 contract which leaves more cap space for San Diego as well as the ability to grab other talent towards the end of the trade deadline.
With the addition of Hays on San Diego’s roster, Profar would have sole possession of left field as well as the ability to grab a consistent role in the lineup. Adding a young face like Hays would also benefit the Padres as they gain a player who has experience in all three outfield positions and the potential to grow into a starter with help from his veteran peers.
On Deck: Chris Paddack, SP
Since a solid rookie season in 2019 that saw him finish with a 9-7 record and 3.33 ERA, Paddack hasn’t been able to regain that same form. In the 2020 season, we witnessed Paddack’s ERA swell to 4.75 with a 4-5 win/loss record in 12 starts and so far this season his struggles have been plaguing him as he’s been unable to find his sweet spot due to injury and inconsistency. Mix this in with the fact that his ERA remains at a steady 4.45 with a 1-3 win/loss record in only seven starts and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Since his reinstatement from the 10-day IL, he seems to be finding his fastball again as he went three strong innings against the San Francisco Giants on May 9th and recorded four strikeouts in the process–all of them ending with a fastball. Maybe he found his groove again but so far it remains to be seen if he’s gained the confidence to produce more consistent outings since his return.
Potential Destination: Tampa Bay Rays
Even with Paddack struggling early this season, the Rays have seen former star pitchers Blake Snell and Charlie Morton go to San Diego and Atlanta which has left them searching for another addition to their rotation. They gained Chris Archer, Rich Hill, and Michael Wacha this past offseason but the problem with these three is that it’s anyone’s guess as to how their seasons could play out. With Archer on the 60-day IL, the addition of Paddack could prove to be the difference as they compete in a tough AL East division which includes starters like Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, and Chris Sale (currently on the IL).
With the Padres looking to add another bullpen arm, the Rays could be exchanging right-hander Pete Fairbanks and cash considerations for Paddack in a win-win deal. Fairbanks has pitched 5.2 innings this season with a 1.59 ERA and seven strikeouts through six games with Tampa which could prove useful for San Diego.
In The Hole: Austin Nola, C
With the addition of Victor Caratini in the Yu Darvish trade this past offseason, Austin Nola has seen his time as a starting catcher dwindle into more of a backup role. Through 41 games this season, Nola has started 13 of them while also batting .250 in 32 plate appearances accompanied by 10 RBIs. These numbers mixed in with his limited playing time are only a fraction of the production that he had last year as the starting catcher which can prove to be frustrating for a player over time.
Even though he was acquired through a trade with Seattle in the middle of the season last year, the 31-year old’s talent continued to shine as he was able to finish the season with a .222 average, seven home runs, and 28 RBIs. That was down from a .306 average he had with Seattle but still finishing slightly below the mendoza line could be the difference between where he gets traded and when.
Possible Destination: Texas Rangers
Gone are the days where Ivan Rodriguez would don the start for the Rangers and ever since his departure, they’ve been struggling to find that next star to stick with behind the plate. Currently, Jose Trevino has been taking on the starting catcher duties for the Rangers with Jonah Heim in the mix but neither of them has turned into what the organization had in mind even with Trevino batting a decent .253 so far this season. This organization could look to call up catching prospect Sam Huff (.355 average in 2020), but with a “win quickly or be fired” environment in modern-day sports, trading for Nola would be much easier than waiting for a prospect to develop.
A swap for Nola and Trevino could take place which would be good for both teams considering the Padres would receive a solid backup for Caratini and Texas would hopefully have their starting catcher that they’ve been looking for. With this move in place, I think both teams can walk away satisfied knowing that who they got will contribute to their organization as the season trails on.
Padres Trade Candidates: Final Thoughts
Whether any of these deals go through remains to be seen but if they were to play out, I think that we would be seeing an already powerful team become even mightier with the addition of some of these players. With the trade deadline approaching in two months’ time, all teams still have a chance to allow certain players to develop amidst the playing time they receive. The Padre’s next matchup will be against the Colorado Rockies on May 18th on their home turf in San Diego with Blake Snell taking the bump in his ninth start of the year.
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