Grading the San Diego Padres off-season transactions
With a week until pitchers and catchers report to camp and the addition of General Manager Jed Hoyer this past off season, San Diego fans are unsure what to expect this season from the Padres. With much concentration stemming from front-office action this off season there were still big concerns to fill with the starting rotation and corner spots in the outfield.
The Padres losing Jake Peavy last year opened up the check book but weakened their young starting rotation. Peavy might have been the best Padre pitcher ever, if he would have finised his career as a Padre, but the Padres were out of contention and had to concentrate on rebuilding the team. Peavy’s contract was simply too much money for a player who is on the field once every five days and the Padres had no choice but to let him go.
The Padres haven’t had a consistent out fielder since Tony Gwynn retired and now hope to fill the corner spots around center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr.
Like most off seasons, the Padres hibernated through the winter meetings making small talk while hoping to find a gem in the Rule V Draft like last years young superstar shortstop Everth Cabrera.
The Padres sparked the new year with a three-player deal sending third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff to Oakland for two outfielders, Aaron Cunningham and previous Padre Scott Hairston. Cunningham was a high-rated prospect entering last season for the A’s but will most likely begin the year in the minors and Hairston can play any outfield position.
Putting faith in Chase Headley at third base is tough to chew on. He is not a proven hitter, but Bud Black says he is most comfortable at third so we will see. Third base or the “hot corner” is not a position to be replacing a Gold Glove third baseman.
Last year, Kouzmanoff’s bat never came around, but replacing him with last years Padre, Scott Hairston, and putting faith in a player who has yet to produce at the plate is a risk. It does, however, build huge confidence for Headley who was second on the team with a .262 batting average.
If Cunningham can turn into the player he is expected to be, and Headley can turn into an everyday third baseman, then the deal is a steal. But for the time being, the trade receives a C grade.
Keeping the back-end of their bullpen intact was important for the Padres and signing set-up man Mike Adams and closer Heath Bell to one-year deals reassures maintaining late leads. Adams missed most of the season recovering from right shoulder surgery, but once back only allowed three earned runs in 37 innings — including just one earned run in his last 34 games.
Bell led the NL with 42 saves last year and a $4 million deal is worth every penny. Previous Padre closer Trevor Hoffman received a one-year, $6 million deal last year from the Brewers.
The Padres also signed right-handed pitcher Kevin Correia, who lead the Padres with 12 wins last year, avoiding salary arbitration.
The Padres best move was signing 10-year veteran Jon Garland to a one-year deal. Along with his familiarity in the NL West (he played with Arizona and Los Angeles last year), is his ability to stay healthy and go deep in games. He’s made more than 30 starts and pitched 190 plus innings in the past eight seasons.
Garland adds much needed experience to the Padres starting rotation, with young guns Mat Latos, Tim Stauffer, Wade LeBlanc and Clayton Richard, and looks to fill into the second spot behind Chris Young.
Speaking of familiarity with the NL West, the latest signing of veteran catcher Yorvit Torrealba brings all nine-years of experience to the Pads. He’s played four years with both the Giants and Colorado. Torrealba had his best hitting year last year batting .291 and is a good-defensive catcher who will look to aid the young Padre rotation with his knowledge of the NL West and its hitters.
Torrealba will share time with third-year catcher Nick Hundley who within the past two seasons with the Padres has yet to hit over .240. Neither player presents a big stick at the plate unable to hit double-digit home runs in a season. The Padres were in desperate need of another catcher and Torrealba will fill in well behind the plate especially if he can produce at bat similar to last year.
Although the Padres were unable find a bat to compliment Adrian Gonzalez, they were still able to solidify their rotation and bullpen all while adding good role/bench players.
Overall, the Padres deserve an off-season grade of a low B.
You couldn’t expect much from the Padres this off season because of the obstacles they were presented with before the off-season began, but to add veteran players with NL West experience will bode huge confidence for one of the youngest teams in all of baseball.