If The Padres Become Sellers

Having lost their last three games, the Padres are 19-28, in last place and 8.5 games out in the NL West.  They're second to last in the league with 3.51 runs scored per game, though at 4.40 the offense has been much better in May.  The Padres' starters carry an unspectacular 4.16 ERA, while their bullpen remains on top at 2.30.

Padres GM Jed Hoyer tried for the best of both worlds during the offseason, trading his best player in Adrian Gonzalez while also importing a bunch of bounceback candidate veterans in hopes of remaining competitive.  Perhaps 2010 was just an anomaly in the Padres' rebuilding process, and Hoyer will continue thinking long-term when the trade deadline approaches in a couple of months.  In that case, who might be available?

  • Closer Heath Bell sports a 1.13 ERA on the season.  Like Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan, the 33-year-old Bell has traded a bunch of strikeouts for an improved groundball rate this season.  Bell is earning $7.5MM and will be eligible for free agency after the season; there's a good chance his team can offer arbitration and net a pair of draft picks.  The Nationals were able to extract highly-rated catching prospect Wilson Ramos from the Twins for closer Matt Capps last year.  Capps came with an additional year of control but without Bell's pedigree.  Still, even an Octavio Dotel rental netted the Pirates James McDonald and Andrew Lambo.
  • I can picture the Padres dealing Bell or Mike Adams, though moving both would be bold.  There's a case to be made that Adams has more trade value – he owns a 0.87 ERA through 20 2/3 innings, has much stronger peripheral stats than Bell, and is under team control for 2012 at a salary unlikely to reach $5MM.  Chad Qualls sits a level below Bell and Adams and figures to be dealt.  He's not striking batters out, but he is keeping the ball on the ground and it's worked so far.
  • Ryan Ludwick owns a .224/.304/.373 line in 425 Padres plate appearances dating back to last year, work that would get most players designated for assignment.  Silver lining: he's at .289/.331/.526 since April 20th.  If Ludwick maintains that production over the next two months, he'll be one of the better bats available and should net the Padres a decent prospect. 
  • Brad Hawpe has a similar story, in that he's heated up this month.  Hawpe is cheaper, but he also carries more of a platoon bat reputation and has been shielded from lefties this year.  The other half of that platoon, Jorge Cantu, has been terrible and might not make it to the trade deadline.
  • Padres prospect Jedd Gyorko is doing major damage in High-A ball, though they'll probably still want Chase Headley around in the $4MM range next year.  Headley, who ranks fifth in the league with 27 walks, would be worth listening on now though.  He doesn't have the power of a typical third baseman, but there's not much better on the trade market aside from perhaps Wilson Betemit.
  • Aaron Harang has a 4.31 ERA in nine starts on the season, with peripheral stats similar to last year.  Only three of his starts have come away from PETCO, and he pitched well in two of them.  Harang has shown the skills of a 4.50 ERA pitcher, though that was true last year as well.  The difference is that he's earning $4MM this year instead of $14.5MM, so a contender should be willing to take a flier.
  • I've analyzed four other potential sellers so far: the Astros, Twins, Diamondbacks, and Pirates.

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