Offseason In Review: San Diego Padres

New Padres GM Josh Byrnes transformed the team with a series of bold trades.

Major League Signings

Draft Picks Received: #33 and #70 for modified Type A free agent Heath Bell, #44 for Type B Aaron Harang

International Signings

  • OF Franmil Reyes ($700K)

Notable Minor League Signings


Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

In two years' time as Padres GM, Jed Hoyer built one of baseball's best farm systems.  But back in '09, Josh Byrnes would have been owner-in-progress Jeff Moorad's first choice for GM, had Byrnes not been under an eight-year contract issued by Moorad when both were with the Diamondbacks.  Byrnes was fired as D'Backs GM in July 2010, and when Moorad brought him and former manager A.J. Hinch to the Padres' front office a few months later, Hoyer must have felt concern about his job security.  New Cubs president Theo Epstein came calling about Byrnes this offseason, but eventually found Moorad willing to let Hoyer leave.  Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod went to Chicago, and Byrnes took over as Padres GM and promoted Hinch.

Moorad considered the front office changes a net win, but now Byrnes may lose his biggest supporter.  This month, Moorad resigned as CEO, withdrawing his application for complete control of the Padres.  Moorad lacked full support from MLB owners, partly due to years spent as an agent.  There's an expectation that John Moores will go back to the drawing board to try to sell the team.  If new ownership comes aboard, Byrnes' tenure as Padres GM might be short.

Even if Byrnes only had one offseason, he made his mark on the franchise through trades and extensions.  24-year-old starter Mat Latos was the Padres' greatest asset, under team control through 2015.   Teams often build around players like Latos, but Byrnes shipped him to Cincinnati in a four-for-one blockbuster trade.  The Reds were one of few teams with the talent and willingness to pull off a deal of this magnitude.  The Padres may have received their first baseman of the future (Alonso), catcher of the future (Grandal), closer of the future (Boxberger), and two years of an intriguing starter with upside (Volquez).  The Padres took a short-term hit with this trade, but it's an easy long-term win and diversifies their assets.

The Padres already had a first baseman of the future in Rizzo, and sure enough, Hoyer and Theo Epstein came calling for their former Red Sox draft pick.  I agree with the idea of the Padres converting one of the first basemen into a top starting pitching prospect, though I'm not sure Cashner was the right choice.  The 25-year-old began the 2011 season in the Cubs' rotation but missed most of the year with a shoulder injury.  The hard-throwing righty will be used as a reliever in 2012.  Should Cashner remain in that role, anything short of a dominant closer will be a light return if Rizzo lives up to his billing.  Certainly, though, the Padres did their due diligence in determining Cashner has a long-term future as a starter.

Byrnes mostly avoided the free agent market, instead finding a few short-term fixes via trade.  Street was a salary dump for the Rockies, and the trade is similar to Byrnes signing the closer to a one-year, $7MM free agent contract.  Perhaps Byrnes wanted some name value to replace the departed Heath Bell, but Bell himself was once a no-name reliever who blossomed at Petco Park.  Spending $7MM on any closer is an unnecessary luxury for the 2012 Padres.

The Quentin acquisition was confusing as well.  In the Padres' favor, the prospect price for a year of Quentin wasn't ridiculous, and it's easier for them to trade for offense than to find willing free agents on one-year deals.  Still, Byrnes did give up useful prospects for Quentin.  Much like Cashner, Castro had a lost 2011 but still retains plenty of upside.  Pedro Hernandez seems to have a big league future as well.  Perhaps Castro wasn't particularly high on the Padres' stacked prospect depth chart, and they wanted to make some short-term efforts.  

Byrnes also authored extensions for Maybin and Hundley.  The Maybin extension cost more than I thought it would, especially for the arbitration years.  There's still value for the Padres in the chance that Maybin breaks out and especially in what would have been the center fielder's first two free agent years.  Still, Maybin's agent Brian Goldberg drove a hard bargain for a player whose best season to date included a .264 batting average, nine home runs, and 40 RBI.  Snagging Hundley's three arbitration years for $9MM, plus a club option, is more of a clear win for the team.

This much is clear about Byrnes: he's not a timid GM.  He evaluated key players in the Padres organization and made significant bets on some and against others, in an offseason that should affect the team long after Byrnes is gone.

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14 Comments on "Offseason In Review: San Diego Padres"

3 years 5 months ago

Josh Byrnes, B+ man.

3 years 5 months ago

Going into this off-season, my biggest issue was how to proceed with Latos. With the thinking that going into next year on a one-year contract (doing nothing) was the worst outcome, as his cost would shoot up from the 5yr/30m level to possibly a guy with little incentive to sign, as top arms like Hernandez & Verlander got 5/70m-ish deals by waiting another year, so if they were going to sign him, now was the time. If they weren’t willing to give him that 5/30m, I wanted to see them shop him.

Thinking more about Latos from the team’s perspective, you can imagine the risk in giving him 30m this early in the game, and not because of injuries like with all pitchers, but the fact your making an immature ballplayer filthy rich at a young age, which is a pretty potent combination. Personality is rarely given much consideration when considering who should and shouldn’t be given contracts early in their careers, particularly if they pitch as well as Latos did. Would love to read someone’s study on how Latos first 2+ seasons faired to all other homegrown types. At the same point in their careers, Latos’ results were I’d say far superior then Peavy’s.

In Latos case I think trading him was rather smart. Giving him the money right now is playing with fire, which is a shame because his talent more then merited it.

I give Byrnes a lot of credit for having the cajones to deal Latos when he did, I can’t see many teams doing that.

3 years 5 months ago

Balls indeed.  However, Cincy and SD both won on that deal.  Latos is a star, with some of the nastiest stuff I have ever seen.  He makes batters look silly.  Cincy is obviously making a run at a championship while they still can.

The Padres have tons of young arms that can pitch now, like Luebke and Bass…and very soon, like Wieland and Kelly.  So the Latos trade was less risky than it seems.

I have never been a big supporter of dumping stars for prospects – but both Hoyer and Byrnes have done a great job of procuring quality players.

3 years 5 months ago

 Couldn’t agree more!

3 years 5 months ago

I like what has been done thus far. I think for the medium-sized market they’re in they made some very shrewd moves.

3 years 5 months ago

Forget the Catcher the Padres signed in the international market for $1.1m, Ruiz.

3 years 5 months ago

I love what the Padres did this offseason but with their catching(Hundley, Grandal, Baker) and first base(Alonso, Guzman, Blanks) depth they have really left a lot of blockage on their team in those positions with a still-shallow middle infield and rotation. They have a lot of potential but this team could be a whole lot better with another trade or two in my eyes.

Phenomenal Smith
3 years 5 months ago

If my understanding of the new CBA is correct, the Quentin and Street trades were not confusing at all. Compensation draft picks can still be acquired if a free agent is offered a one-year contract for the average of the top 125 salaries in that year, and that free agent turns it down. After this season, Quentin and Street are likely to be offered a one-year contract in the 10-12M range, and they are likely to turn it down and explore the market for multi-year deals. The Padres will then get more draft picks to further stock a dramatically re-built farm system. 

The catch is that this only applies to players who have been with the team the entire year. That is, you can’t trade for players like these at the deadline and get draft picks. This is a truly savvy move by Byrnes; this is straight out of the Billy Beane playbook in trading for impending free agents for draft picks, only it’s before the season starts instead of at the trade deadline.

3 years 5 months ago

…except Quentin is injury-prone and plays lousy defense. He’s already going to miss half of April with knee surgery. Very risky signing in my opinion.

3 years 5 months ago

The Padres aren’t going to offer Huston Street arbitration and risk paying him 12m or so in 2013. The pick would be nice, but with that kind of risk, forget about it. Unless Street agreed to decline beforehand, why wouldn’t he simply accept if it meant getting 3-4m more then K-Rod or Masden got this year?? I’m not expecting the demand for his services to be there for the Padres to go that route.  Quentin produces and is still a Padre, he would likely be offered. Between his health & Petco, I wouldn’t put those odds any higher then 25%.

3 years 5 months ago

I think the most important off season move will be to see who ends up owning the Padres.  In my opinion the last thing the Padres need is another ownership committee.  I truly hope Stan Kroenke shows some interest in buying the team.  He would have to put the club in his sons name because of some crazy NFL rule, but an owner who stays out of the daily business of the team and has deep pockets would be great.

3 years 5 months ago

I think Drew Macias is with the Angels, not the Padres.

3 years 5 months ago

He has been horrible this spring….

3 years 5 months ago

He is healthy, which means something.  He will get a shot in the bullpen or at some point in the season – but the rotation is pretty much set.  Petco and Darren Balsly, the pitching coach, work wonders on reclamation projects like Owings.  He seems like a decent guy, I hope he makes a comeback.