- Tyson Ross has received multiple medical opinions over the past couple of weeks, skipper Andy Green told Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and surgery to repair his right shoulder is a possibility. Ross, naturally, prefers to avoid that endgame, and he’s exploring all possible alternatives for the time being. The Padres hope to have a plan mapped out for Ross by the end of the regular season, Lin writes, and an ultimate decision could come later this week. Ross is earning $9.625MM this season but pitched only once for the Friars, on Opening Day, before going down with a shoulder injury that would eventually wipe out his entire season. Additionally, Lin writes that righty Jarred Cosart underwent an MRI and X-rays on his right elbow to determine the severity of a bone spur that he said he’s been pitching through.
Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz won’t make another start this season, manager John Farrell told reporters, including WEEI’s Rob Bradford. Pomeranz has been feeling some soreness in his left forearm and has also pitched a career-high 169 1/3 innings this season whilst splitting the year between San Diego and Boston. Farrell stated that Pomeranz came out of his last start “a little more sore” but emphasized that the lefty isn’t being shut down and will hopefully make a bullpen appearance before season’s end. If Pomeranz is deemed healthy enough, he could be a bullpen option in the postseason, but his status for the playoffs remains unclear, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.
The news on Pomeranz is magnified by the fact that the Red Sox were reportedly unhappy with the lack of medical information disclosed by the Padres prior to the trade that sent Pomeranz to Boston in exchange for top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. Major League Baseball has already suspended San Diego general manager A.J. Preller for 30 days, without pay, due to the fact that the Padres withheld medical information in the Pomeranz trade. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that Red Sox officials declined comment about the specifics of what was withheld today in the wake of Farrell’s announcement, but it was “very clear” that the officials to whom he spoke are angry.
Bradford tweets that in spite of this recent development, the Pomeranz case will remain closed. Reports at the time of Preller’s suspension indicated that the White Sox, among other teams, were “enraged” with the Padres and felt that they were knowingly deceived, but based on Bradford’s tweet, it doesn’t appear that there will be any further action taken against San Diego. The 27-year-old Pomeranz pitched to a 2.47 ERA in 102 innings with the Padres this year, but his performance has slipped with the BoSox, as he’s worked to a more pedestrian 4.68 ERA in 67 1/3 innings. Boston controls him via arbitration for another two seasons beyond the current campaign.
- The Padres continue to support GM A.J. Preller, who’s currently suspended due to disputes over medical information the team withheld from other teams in trade negotiations. The team’s ownership expects, however, that when Preller returns he will improve the medical and training practices that got him into hot water. An even bigger issue for Preller might be earning the trust of executives from other teams, who he’ll have to continue to trade with despite a series of disputes.
Rebuilding season or not, falling short of the playoffs and finishing with a losing record probably means that more things went wrong than went right for a team. This series, however, will focus on those silver linings that each team can take away from an otherwise disappointing season.
[Related: “Top Bright Spots” archive]
Here are the biggest bright spots for the San Diego Padres.
1. Ryan Schimpf, 2B
In seven years with the Blue Jays, Schimpf was never even added to the team’s 40-man roster. It’s safe to assume that they didn’t think he was capable of having anywhere near the success he’s had with the Padres (.890 OPS, 19 homers, 15 doubles, five triples in 79 games). To be fair, neither did the 29 teams who passed on Schimpf whenever he was available in the Rule 5 draft. His unimpressive stints in Triple-A (.648 OPS in 2014; .607 OPS in 2015), despite success at every other level, probably helped to keep him off the radar.
For the 28-year-old, who signed a Minor League deal with the Padres this past offseason, it took a 1.160 OPS with 15 homers in 51 games for Triple-A El Paso to finally earn a big league call-up in mid-June. Schimpf got off to 3-for-29 start, but he’s been one of the most productive hitters in baseball since July 1, posting a .946 OPS and 37 extra-base hits in that time.
Schimp’s arrival has seemingly created a logjam at second base with Cory Spangenberg coming back from injury and Carlos Asuaje coming off of a terrific Triple-A season. In reality, though, there’s no way that a guy who just hit 19 homers in a two-and-a-half month span while playing solid defense won’t be penciled into the projected lineup for 2017.
The Padres have designated outfielder Patrick Kivlehan and infielder Nick Noonan for assignment, the team announced. Their 40-man roster spots were needed for the team’s wave of prospect call-ups, which were also made official.
Though he earned his first MLB promotion, hitting well in just five games of action, Kivlehan will presumably find his way to another club after a year of constant change. (San Diego was his third team in 2016.) Kivlehan spent most of the season at the highest level of the minors, posting a .254/.302/.416 slash with a dozen homers in 397 trips to the dish.
Noonan, 27, received only brief major league time this season — his first as a member of an organization other than the division-rival Giants. Over 374 plate appearances at Triple-A, Noonan has posted a .301/.338/.427 batting line.
With the Triple-A postseason now complete, the Padres announced late Tuesday night that they have promoted top outfield prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot as well as catcher Austin Hedges, second baseman Carlos Asuaje and lefties Buddy Baumann and Jose Torres in a final wave of September call-ups. Of the bunch, Renfroe and Margot rank firmly within the game’s top 100 prospects, while Asuaje ranks as one of the Padres’ best prospects after coming to San Diego alongside Margot in the Craig Kimbrel blockbuster. Hedges, meanwhile, is a former top 100 prospect in his own right that saw his rookie status expire while struggling in the Majors last season but enjoyed a monstrous season in Triple-A this year.
Starting with Margot, the 21-year-old center fielder currently ranks 16th, 20th, 27th and 39th on the respective midseason top prospect lists compiled by Baseball Prospectus, ESPN’s Keith Law, MLB.com and Baseball America. Margot was one of the headliners of the Padres’ return for Kimbrel and demonstrated many of the reasons that he’s so well-regarded with a strong 2016 season in which he batted .304/.351/.426 with six homers, 21 doubles, 12 triples and 30 stolen bases in 566 plate appearances at the Triple-A level despite being more than five years younger than the league’s average age.
Scouting reports peg Margot as a plus defensive center fielder due to his above-average speed and strong reads, and it should be mentioned that he racked up 18 outfield assists in Triple-A this year. His hit tool draws strong reviews as well, with the only real questions regarding his skill set centering around his power (or potential lack thereof). Even if he’s not a big threat in terms of clearing the fences, though, Margot profiles as a regular that works the count, hits for average, gets on base, steals bases and plays quality defense.
Renfroe, meanwhile, ranked 41st on MLB.com’s list, 43rd on BP’s and 66th on BA’s. The 24-year-old was the No. 13 overall pick back in 2013, and while his arrival to the Majors took longer than some might’ve anticipated, he’s hit quite well in parts of two seasons with Triple-A, slashing a combined .310/.339/.568 with 36 homers in 154 games. Those numbers, of course, are aided somewhat by the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, and it’d be encouraging to see Renfroe walk in more than four percent of his Triple-A plate appearances. But, his 20.5 percent strikeout rate isn’t through the roof, and the reports on him laud his raw power and bat speed as well as his arm strength in right field (where he fell just shy of Margot with 17 outfield assists this season). Even if his discipline never improves, Renfroe could be an power-oriented regular with an OBP in the low .300s and solid defense in right field.
Turning to Asuaje, MLB.com rates him 20th among San Diego farmhands and praises his contact skills, hand-eye coordination and gap power/line-drive stroke. Asuaje is listed at 5’9″ and 160 pounds, so the odds of him ever hitting for much power, especially playing his home games at Petco Park, are fairly long. though MLB.com’s report on him does mention his “surprising” pop and give him a chance to crack double digits in homers. The 24-year-old Asuaje was brilliant with El Paso this season, hitting .321/.378/.473 with nine homers, 32 doubles and 11 triples. He’ll be in the mix for the second base job in 2017, and even if he loses out to breakout slugger Ryan Schimpf or a returning Cory Spangenberg, Asuaje could crack the roster as a utility player. He’s appeared at third base, left field and (briefly) shortstop throughout his minor league tenure and could help the Friars at a number of positions.
Hedges didn’t receive the call-up that many (myself included) were anticipating earlier this season due largely to the fact that Derek Norris played himself out of a potential trade by hitting just .183/.253/.320. With Norris and the out-of-options Christian Bethancourt serving as manager Andy Green’s primary receivers in the bigs, the Padres left Hedges at El Paso to continue to hone his offensive skills, and he delivered in a big way, hitting .326/.353/.597 with 21 homers. That’s a critical development for a player who has long been touted for standout defense but had previously struggled to hit. Hedges batted a woeful .168/.215/.248 in 152 MLB PAs last season, and the .225/.272/.314 slash he compiled in 133 career games at the Double-A level was concerning as well. Now, with such an impressive 2016 season in his back pocket, it’s easy to envision the Padres finding a way to clear a roster spot for him in 2017.
Neither Baumann nor Torres ranks among San Diego’s top minor leaguers, but both had strong minor league seasons. Baumann posted a 3.14 ERA with a 31-to-12 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings, and the 28-year-old will return to the Padres for a third stint this year. Torres, just 22, split the 2016 campaign across three minor league levels after beginning in Class-A Advanced and compiled a 2.24 ERA with 8.8 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 64 1/3 innings of relief.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Injured Padres righty Colin Rea is nearing a throwing program, manager Andy Green tells MLB.com’s Carlos Collazo (via Twitter). The 26-year-old, who was traded to the Marlins and then back to the Padres after he suffered an elbow injury, is trying to stave off Tommy John surgery with treatment, rest, and rehab. His progress will be interesting to watch, as he’d presumably hold down a rotation job next year for San Diego if his ulnar collateral ligament allows.
Major League Baseball’s 30-day suspension of Padres general manager A.J. Preller for a failure to disclose medical information in the Drew Pomeranz/Anderson Espinoza trade has led to controversy both around the league and in San Diego’s front office. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required), “there is a split of opinion” within Padres upper management about Preller. Owner Peter Seidler and team president/CEO Mike Dee both strongly support Preller, while executive chairman Ron Fowler supports Preller publicly but is “asking hard questions about him behind the scenes.”
Questions arose about Preller’s job security in the wake of the suspension, though a club official told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that Preller wouldn’t face any further punishment from the Padres, nor was he in danger of being fired. Nonetheless, it isn’t surprising that the Padres are taking some degree of self-analysis of their baseball operations department, given how (as Olney puts it), “this situation has caused enormous tension and concern” within the club.
Fowler made headlines earlier this summer when he described the Padres’ play as “very embarrassing” during a radio interview. Fowler took responsibility on behalf of management for the Padres’ struggles in recent years, assigning a share of the blame to Preller while also praising him at the same time. “I don’t think there’s a brighter GM out there. I don’t think anyone works harder, but the results are not there, and I think A.J. would be the first one to tell you that,” Fowler said.
It would be unusual for a team to fire a GM after slightly more than two years on the job, though it could be argued that little has been normal about Preller’s entire tenure in San Diego, ranging from the payroll splurge in the 2014-15 offseason, to the lack of movement at the 2015 trade deadline to his current suspension. As Fowler noted during his interview, however, Preller was hired in part because of his ability to acquire young talent — the Padres had a wide array of picks in last June’s amateur draft and they have already far exceeded their international spending limits to land several highly-touted names from this year’s international class.
Of course, it was the acquisition of Espinoza (one of the game’s top pitching prospects) that eventually led to Preller’s suspension. Several executives and evaluators from around baseball, however, tell Olney that the punishment was insufficient. One evaluator said that despite the controversy, Preller still “won” because at the end of the day, Espinoza is still a Padre. As both Olney and Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron observed, there appears to be little explanation for the Padres’ system of internal medical records for their own use and separate records to be shared with other teams unless there was some intentional gamesmanship at play. “The Padres basically got told to stop reaching into the cookie jar while being allowed to continue eating the cookie they were already holding,” Cameron writes.
8:45pm: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has more on the Red Sox’ perspective. Boston became aware of the issues with Pomeranz after conducting an MRI on his shoulder and elbow, per the report, identifying “an injury he was receiving treatment for” that hadn’t been logged.
The club still felt it needed to move forward with the July 14th trade, and evidently didn’t feel the issue was severe enough to scuttle the deal. Still, though, Boston “sought compensation in the form of a player but didn’t succeed,” a source tells Cafardo. It is not immediately clear whether the team pursued that remedy directly with the Padres or through the league in some form.
7:55pm: Red Sox chairman Tom Werner had harsh words today for the decision of the commissioner’s office relating to withheld medical information in the summer trade for lefty Drew Pomeranz, as Tom Caron of NESN reports (Twitter links). (Video link via NESN.)
“We were extremely disappointed in the decision,” said Werner. “We felt that some wrong was committed and that it’s important to have a level playing field. The Padres didn’t play on it.”
After allegations from four teams arose regarding the Padres’ insufficient provision of medical investigation, the league opened an investigation. The league announced a 30-day suspension of Padres GM A.J. Preller yesterday, specifying that it related to the Pomeranz deal, but otherwise did not punish the San Diego organization or provide compensation to the Red Sox.
At the time the investigation itself was reported, indications were that Boston was not seeking any modification of the swap. Another Padres deal was partially unwound, with Colin Rea being traded back from the Marlins to San Diego. But that arrangement was apparently worked out between the teams. Since that time, reports have suggested that the Padres attempted to evade medical reporting requirements, suggesting to their trainers that doing so would help the organization to gain an advantage in trade talks.
It is not known whether the Red Sox specifically sought any particular recompense arising from the Pomeranz-related concerns. And it’s fair to note that Werner did not make clear whether that was the cause for his view on the suspension. Some have suggested that the Padres were handled less harshly in this instance than the Red Sox were recently, and the frustration could stem from that potential disparity. Boston was hit with a signing ban and was forced to give up its rights to several international free agent signees after a finding of a rules violation.
Meanwhile, Padres manager Andy Green defended his organization as well as Preller, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Insisting that Pomeranz never had any issues of which he was aware, Green went into extensive detail on his view of the situation — which you’ll find in full in Lin’s report. “I see it as that we had all our files in one place and they were not where they needed to be and we accepted responsibility for that and paid honestly a steep price for that,” the first-year manager explained.
At base, Green asserted that there was no “malicious intent to deceive anyone in the process” by the San Diego organization. “There was never this belief that we’re trading anybody that was hurt,” he continued. “There was never this belief that we’re trying to pull one over on the rest of Major League Baseball. … [E]very mistake that’s been made was well-intentioned. Mistakes have been made. We’ve owned them.”
SEPT. 16: Lin reports that in addition to suspending Preller for 30 days, MLB has also fined the Padres an undisclosed amount (Twitter link).
SEPT. 15, 6:33pm: Despite the fact that other teams also complained, no additional punitive action is expected to be taken against Preller or the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports on Twitter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports adds a detail on the underlying issues, via Twitter. San Diego failed to disclose oral medications taken by Pomeranz and other traded players, he says.
6:12pm: The Padres have released a pair of statements on the matter. Preller says that he “accept[s] full responsibility” but claims “there was no malicious intent … to conceal information or disregard MLB’s recommended guidelines.”
Meanwhile, executive chairman Ron Fowler, managing partner Peter Seidler and president/CEO Mike Dee issued a joint statement. The club “accept[s] the discipline” and says it “will leave no stone unturned in developing comprehensive processes to remediate this unintentional, but inexcusable, occurrence.” The group of top officials state that they do not believe there was any effort “to mislead other clubs.”
The release also confirms that Preller will remain in charge of the baseball ops department. The trio of top officials say they will “work closely with him upon his reinstatement to ensure that this unfortunate set of circumstances does not happen again.”
5:15pm: Preller isn’t at risk of losing his post with the Padres, a “high-ranking club official” tells Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The GM has the “full support” of the team, per the source.
4:21pm: Major league baseball has announced a thirty-day suspension without pay for Padres GM A.J. Preller. The punishment was handed out as a result of a determination that he had failed to disclose required medical information in the trade that sent lefty Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox in exchange for prospect Anderson Espinoza.
The league was looking into San Diego’s medical documentation and disclosure practices after questions arose at this summer’s trade deadline. San Diego already agreed to an unusual trade unwinding a portion of its swap with the Marlins, taking back injured righty Colin Rea after Miami learned about undisclosed medical information.
In a stunning report earlier this afternoon, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney documented an alleged decision by the Padres’ front office to maintain two separate databases of player health information. Treatment for ailments that did not require disabled list stints, it seems, were not logged in the central information repository that is utilized by teams in the course of trades — with training staff reportedly told expressly that the reason was to gain an advantage in trade talks.
Notably, the punishment apparently relates only to the Pomeranz deal. According to Olney’s report, at least three other clubs complained to the commissioner’s office about San Diego’s actions over the summer. It is not clear at this point whether further discipline could be pursued. This isn’t the first time that Preller has been reprimanded by the league, as he was also suspended back when he was an assistant GM for the Rangers. That case involved the international signing rules.
It seems fair to wonder at this point whether Preller will continue on at the helm of the Padres. In addition to the fact that he’ll seemingly be out of commission entering an important offseason, it’s fair to wonder whether the situation would impact Preller’s ability to interact with rival executives on future trades. It doesn’t help his cause that the club has struggled badly over the last two years, though the upper-level leadership of the organization has seemingly supported its youthful GM’s farm system rebuilding project, which seemed to be gaining some positive momentum of late.
As for the Red Sox’ interest in the matter, the league called the matter “closed.” And prior reports suggested that there was no effort on Boston’s behalf to revisit the terms of that deal or otherwise seek recompense.