The Padres will immediately designate infielder/outfielder Hector Olivera upon his activation from a suspension on Aug. 2, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He had just been acquired from the Braves in exchange for Matt Kemp.
The news will sound bizarre to those unfamiliar with the situation or the contract statuses of either player, but the trade essentially boils down to a financial tactic for the Padres, who will save $25.5MM in the deal. San Diego owed Kemp $64.5MM from 2017-19 ($10.5MM of which was coming from the Dodgers via the trade in which they initially acquired Kemp), whereas Olivera is owed $28.5MM from 2017-20. Olivera is currently serving an 82-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy after being arrested and charged with assault of a woman at a Washington D.C.-area hotel back in April. Understandably, neither the Braves nor Padres wanted any part of Olivera , who hasn’t produced at the plate in either the minors or Majors since signing a six-year deal with the Dodgers in 2015 and also comes with a very poor defensive reputation.
San Diego has been rapidly trimming its payroll over the past nine months, shipping out expensive veterans Craig Kimbrel, Melvin Upton Jr., Fernando Rodney and Andrew Cashner in an effort to not only shed payroll but to aggressively accumulate minor league talent. Much of the Padres’ financial savings have been immediately redirected to international free agency, where they’ve been the most active and highest-spending team on the 2016-17 international free agent market. Most notably, the Padres have signed 17-year-old Cuban left-hander Adrian Morejon to an $11MM bonus and 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Ona to a $9MM bonus (each of which comes with a 100 percent luxury tax because the team has shattered its league-allotted spending pool).
The series of moves represents a significant change in course from a Padres front office that was one of the most aggressive buyers of the 2014-15 offseason. A season and a half of dismal play from the Friars has pushed the team into rebuild mode, and further moves should be expected in advance of Monday afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline. Derek Norris stands out as perhaps the likeliest remaining Padre to be traded.