After trading Derek Norris this past offseason, the part of the Padres’ rebuild that involved trading away veterans to shed salary and/or make room for younger players had come to an end. But that didn’t close the door on general manager A.J. Preller’s ability to wheel and deal during the 2017 season. By signing a quartet of free agent starting pitchers to help bridge the gap until the team’s younger pitchers were ready to contribute—Trevor Cahill, Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver were each signed to one-year deals for a combined total of $8.25MM— they also added some potential trade chips to go along with any other players on the roster with less than three years of club control.
With three of the four veteran starters having established some trade value and several other players expected to draw strong interest, the only question is how long Preller waits before pulling the trigger on his first trade of 2017. Let’s break down who could become available…
Clayton Richard, LHP (starter) | Salary: $1.75MM
Richard has had a career resurgence since joining the Padres last August, posting a 3.64 ERA over 141.2 innings. The 33-year-old was one out away from a complete game shutout on Tuesday before allowing a 2-run double on his 127th pitch of the game. It was the third time this season he’s flirted with that rare feat. He allowed one earned run in a complete game win against the D’backs on May 21st and pitched eight shutout innings against the Dodgers in his 2017 debut in April. He’s also completed at least six innings in nine of his 14 starts. A reliable lefty starter who can pitch deep into games can be very useful on a playoff contender.
Jhoulys Chacin, RHP (starter) | Salary: $1.75MM
Aside from three disastrous starts, which account for 23 earned runs over 10 innings, Chacin has been pretty good for the Padres. The 29-year-old hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in his other 10 starts and has completed at least six innings on eight different occasions. A reunion with the Rockies would make a lot of sense as their young pitching staff will need some help down the stretch.
Trevor Cahill, RHP (starter) | Salary: $1.75MM
A pair of disabled list stints due to back and shoulder injuries will likely keep Cahill’s trade value to a minimum, but he’s been impressive in a seven-start sample with a 3.27 ERA and 11.1 K/9 in 41.1 innings pitched. If he can return to health—he’s on track to be activated in the next few weeks—the 29-year-old should have at least 4 or 5 starts to showcase his talent to a contending team. He could also draw interest as a reliever based on his strong 2016 season out of the bullpen for the World Champion Cubs.
Erick Aybar, SS | Salary: $1.5MM
There’s not much of a market for shortstops and Aybar has been a disappointment, anyways, with a .215/.282/.328 slash line in 196 plate appearances. Nevertheless, he can be had for very little if a team is looking to add some veteran infield depth. At this rate, he’s more likely to be released than traded.
Craig Stammen, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $900K
Stammen’s ERA is a bit inflated (4.25) due to a three-appearance stretch in April when he allowed 10 earned runs in three innings. Aside from that, his numbers (36 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 9.0 K/9) look very similar to his those he posted as a very effective multi-inning reliever with the Washington Nationals from 2012-2014. The 33-year-old has pitched at least two innings in 10 of his 22 appearances and has held right-handed hitters to a .610 OPS.
Controlled Through 2019
Brad Hand, LHP (reliever) | Salary: $1.375MM (arbitration-eligible this winter)
While there was some early-season trade buzz surrounding Hand after a dominant first month, his more recent struggles—he has a 4.57 ERA over his last 18 appearances with two blown saves and four losses—have most likely scared off any suitors who would’ve been willing to strike early and meet what would’ve been a very high asking price. Still, the 27-year-old has emerged as one of the better lefty setup men in baseball over the past year. The Red Sox were able to flip two-and-a-half months of Andrew Miller for a Top 100 prospect (Eduardo Rodriguez) at the 2014 trade deadline. Hand isn’t Miller, but he’s under team control for two-and-a-half years so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Padres could net a fairly significant return.
Brandon Maurer, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $1.9MM in 2017, (arbitration-eligible this winter)
Maurer could be a tough sell with his 6.15 ERA, but he’s saved 12 of 14 games, throws a sinking fastball that reaches the upper 90s and is averaging 9.6 K/9. He was also very good after taking over as the Padres’ closer last July, converting 13 of 15 save chances while posting a 3.09 ERA. A team would have to be willing to pay the price for what Maurer has been aside from a handful of bad games—he has a 2.45 ERA if you throw out three awful appearances. Otherwise, the Padres will be happy to hold on to him until at least the upcoming offseason.
Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B | Salary: $2.625MM in 2017, $4.125MM in 2018, $5.5MM club option for 2019, not eligible for free agency if declined (plus $750K buyout of $8MM club option for 2020)
The 29-year-old, who was rewarded with a two-year contract extension after a breakout season in 2016, has finally heated up after struggling through the first month-and-a-half of 2017. As a result—Solarte is slashing .333/.429/.474 over his last 21 games—trade interest could soon pick up for the switch-hitting infielder. His team-friendly contract, defensive versatility and ability to come through in the clutch—he has a .956 OPS with runners in scoring position—could make him a nice under-the-radar acquisition for a contending team.
Wil Myers, 1B (starter) | Salary: $4.5MM in 2017, $4.5MM in 2018, $5.5MM in 2019, $22.5MM in 2020, 2021 and 2022 (plus $1MM buyout of $20MM club option for 2023)
The Padres made it clear that Myers was a player they wanted to build around when they gave him a franchise-record $83MM contract extension in January. That doesn’t mean they’re not willing to listen if a team was interested in trading for the 26-year-old All-Star, who had 29 homers and 28 stolen bases in 2016. Teams probably won’t be willing to take on that big contract, however, until he’s proven that he can be an MVP-caliber player since he’ll be paid like one in a few years. Based on his current slump (.547 OPS, HR, 37 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances), I’m guessing that he’s not quite ready to make the jump from “very good” player to “great” player.