The Padres have designated third baseman Chase Headley for assignment, according to a team announcement. San Diego recalled infielder Cory Spangenberg from Triple-A to take Headley’s 25-man roster spot.
With a .115/.233/.135 line in 60 plate appearances, Headley got off to a terrible start prior to his designation. Between his own struggles and the success of fellow third baseman Christian Villanueva, the 34-year-old Headley was unable to return to a regular role in San Diego – which he held with both the Padres and Yankees from 2008-17. Headley was a quality starter throughout that run, especially during a 31-home run, 7.2-fWAR season with the Padres in 2012.
The switch-hitting Headley chipped in a decent season last year in New York, where he slashed .273/.352/.406 with 1.9 fWAR in 586 PAs and helped the Yankees to the ALCS. But the Yankees then shipped Headley to the Padres in a salary-dumping trade over the winter, when the Pads dealt outfielder Jabari Blash, agreed to take on Headley’s $13MM salary and acquired right-hander Bryan Mitchell.
The hope was that Headley would continue to serve as a capable veteran in his second go-round with the Padres, but the deal was more about Mitchell from the rebuilding team’s point of view. Unfortunately for the Padres, however, the 27-year-old Mitchell hasn’t been a worthwhile pickup to this point. Mitchell has been among the worst pitchers in the majors during the first month-plus of the season, in fact, having recorded 37 2/3 innings (eight appearances, seven starts) of 6.21 ERA/6.66 FIP ball and posted disastrous strikeout and walk rates (4.3 K/9, 6.93 BB/9).
A turnaround could perhaps still be in the offing for Mitchell, but it doesn’t appear one will come for Headley in a Padres uniform. Unless the Padres are able to deal him elsewhere for another team’s unwanted salary within the next week, it seems likely Headley will clear waivers and become a free agent. At that point, a club would be able to add a potentially helpful piece for the prorated league minimum.