Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe has come up in trade rumors this week, and the club is indeed willing to deal the 27-year-old slugger, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. However, Renfroe’s not the only Padre who could end up on the move before the July 31 trade deadline. The team’s willing to give up “virtually” any of its position players except for shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., third baseman Manny Machado and first baseman Eric Hosmer, according to Acee.
The Padres’ goal in dealing from its current position player cast would be to upgrade offensively at two spots – catcher and center field – and add “young arms,” per Acee. Their desire to pick up controllable pitching has long been known, though it’s interesting they want a better offensive backstop.
Major leaguers Austin Hedges and Austin Allen haven’t hit, but Triple-A catcher Francisco Mejia rode his potential at the plate into high rankings on prospect lists not long ago. As recently as last summer, when the Padres acquired Mejia from the Indians for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, Keith Law of ESPN regarded Mejia as one of the game’s top five farmhands. While Mejia has struggled mightily in the majors since then, he’s still just 23 and has tallied a mere 134 plate appearances in the bigs. It’s unclear from Acee’s report whether the Padres would be open to parting with Mejia, who has raked since they optioned him to the minors last month, or if they just don’t think he’s ready to make an offensive impact at the game’s highest level yet.
The 26-year-old Hedges has made an MLB impact, meanwhile, but almost solely behind the plate. Hedges rates as an elite defender, and though he was a respectable offensive player just last season, he otherwise hasn’t hit much since his 2015 debut.
Likewise, center fielder Manuel Margot has seldom hit since the Padres first promoted him in 2015. There has been talk of San Diego demoting him to the minors to help alleviate its outfield logjam. But as a 24-year-old speedster who has excelled in the field and won’t reach arbitration until the offseason, he’d likely draw interest on the trade market.
Perhaps aside from Renfroe, right fielder Franmil Reyes stands out as the Padres’ most valuable trade chip among position players. They offer similar offensive skill sets, and Renfroe’s a much better defender, though Reyes is three-plus years younger. Set to turn 24 in July, Reyes has slashed .263/.320/.520 (123 wRC+) with 35 home runs in 516 PA since he first came up last season. Further increasing Reyes’ appeal, he’s earning a minimal salary and isn’t scheduled to reach arbitration until after the 2021 season.
If the Padres keep Renfroe and Reyes, perhaps they’d consider trading fellow corner outfielder Josh Naylor. The 21-year-old Naylor hasn’t gotten off to a strong start since the Padres promoted him May 24, but he’s a top 100 prospect or close to it. Franchy Cordero, yet another of their young corner outfielders, seems likely to stay put when considering his recent injury issues. Cordero, 24, has missed most of the past season-plus with right elbow issues, and he suffered a mild quad injury while rehabbing this week.
As for the rest of San Diego’s roster, outfielder Wil Myers and second baseman Ian Kinsler jump to the fore as players the team would probably like to move. The trade value is minimal in both cases, though.
Myers, 28, hasn’t lived up to the six-year, $83MM contract the Padres gave him in January 2017. They backloaded the deal, meaning he’s owed almost $63MM through 2022 (including a $1MM buyout in ’23). Although Myers was a 30-home run hitter as recently as 2017, he’s still just a .242/.324/.450 batter (106 wRC+) dating back to then.
Kinsler, 36, joined the Padres on a two-year, $8MM contract in the offseason. While Kinsler has long been a quality major leaguer, the Padres haven’t gotten much return on their investment so far. Kinsler has hit .204/.264/.387 (72 wRC+) with minus-0.3 fWAR in 201 PA., though he has fared much better following an ice-cold April (.262/.309/.505 since May 1). Regardless of whether the Padres find a taker for Kinsler, it seems like only a matter of time before he loses his starting spot to standout prospect Luis Urias.
After a surprisingly competitive start to the season, San Diego has begun fading from the National League playoff race. Losers of five straight, the Padres sit 33-36 and 5 1/2 games out of wild-card position. However, with the talent already on hand and the high-potential players baking in the minors, the club may not be far away from contending on an annual basis. It seems general manager A.J. Preller will operate aggressively over the next month-plus in an effort to better position his roster to accomplish that. With that in mind, the Padres should be a compelling team to watch leading up to the deadline.