The Padres are more likely to upgrade their roster through trades moreso than free agency this winter, though that hardly means the Friars are open to moving just anyone. As per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, sources both from within the Padres and on rival teams feel that Chris Paddack and top prospect MacKenzie Gore are “virtually untouchable” within the the Padres’ ranks of young arms. Right-handed pitching prospect Luis Patino “is just slightly more available than” Paddack or Gore, meaning that San Diego seems unlikely to move any of the three best impact arms in the organization.
It’s no surprise that Paddack is off limits following his impressive rookie season, or that Gore (a consensus top-five prospect in baseball in the eyes of Baseball America, MLB.com, and Fangraphs) isn’t a trade chip. Patino’s name isn’t as well-known as the others, though he also possesses an impressive pedigree.
An international signing out of Colombia, the 20-year-old Patino has a 2.35 ERA, 10.7 K/9, and 3.49 K/BB rate over 234 innings in pro ball. He cracked the Double-A level last season, so it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Patino reach the majors by late in the 2020 campaign. A converted shortstop, Patino has a fastball that usually sits in the mid-90s and has touched the 98mph threshold, while also possessing a plus slider and some very promising breaking pitches. Fangraphs ranks Patino 26th among all minor leaguers, with BA (29th) and MLB.com (30th) not far behind on their own top-100 lists.
Interest in Patino has grown as other teams are “realizing the Padres won’t part with Gore,” Acee writes, though if Patino is almost surely staying put, trade suitors will likely turn their attention elsewhere in the organization. To this end, there are still plenty of options available, since “any starting pitcher among [the Padres’] deep trove of highly-rated prospects and young major leaguers can be had as part of a trade package.”
Since Acee wrote over the summer that Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer are the only position players San Diego is unwilling to trade, that leaves basically anyone else on the organizational depth chart available as a possible trade chip. Acee’s report came prior to the Padres’ acquisition of Taylor Trammell in the Trevor Bauer/Franmil Reyes deal, so one would imagine that the highly-touted Trammell also won’t be moved. (And, I would suspect that after two middling seasons from Hosmer, the Padres might be at least willing to listen if another team offered to take the first baseman and his $99MM in remaining salary off San Diego’s hands.)
It leaves the Padres with no shortage of possibilities in figuring out how to upgrade their team, as the franchise enters what could be a pivotal year. Executive chairman Ron Fowler described the club’s 70-92 season as “embarrassing,” and promised changes if the Padres didn’t improve in 2020. This puts extra pressure on general manager A.J. Preller to finally end the Friars’ streak of nine consecutive losing seasons.