The Padres were the most active buyer at the 2020 trade deadline — arguably of any trade deadline in recent history — reshaping their roster with additions of Mike Clevinger, Austin Nola, Trevor Rosenthal, Mitch Moreland and Jason Castro, among others. The dizzying sequence of additions hearkened back to the days when Matt Kemp labeled A.J. Preller a “rock star” GM during Preller’s frenetic first offseason on the job, but the biggest trades swung by the Padres over the weekend didn’t necessarily come together in straightforward fashion.
Preller, in fact, was informed Sunday evening that his Padres were “out” of the Clevinger bidding, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (via Twitter). The Indians told the Padres that they were sitting on a better offer and likely to proceed in another direction. That call prompted the club to reconvene and alter its package, ultimately adding infield prospect Owen Miller and catcher Austin Hedges early Monday morning. Those pieces put San Diego’s offer over the top, it seems, as word of Clevinger’s trade to the Friars was out several hours before the 4pm ET deadline.
Hedges and Miller, the final two pieces of the Padres’ six-player package, added quite a bit more near-term value to the arrangement. Hedges is considered one of the best defensive catchers (if not the best) in the game and is controlled through the 2022 season. The 23-year-old Miller has yet to make his big league debut, but he slashed .290/.355/.430 in a full season at the Double-A level last year while playing three infield positions. He’s in Cleveland’s player pool now and could conceivably be an option this month. If not, he’ll certainly be in consideration for a call to the big leagues come 2021. With Cesar Hernandez playing on a one-year deal, it’s possible that Miller could be in the mix for regular playing time next season.
But the Clevinger blockbuster wasn’t the only Friars swap that required some persistent iterations. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters after trading Nola, Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla to the Padres that he didn’t expect to trade Nola this summer (as opposed to Taijuan Walker, whom the M’s fully anticipated moving).
“They had called repeatedly on Austin Nola and we had repeatedly rebuffed that interest until the return just became too big for us to pass up in our minds,” Dipoto said Monday (link via MLB.com’s Greg Johns).
The key element of the trade for the Mariners was getting both infielder Ty France and outfield prospect Taylor Trammell in the deal. Dipoto didn’t hide his affinity for either player, revealing that he’s contacted the Padres on France repeatedly over the past couple seasons and been similarly drawn to Trammell dating all the way back to the 2016 draft. “As many phone calls as A.J. made to me this last week about Austin Nola, I have made as many to him over the last couple of years regarding Ty France,” said Dipoto.
With Nola and Castro now on hand, the Padres have completely remade their catching tandem midseason, but changes could yet be coming. The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reports (subscription required) that the club is contemplating a September promotion for 21-year-old Luis Campusano — a top-ranked catching prospect who was an in-demand piece himself at this year’s deadline. Per Lin, both the Indians and Rangers asked the Padres about Campusano in trade negotiations, but the Friars clearly weren’t inclined to include him in a deal. Cleveland initially sought Campusano and Luis Patino as centerpieces in the Clevinger deal, while the Rangers were interested in that pair as well as shortstop CJ Abrams when discussing Lance Lynn and Joey Gallo with the Padres.
The 21-year-old Campusano has yet to play above Class-A Advanced, but he tore through the pitcher-friendly California League last year, slashing .325/.396/.509 (148 wRC+). If the Padres do bring him up, they could rotate him, Nola and Castro through the catcher slot while maximizing Nola’s versatility with reps at any of first base, second base, third base or the outfield corners.
Suffice it to say, we could’ve seen any number of permutations of the Padres’ deluge of deals this past week. Such is the nature of a win-now team with a deep farm system. The club’s minor league system undoubtedly took a hit with this wave of trades, but San Diego also managed to hang onto the majority of its top-ranked prospects while clearly placing themselves in a better competitive position both now and into at least the 2022 season, after which Clevinger is scheduled to become a free agent.