- The Padres have shut 20-year-old reliever Andres Munoz down for the season, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The rookie righty tossed a professional-high 58 2/3 innings this season between the majors and minors, more than doubling the previous best of 24 2/3 he logged at the lower levels a year ago. Munoz impressed in 23 frames with the Padres this season, as he notched a 3.91 ERA/3.17 FIP with 11.74 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9. Plus, as Acee points out, Munoz’s average fastball velocity of 99.9 mph sits second in the league.
As expected, the Padres have brought an early end to star rookie Chris Paddack’s season. The right-hander’s start against the Brewers on Tuesday will go down as his last of the year, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Paddack concluded his season in excellent fashion, tossing five innings of one-run, one-hit ball with nine strikeouts against a single walk in the Padres’ loss in Milwaukee. It was the fourth straight outstanding performance by the 23-year-old Paddack, who yielded a mere two earned runs and totaled 32 strikeouts versus four walks in his last four appearances – a 23 1/3-inning span.
After joining the Padres in a heist of a trade with the Marlins back in 2016, Paddack quickly rose up the ranks to become one of the game’s most coveted young arms. And though Paddack underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after switching organizations, it’s evident he’s all the way back at this point. The 2015 eighth-round pick amassed a professional-high 140 2/3 frames this year, notching a 3.33 ERA/3.96 FIP with 9.79 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9 in the process.
Now, with San Diego out of contention as the season winds to a close, the team understandably wants to preserve a hurler who could be a front-line starter for the long haul. The Padres’ playoff drought will sit at an embarrassing 13 years after this season, but if they’re going to return to relevance sometime soon, it seems likely Paddack will have quite a bit of say in it.
- Padres catcher Luis Torrens hasn’t played in the majors since 2017, the season after the club acquired him during the Rule 5 Draft. Torrens, then 21, was clearly in over his head that year. He batted a meager .163/.243/.203 in 139 plate appearances in the bigs, but the Padres still haven’t given up on him a couple years later. And Torrens performed so well at the Double-A level this season that he’ll be in the mix to win a major league spot next spring, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests. Not only has Torrens hit .300/.373/.500 with 15 homers in 397 trips to the plate this year, but his defensive progress has impressed the San Diego organization. “The video I see, his energy behind the plate is incredible,” said Padres bench coach Rod Barajas, a former MLB catcher. “He’s a spark plug back there.” It seems Torrens will be part of a battle that will also consist of Francisco Mejia, Austin Hedges and Austin Allen next spring. In the meantime, he’ll start “a few” games in the majors before this season ends, per manager Andy Green.
It has only been about six weeks, so it’s too soon to judge with finality how this year’s trade deadline maneuvers will play out. That said, we’re already most of the way through the period — the regular season portion, at least — for which rental players were acquired. Even players with future control are usually added first and foremost for their immediate contributions (though there are some exceptions). It’d be awfully premature to say anything conclusive about the prospect side of any deals, but we do now have some additional information with which to work.
So, that’s why we’re going to take a glance back over our shoulders at the moves (and major non-moves) that organizations made in the run-up to this year’s trade deadline. We already covered the AL Central, NL Central, AL East, NL East, and AL West. Now we’ll finish things off in the NL West …
With visions of Felipe Vazquez as the trade deadline approached, many fans likely came away thoroughly underwhelmed by the Dodgers’ efforts. But if making that deal would’ve cost Gavin Lux, then he wouldn’t be in the lineup right now.
Plus, the Dodgers are awfully good even without another high-end relief arm. The bullpen has some big questions, to be sure, but the L.A. organization is loaded with starting pitching options that can all be deployed in various ways come October. There’s no question that there’s a possibility we’ll look back and think the Dodgers should have done more, but it’s likewise impossible to argue with the organization’s process or results in recent years.
So, what did the team do? On deadline day, the headliner was … trading for lefty reliever Adam Kolarek. That seemed ho-hum, but he has been quite useful, allowing just one earned run in 10 1/3 innings over 21 appearances. Yep, he’s being utilized judiciously, but that makes sense. Kolarek has been bombed by righties this year but has held opposing southpaws to a meager .183/.227/.269 batting line. The player sent out to get him, outfielder Niko Hulsizer, acquired in return, didn’t really have enough action to change his outlook in any meaningful way.
Otherwise, the moves were even lower-stakes arrangements. Utilityman Kristopher Negron has chipped in well since his acquisition and the Dodgers probably won’t miss Daniel Castro, who hasn’t hit much in the upper minors and wasn’t likely to play a significant role this year or next. The Dodgers haven’t gotten anything from Tyler White, but also probably haven’t seen anything from Andre Scrubb to cause major regret from that trade. Jedd Gyorko hasn’t hit well since coming over, but that didn’t cost much either. Young righty Jeffry Abreu, sent in the swap along with the contract of Tony Cingrani, hasn’t yet thrown competitive innings with the Cardinals. The Dodgers also picked up international spending capacity and cash considerations in the deal.
The major move came at the very last minute, with the D-Backs parting with veteran righty Zack Greinke. It’s hard to imagine that free agent contract having a softer landing. In addition to shedding much of the remaining financial obligation, the Arizona organization added four high-quality prospects.
Only one of those new players, infielder Josh Rojas, has ascended to the majors. The 25-year-old owns only a .232/.318/.337 slash in 107 trips to the plate, but his monster season in the upper minors still makes him an intriguing player going forward. The other three were even more highly regarded talents. Slugger-in-training Seth Beer struggled after the swap but still holds ample promise. Talented righties Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas will be looking to bounce back, respectively, from Tommy John surgery and a bit of a down season in the results department.
The Snakes figured to take a step back sans Greinke, but they actually managed to stay relevant in the Wild Card race. Young righty Zac Gallen has had a big say in that, having thrown 43 2/3 innings of 2.89 ERA ball since arriving in exchange for touted infielder Jazz Chisholm. That’s immensely promising for the Arizona organization, which will hope Gallen can sustain his breakout year. On the other side of that deal, it’s fair to note that the 21-year-old Chisholm put his struggles behind him to finish with a strong .284/.383/.494 (156 wRC+) run after going into the Miami system.
With a continued eye to making sound baseball decisions for sustainable competitiveness, the Diamondbacks finally hammered out a swap for sturdy but unexciting starter Mike Leake. The veteran righty had a no-trade clause and personal reasons to prefer pitching in Arizona, which may have helped the Snakes work out a solid deal that cost only $6MM in total salary obligations and Jose Caballero. The young infielder struggled to a .256/.339/.333 batting line at the High-A level after the deal.
The D-Backs got some cash in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy, but otherwise that was it for mid-summer roster moves. It’s easy to like the overall slate of changes, though we’ll need to track them to see how it all shakes out over the long haul.
Also busy were the Giants, who faced a tricky deadline situation owing to a hot streak that had the club in Wild Card contention. Ultimately, the team decided not to sell of quality lefties Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith — each of whom might have brought back significant returns. The former is sure to receive a qualifying offer and the latter is a candidate as well, so there are still some paths to achieving future value, but the organization knew it was making some sacrifices by holding on to these pitchers.
The San Francisco denizens did move quite a few other hurlers. Chief among them was righty Sam Dyson (link), who will be eligible for arbitration one final time in 2020. Unfortunately, he has struggled badly in just a dozen appearances with the Twins and is now under consideration for a season-ending shoulder procedure. That doesn’t look great for Minnesota, though questions remain on the other side of the swap as well. Power-hitting outfielder Jaylin Davis laid waste to Triple-A but has struggled in his first, brief foray into the majors. We won’t know for quite some time what the Giants really have in young pitching prospects Kai-Wei Teng and Prelander Berroa.
The well-timed reemergence of southpaw Drew Pomeranz allowed the Giants to package him with power righty Ray Black in a deal that landed long-lauded infield prospect Mauricio Dubon. Pomeranz has been useful in Milwaukee but is a pure rental; Black still hasn’t shown his big heat can consistently retire MLB hitters. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Dubon has turned in an impressive .302/.327/.547 run in his first 55 plate appearances at the game’s highest level. That showing could make him the favorite to handle second base next year in San Francisco. The club made way by dropping veteran Scooter Gennett, who had been acquired as a buy-low replacement for Joe Panik.
The other significant reliever swap involved high-priced veteran Mark Melancon. It was surprising to see the Giants shed all of the veteran’s remaining salary obligations. He has a strong 20:2 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 frames since the deal, along with ten saves, but hasn’t consistently kept runs off the board. The Giants have to be pleased with what they saw from the player they added in that swap. Young righty Tristan Beck threw 35 2/3 innings of 2.27 ERA ball, with 9.3 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9, for the club’s High-A affiliate.
Rounding things out for the Giants, the team took a shot on outfielder Joe McCarthy, who has not yet figured things out at Triple-A. The cost was younger prospect Jacob Lopez, who is still in the low minors but generated solid results this year.
The deadline turned out to be all about one man: Taylor Trammell. Long considered an uber-talented outfielder, the former first-round pick was plainly targeted by the Padres. It took a complicated, three-team arrangement to make it happen, but the San Diego organization now has a player that it views as the center fielder of the future.
Trammell remains an unfinished product. He wrapped up the season on a hot streak but ultimately carried only a .229/.316/.381 slash in his 133 Double-A plate appearances after the swap. The Friars are betting on their ability to finish off his development and surely hope they bought at a relative low point.
Making the deal cost the Pads a few quality assets. Young outfielder Franmil Reyes hasn’t yet settled in with his new team, posting 56 strikeouts in 161 plate appearances, but he comes with loads of cheap control and ample potential. Southpaw Logan Allen has mostly struggled this year, but he is another player that could soon be a quality MLB contributor. The Padres also parted with far-away youngster Victor Nova. Clearly, the San Diego end of this swap will take many years to evaluate in full.
It was otherwise a fairly quiet deadline period. The Padres got nothing from Carl Edwards Jr. after adding him from the Cubs; he seems a non-tender candidate this fall. Meanwhile, lefty Brad Wieck has been a surprising contributor in Chicago since that swap was completed. The 27-year-old has eleven strikeouts without a walk in 5 1/3 appearances. Also heading out of San Diego was righty reliever, Phil Maton, who has thus far been useful but unremarkable in Cleveland.
Typically, when a team enters a season intending to contend and finds itself buried by the trade deadline, there’s a sell-off. Not so in Colorado — and for good reason. The club just didn’t have any assets that made sense to move. The higher-priced veterans haven’t performed well enough to generate appreciable cost savings, while the club’s core talent can’t be shipped out without leaving un-fillable holes. While some Charlie Blackmon explorations reportedly took place, that never seemed likely to result in a move and in the end fizzled out.
So … all we’re left with was this stirring blockbuster with the Yankees: the acquisition of right-hander Joe Harvey for minor league left-hander Alfredo Garcia. Harvey is a MLB-ready reliever who has shown some strikeout ability in the minors, though his initial transition to the highest level of the game hasn’t been especially promising. Garcia generated good results on both sides of the swap, but he’s a low-A player who is a long way from the bigs.
When the Padres signed erstwhile Angels ace Garrett Richards to a two-year, $15.5MM deal in December, expectations were that Richards would return in time to lead their young staff in 2020–and, if everything broke right in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, that Richards might squeeze in a few September frames. Apparently, that vision is coming into focus now, as the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee reports that Richards is expected to take the ball in his club’s matchup with the Brewers on Monday (link). “Getting him healthy on the mound, competing at the big-league level is going to set him up for success next year,” Padres manager Andy Green told Acee. “We look at it like get him on the mound, make sure he knows going into the offseason he’s ready to go and he doesn’t have a question in the back of his mind — that he’s stared down a few major league lineups and he’s been back on the big stage and he’s ready to go.”
- Padres rookie Chris Paddack will make at least one more start this season, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com tweets. Shutting Paddack down for the year looked like a possibility after he threw six scoreless innings against the Cubs on Wednesday. The rookie standout, 23, has now racked up 135 2/3 innings this season, easily surpassing the previous professional high of 90 he set in 2018 as a minor leaguer.
- Like Dahl, Padres righty Chris Paddack’s season could also be done, as AJ Cassavell of MLB.com observes. Paddack’s not injured, but the Padres have been monitoring the former Tommy John patient’s workload in his rookie campaign. The prized 23-year-old fired six shutout frames against the Cubs on Wednesday, raising his 2019 innings total to 135 2/3 – easily the most he has thrown in a professional season. Whether or not Paddack takes the mound again this year, this season’s sure to go in the books as a resounding success for him. Paddack has logged a 3.38 ERA/3.99 FIP with tremendous strikeout and walk rates (9.55 K/9 , 1.99 BB/9) in his first MLB action.
Having scored a 10-year, $300MM contract, Manny Machado was easily the Padres’ biggest free-agent signing last winter. Long before that addition, though, the Padres made headlines by awarding right-hander Garrett Richards a two-year, $15.5MM guarantee.
The Padres handed Richards his deal knowing they likely wouldn’t get much from the former Angel this season after he underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2018. Indeed, with little time left this year, Richards hasn’t yet made his Padres debut. It appears to be on the way, however. Richards will throw a bullpen session Saturday, and if he gets through that unscathed, he’ll likely take the hill during San Diego’s series in Milwaukee next week, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports.
At 67-77, the Padres have sewn up their 13th consecutive season without a playoff berth. But if they’re going to make a long-awaited return to contention a year from now, a healthy Richards could be a key factor. The problem is that good health has been hard to come by for Richards, whom arm injuries have consistently dogged over the past few seasons. The 31-year-old hasn’t logged a full season since 2015, and has only amassed 138 2/3 innings dating back to the 2016 campaign. When he has been able to take the ball, though, Richards has served as a more-than-respectable big league starter, evidenced by his 3.54 ERA/3.62 FIP with 7.8 K/9, 3.24 BB/9 and a 52.5 percent groundball rate across 744 2/3 innings.
Going forward, the Padres could certainly use the type of production that Richards has typically offered. On paper, he’d fit nicely into a group that has gotten solid numbers this year from Chris Paddack, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Dinelson Lamet. San Diego hasn’t found a quality option to fill out its starting staff, however, as Cal Quantrill, Matt Strahm and Nick Margevicius have each failed to truly seize hold of a rotation spot. If the team has its way, Richards won’t encounter that type of difficulty when he’s finally ready to join its staff – a unit that could also include elite prospect MacKenzie Gore in the near future.
- Padres manager Andy Green isn’t willing to guarantee that banged up outfielder Hunter Renfroe will play again this season, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune relays. For now, Renfroe’s going to rest on account of right elbow and ankle problems. “Hunter has battled through a lot this second half,” said Green, who added, “There have been a number of days he was unavailable and we’ve managed not to talk about it.” We covered Renfroe’s significant second-half struggles earlier Tuesday, though it now seems possible health problems have been a major cause for his summer slump.
Just a couple months ago, Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe looked like a legitimate breakout player. As a result, the defensively adept slugger drew plenty of trade interest leading up to the deadline, though the Padres understandably elected against parting with him. This season has since become about looking forward for the out-of-contention Padres, who are reportedly set to count on Renfroe as one of their main outfielders again in 2020. There are clear reasons for that – including Renfroe’s 31 home runs, whopping 22 Defensive Runs Saved, and his three remaining seasons of team control – but they’ll need the 27-year-old to get off the schneid at the plate in 2020 to increase their chances of breaking a seemingly interminable playoff drought.
Although his HR total is prodigious, Renfroe has only been a middling offensive performer this year, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric. His .222/.290/.498 line in 462 trips to the plate has led to an unspectacular 99 wRC+. Despite his defensive excellence, Renfroe’s so-so offense has limited him to 1.9 fWAR, essentially making him an average player. There’s value in that, especially on a cheap salary, though Renfroe looked as if he was destined for better not long ago. When the All-Star break rolled around in mid-July, Renfroe had already put up 2.4 fWAR with 27 homers and a 130 wRC+ in 289 plate appearances. Since then, however, he has dipped to a dismal .169/.260/.291 line with four HRs across 173 PA. Renfroe’s minus-0.5 fWAR during the second half of the season ties him for the fourth-worst mark in the game.
If you’re wondering what caused the destruction of Renfroe’s offensive numbers, it starts with a massive downturn in power – evidenced in part by the noticeable decrease in HRs. Renfroe boasted a ridiculous .361 ISO at the break, but the number has plummeted to a nonthreatening .122 during the second half of the season. A mammoth decline in impactful contact is an obvious cause. According to FanGraphs, Renfroe posted a hard-hit rate of 52.1 percent over the first couple months of the year. The figure has fallen to 33.7 since the All-Star Game, while Renfroe has made far less contact in general and seen his strikeout rate soar from 27.3 percent to an even 37.0.
Health may be factoring into Renfroe’s late-season issues, as manager Andy Green said Tuesday (via Dennis Lin of The Athletic) that his production has “suffered because of” a sore elbow and a problematic ankle. Likewise, it hasn’t helped Renfroe’s cause that pitchers have somewhat changed their approach when he has come to the plate, having thrown more sliders against him as the season has progressed, per FanGraphs. Renfroe’s especially vulnerable when dealing with breaking pitches, according to Statcast, which credits him with a .237 weighted on-base average/.219 expected wOBA against those offerings.
By Statcast’s standards, Renfroe’s overall output has been something of a mixed bag. He ranks in the league’s 66th percentile or better in exit velocity and Statcast’s Outs Above Average defensive metric, but his other numbers aren’t as encouraging. For one, Renfroe’s expected batting average – .218 – dwells toward the bottom of the league (third percentile). And his xwOBA (.310; 27th percentile) also doesn’t offer much encouragement, suggesting he has actually been fortunate to hit for a real wOBA (.328) that’s more mediocre than spectacular.
In spite of his second-half woes, it’s evident San Diego views Renfroe as a player who could be part of the solution as it seeks a return to relevance. But if Renfroe’s really going to emerge as a high-end complement to the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado in 2020, the Padres will need the player who showed up during the first half of this season to reappear going forward. If healthy, perhaps he will.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.